Top Chef Goodbye Interviews: Jacqueline Lombard

After the judges sent this caterer home, she talked to us about the curse of making dessert, Amanda's attitude, and what her biggest weakness was.

Maybe Jacqueline was just too damn nice for the cut-throat culture of Top Chef. Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.

Wednesday night’s episode of Top Chef saw a sandwich-making Quickfire that forced the chefs to work tied together in pairs (hilarious for the viewer, perhaps not so amusing for the cheftestants), followed by an elimination challenge that grouped them into teams of four to create a healthy, budget-friendly school lunch. With her teammate Amanda insistent on dishing up the unlikely kid’s meal of braised chicken thighs in sherry jus, Jacqueline Lombard was left with meager fixings to prepare her banana pudding. Alas, two pounds of sugar later, judge Tom Colicchio deemed Jacqueline’s dessert “grainy, loaded with sugar, and not very nutritious” and sent the Brooklyn chef home. We caught up with her today to discuss the combative atmosphere at judges’ table, grocery shopping for 50 on a tight budget, and why she didn’t know that desserts on Top Chef are usually the kiss of death.

>>For a recap of episode 2, click here.

Was Amanda really as selfish a teammate as she appeared to be?
“Amanda took the competition very seriously. She had a take-no-prisoners attitude, and she was working for herself and no one else, versus having us come together as a team. [At judges’ table] I defended the team, but my teammates only defended themselves.”

Do you regret making a dessert?
“I didn’t want to be the one to do dessert, but I was the only member of the team with pastry experience, which everyone kept bringing up. I would’ve loved to do the chicken! But [dessert] was the hand I was dealt.”

Do you feel your team had the worst plate of food?
“My team felt very strongly that, based on the critiques, our dishes were much less offensive. Angelo’s team was really the losing team. They had a total lack of nutritional quality. They served carbohydrates and sugar in all four of their dishes, which was way worse than Amanda’s boozy chicken. We served 19 ounces of health with one ounce of sugar.”


How did you feel when you were at the checkout counter at Restaurant Depot left with only bananas and milk to make your dessert?
“In Amanda’s defense, the product she purchased was about $4. It was a cooking sherry—it wasn’t as if she purchased a $20 product that screwed me out of buying chocolate or a sugar substitute like honey. We were already over budget by $30, and everyone had to take things off the cart. I definitely could have fought harder for $5 and thrown away the bananas and just done strawberries.”

Did Angelo sabotage his team? Was he strategizing to get Kenny sent home?
“I really don’t believe that. He and Tracey were really relaxed because they had immunity, so they didn’t give as much thought or effort to the design of their meal. They were in it to win with a fun attitude, versus a nutritional-guidelines attitude.”

Do you have any advice for future contestants?
“Watch the show before you go! That was my biggest weakness. There are certain strategies that work well in the Top Chef kitchen that I wasn’t aware of.’

So you didn’t watch a single episode before you went on the show?
“I don’t have a television. Top Chef was very much on my radar, but in terms of seeing it, no.”

>>For more Top Chef DC coverage, click here.

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