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Top Chef Chicago Interview – Six Chefs Speak!


[b]Any advice for bumbling idiots in the kitchen like me?[/b]

[b]Lisa[/b] You are either a natural in the kitchen or you are not. If you are not meant to be in the kitchen, get a boyfriend/girlfriend who knows how to cook. :) (Writer’s Note – already did that!)

[b]Richard[/b] Don’t be afraid

[b]Nikki[/b] Stay out! No, really if you truly want to learn, make an effort. It is not a difficult thing if you let your guard down. I find so many home cooks are just afraid to experiment and unsure of how to prepare foods. My advice would be to get a basic educational cook book that has more than just recipes but procedures and techniques. You can have fear of the kitchen and ingredients, it truly holds you back.

[b]Zoi[/b] Eat. Read. Get inspired. Practice. It’s not like riding a bike. It’s like speaking another language. It takes practice and repetition. And don’t freak out. It’s food. Have fun, enjoy it.

[b]Mark[/b] The correct wording for knifework is called “choppy, choppy.” I got this far and I never went cooking school.

[b]Steph[/b] Order take out. (Writer’s Note -……..sorry, still laughing)

[b]Is Padma as blindingly attractive as she appears on TV? Did you have to look at her through a small hole in a piece of paper to avoid damaging your retina? [/b]

[b]Lisa[/b] That’s funny! Padma is very attractive. Personally, I think she is more attractive in person than on TV.

[b]Richard[/b] I’m biased to my wife who is much prettier, but Padma is better looking in person!

[b]Nikki[/b] Padma is as big a diva as she appears to be. She is naturally very beautiful.

[b]Zoi[/b] She’s hotter in person.

[b]Mark[/b] Fortunately not…I’m not blind. My wife is less maintenance and twice as nice. Plus she eats regularly. (Writer’s Note – Damn, did Mark just take a shot at Padma?)

[b]Steph[/b] Is she really that blindingly gorgeous! I think in person Gail Simmons has a much prettier face. (Writer’s Note – and so did Steph! Although I agree that Gail is highly underrated in that way)

[b]Create your ultimate kitchen/restaurant – staff, cuisine, location, guests, you name it.[/b]

[b]Lisa[/b] That would take me days to type out! But basically, a place where the food is amazing, the atmosphere is fun and energetic, the staff loves their jobs, killer drinks and of course, Asian cuisine!

[b]Richard[/b] My concept is a kitchen without a dining room, where guests sit in different stations of the kitchen and where cooks serve. (Writer’s Note – That is an awesome idea!! I need to get down to Atlanta!)

[b]Nikki[/b] Located in the West Village or on the ocean somewhere in the Mediterranean (big difference!). A brand new kitchen – at least 2200 square feet – with a refrigerated butchering room and separate pastry kitchen. I have a great management team and partners so I will keep them but have just one big investor. My guests would be food savvy without the pretense and know the ins and outs of kitchen and restaurant etiquette.

[b]Zoi[/b] I’m working on it. I’m not telling though. You will have wait and see for yourself!

[b]Mark[/b] I’m going to open New York’s first New Zealand restaurant… Watch What Happens. (Writer’s Note – Awesome!!!)

[b]Which needs to go more: Richard’s hairdo, Spike’s hats or Lisa’s stare?[/b]

[b]Richard[/b] Lisa’s stare I guess, I like Richard’s hair.

[b]Nikki[/b] Lisa’s stare, Richard’s hair and then Spike’s hats.

[b]Zoi[/b] The hats were a little overdone, I thought, and Lisa’s attitude too. But we all cope (and strategize) in different ways. And it proved to work for them, so who am I to say. And I like Richard’s hair.

[b]Mark[/b] I doubt Lisa will ever give up the stink eye, that’s how she normally looks, I would be concerned for her if she actually looked happy.

[b]Steph[/b] I guess we are all over the faux hawk… but I can’t picture Richard any other way.

[b]Have you read anything written about you by sarcastic, jaded bloggers? And if so, can you forgive me…er…them?[/b]

Only one person answered this question and I am printing it solo here because it somewhat depressed me. I know that other than his hair, I didn’t say much against Richard – I really dug the guy – but if anything that I said got under his skin, I apologize. Perhaps just reading his few words on this question will make us all think about what we write and say about another person from time to time.

[b]Richard[/b] Some of the blogging stuff hurts.

[b]To steal from Inside the Actor’s Studio… Your favorite curse word (we know you all like to curse)?[/b]

[b]Richard[/b] Maird. (Editor’s note: Merde?)

[b]Nikki[/b] I was glad that they didn’t show me cursing a lot on the show but I do love to curse. Douche is my favorite word du jour.

[b]Zoi[/b] “Malaka” it’s Greek…look it up. (Writer’s Note – I did. I love this definition – Greek term for someone who has jerked off so many times that his brain has become soft, and he is now an idiot)

[b]Mark[/b] – Baby Jesus. (Writer’s Note – Ha!)

[b]If a dish was named after you, what would you want it to be?[/b]

[b]Richard[/b] RBQ

[b]Nikki[/b] “Delicious.” I have a tattoo that says delicious in Hebrew.

[b]Zoi[/b] I don’t need a dish named after me… really. If someone made something for me and they wanted to name it after me, ok. I would be honored.

[b]Steph[/b] Tasty Snacks.

[b]What restaurant that you would eat your last meal at, other than your own? Who would cook it, other than yourself?[/b]

[b]Lisa[/b] I have no idea… I’ve been so busy with work, I’m a little out of touch with restaurants other than my own right now.

[b]Nikki[/b] My last meal would never be my own and most chefs prefer to be cooked FOR. I think maybe Alice Waters – all fresh and organic. (Writer’s Note – Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse, creator of the California Cuisine in Berkely)

[b]Zoi[/b] My last meal would not be in a restaurant. It would be with my friends and family. Maybe on the beach, a BBQ, everyone would bring their favorite thing…

[b]Steph[/b] El Bulli with Ferran Adrian (Writer’s Note – Considered one of the best restaurants in the world – located in Catalonia, Spain)

[b]What would you say to someone that wants to be on Top Chef?[/b]

[b]Lisa[/b] Don’t let the stress get to you and don’t second guess yourself…

[b]Richard[/b] It’s a lot tougher than you think.

[b]Nikki[/b] Do not let the tiredness, bullshit, and unfairness get to you and fight like hell. Be classy, dignified and professional.

[b]Zoi[/b] Go for it. But, be ready for your life to change. Make sure it’s “you”. Be yourself.

[b]Mark[/b] Give it a go, mate.

[b]Steph[/b] Try not to look like an a** – 3 million people are watching!

[b]Give us a shameless plug![/b]

[b]Richard[/b] – Home, Atlanta, GA, buckhead – Flip, Atlanta, GA, midtown Atlanta – Trail-Blais, “innovation in matters concerning taste”

[b]Nikki[/b] I am working on a book and a clothing line and consulting for another restaurant but most of all – my baby comes first… 24 Prince, the best Nolita restaurant.

[b]Zoi[/b] No. Already have.

[b]Mark[/b] The next big opening in New York may be located on the corner of Bleeker and Bowery.


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