Bravotv.com: First of all, what has it been like having Top Chef in your adopted home city?
Emeril Lagasse: Having Top Chef in New Orleans this season has been pretty great. I’m proud to showcase what makes New Orleans so special. Highlighting our city, its people, and most importantly our unique cuisine has been fun to watch, and I think that everyone has really gotten into it.
Bravotv.com: In this episode, you take the chefs around some Vietnamese hot-spots, including shrimping, with Eddie Huang. Can you describe that experience?
EL: Taking the chefs around to the bakery and the shrimping docks was one of my favorite parts of filming this season. A lot of the chefs were new to this kind of cuisine, and Eddie and I were excited to be able to introduce them to the food and especially the people working on the docks.
Bravotv.com: What is your relationship to Vietnamese food in New Orleans? How often do you eat it? What are you favorite spots and what should people eat there?
EL: I love Vietnamese food in New Orleans; it’s one of my favorites. I am a huge soup guy, so pho is always my go-to dish. I enjoy Bahn Mi, and I like a good spring roll too, especially grilled pork ones, but it’s hard to pass up pho if you’re at the right spot. My favorite place is Pho Tau Bay on the West Bank. It’s a really unassuming place, but once you walk in, you know it’s the real deal. Can’t go wrong with their coffee drinks too…
Bravotv.com: You and Eddie do a walk-through in the kitchen. You mention later that Carlos' soup got worse after that. Did any other dishes vastly change?
EL: None of the other dishes that I tasted changed drastically, but when it comes to the shrimp dish it was the case of taking it too far. After frying the shrimp, they then put the shrimp into a sauce, which just killed the dish.
Bravotv.com: Which were your favorite dishes? Least favorite?
EL: My favorite dishes of the night were Shirley’s shrimp, Justin’s beef pho, and that spring roll from Brian. The shrimp had great flavor and were a perfect example of what this challenge was all about. Justin’s pho was dead-on, and the fact that he nailed it in such a short amount of time was really impressive. And Bryan’s spring roll was really complex with good flavors and nice texture.
Bravotv.com: What do you think the biggest mistakes the chefs made were? What should they have done differently?
EL: The biggest mistake that the chefs made was forgetting the basics. You have to be able to execute on the basics or you won’t make it on Top Chef.
Bravotv.com: How did you ultimately decide who the eliminated chef was when it seemed that a few chefs on the bottom team made errors?
EL: It was a really tough decision, and there were a lot of mistakes, but in the end the shrimp weren’t cooked properly. You have to go home for something like that.
Bravotv.com: Anything else you'd like to add?
EL: I am really enjoying this season of Top Chef, and I particularly liked this challenge. It hit home to what New Orleans is all about. I hope that people at home are having a good time watching and learning about what it is that we do down here. We’ve got some great chefs in this competition, and I can’t wait to see who will catch their big break in the city that brought me mine almost 25 years ago.