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The May 13 episode of Bravo's Top Chef was an incredibly meaningful one as the chefs prepared meals for frontline workers for the Elimination Challenge. Unfortunately, the competition still had to continue with Padma Lakshmi telling one chef to "please pack your knives and go."
Avishar Barua was the cheftestant on the receiving end of those instructions when the judges expressed dissatisfaction with the flavor of his Bengali style beef curry with chana cauliflower and basmati rice. "I was certainly surprised. I had eaten it and shared it with my fellow chefs," Avishar said of his elimination in the above Top Chef After Show. "We were in quarantine, so maybe I just wasn't tasting things right. I have no idea. Like, we don't know what rings our palate."
During Judges' Table, guest judge Kwame Onwuachi suggested that Avishar could have browned the meat to help the seasoning stick to it, which is something the cheftestant doesn't necessarily agree with. "When I think about it, I always go, 'What could I had done better?' And I'm not sure that would have been something that would've been better. A lot of cultures don't brown their beef. My mom doesn't brown her beef," he said. "Like, it's just one of those things. Nothing against it. It was obviously the worst dish of the day, so that's why I went home. But I didn't feel like that was the worst thing I put out during my time on Top Chef [laughs]."
The judges weren't Avishar's only critics. "Half my family gave me s--t about the rice, of course. Then my staff started cracking up just like I predicted because I'm very, very firm about — 'firm' would be the wrong word for this — about my rice," Avishar said of his missteps with rice this season. "They're just like, 'How did you mess it up?' I'm like, 'I wish I could explain to you how it feels to be there.'"
Though not every dish was Avishar's best, he definitely always wowed everyone with his personality, and he showed his appreciation for everyone involved in this season of Top Chef for making him feel "comfortable" to do so. "I thought I showed up to cook. Somehow all this personality started coming out," he said. "I don't know where it came from."
Following his time in the culinary competition, Avishar, who is currently the executive chef and GM for Service Bar in Columbus, Ohio, started thinking about where he would like to take his career next. "I'm looking at a way that I can be more confident in my vision, doesn't necessarily translate to a restaurant, but I want to highlight people," he said. "I want to make sure that everyone has a chance to come to the food."
So, Avishar said that he hopes to make his food more accessible in the future. "The thing that carryout did the most for us is it made us realize how small we were. We were a 40-seat restaurant. People could not get reservations Fridays or Saturdays. We didn't realize how many people we were excluding," Avishar shared. "I've been excluded my entire life from a lot of stuff, and I don't think anyone should feel that way. So I want to try and approach what I do in the future as a way that I can allow more people to enjoy the food, enjoy the connections, and have a good time."
Want more Top Chef? New episodes air every Thursday at 8/7c or catch up on the Bravo app.
Find out how Avishar fared in the latest installment of Last Chance Kitchen, below.
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