Bravotv.com: You said you weren't too familiar with hot dogs, but were with sausage -- did you get to try hot dogs in New York? What did you think?
Oh yes, i am a big hot dog "aficionado." You think that in the few days off that we had in New York i had more or less 50 of them. It's the only bad behavior that i have food-wise, and yes i had never made one so ... that was a challange for me, but i know how make killer sausage so, I was not worried.
Bravotv.com: Moving on to the Elimination, you've said how much you respect Tom -- what was it like cooking in his kitchen and having him expedite?
Colicchio for me is a model to follow, even if probably beside his new restaurant Tom Tuesday, he is not cooking so much anymore. He is still a person that built an empire out of his passion, and he did it in New York. It is a model, not just for me but for every person in this businness. He said once that you can either choose to be a big fish in a small pond, or try to make it in New York. I agree with him -- for now I am a very good fish in a small pond (Moorpark is a small town ) but trust me, New York is in line for me. I dont have the finance now to open a restaurant there, but after 18 years of busting my ass off always with the same passion and consistency for 12 plus hours a day, the idea of working there does not scare me at all. Different from most of the big fish in big pond like you have in NY, I did not grow up under the influence of big name chefs. Every single write-up, every single award that I got is just because of what I've done not because where I was working. It is much easier be one of the youngest best chefs in this country if you've been working for Colicchio, or Keller or Batali or some other guru of the restaurant business. They have the media; you are a very good chef and you are already there. Nobody give a rat's ass to come out in Moorpark and check some of us out. There are many young talents in the countryside that are better than most of the chefs in New York, but for the nature of this businness they will always be very good small fish, because the media attention and the magazines that count prefer have most of their dinner in the big pond. And yes, it was a true honor for me have him expedite my food. Bravotv.com: What was the inspiration for your dish? Did you consider doing either of the other two courses?
I did not choose the appetizer. I asked to do a dessert but there were already 10 people asking for it. I am a complete chef -- I can do everything so i decided to go with an appetizer, and for the fact that i never stop studying, I decided to implement a very rustic dish with some modern technique ... tha's all. Italians invented Carpaccio, in Venice in late 1950 and now everybody serves it. I can tell you the story of carpaccio one time if you want.
Bravotv.com: Is your olive technique something people can do at home?
Is not impossible but the problem is to find Sodium Alginate, Calcic Acid, and Citric Acid. If you can find these three elements then you can also play at home.
Bravotv.com: What did you think of the other dishes? Were you surprised how poorly everyone did overall?
I was very focused on mine. I had the chance to taste few ot them. I dont know -- its their businness, but this for me was the time to shine. I dont really know about the quality of the other plates as I didn't taste everything, but I know that Jamie had a great soup and I liked very much the entree of Stefan.
Bravotv.com: Why did you assume you were in the bottom at Judges' Table?
That was a horrible mistake, because, they started with Carla telling her that she was the light in the dark of the day, so i thought i was part of the dark and I was pissed, so i went off as soon as Padma said my name. I am very passionate about what I'm doing and that situation pissed me off. Sorry. Bravotv.com: How big a boost of confidence was your win after the episode?
I am always very confident, but is always good to win, but even if you don't win, it does not mean that you are not good. It is a competition based on a single event based on opinion, so unless you do something that is absolutely wrong (and then you have to reconnize it), all the judgements are opinions. You may not like something that for me is good, but is the judges' opinions are all that matter.
Bravotv.com: You and Stefan seem very close -- what is that relationship like to you? What is the level of competition between the two of you like?
We are both very European and very passionate. We are good friends, we are always together. He doesn't have a restaurant so he is always at my restaurant and we have lots of fun together. The level of competition is very high. We both are the most experienced chefs in the competition with very good backgrounds (all over Europe, Asia, and now America ), so we are very focused competitors and we don't like to lose; it's a BATTLE!! And like I said there are many good chefs in this house. We will see who lasts and who doesn't. I hope he lasts till the end. I would like battle him in the final (hopefully I will be there too).
Bravotv.com: How has your life changed so far since the show has started airing?
Like i asid, Moorpark, the city where my restaurant is, is a small city (40,000 people) and are all rooting for their home boy, so people wish me luck all the time and last Wednesday I got 300 people at the restaurant. At the time of the show everybody showed up; it was a a big loud night. Now nobody likes Danny for what he said about the Euro duo, but it's OK. I dont care. I am having so much fun reading all the blogs. I love when people that don't know me come to a conclusion about what kind of person I am after a 40-minute video. I love it!!! This has been great for me so far. I love Moorpark and I love every single person in this town -- they all support me very hard. Moorpark should be the next capital of California!!!