This week, Top Chef contestants tackled a baby-centric Quickfire challenge, creating dishes for judges Tom and Padma, as well as a puréed version for their newborn offspring. They then divided into pairs for a ho-hum Elimination Challenge featuring breakfast, lunch, dinner and a confusing “tournament-style” judging system. After losing out with a breakfast of strangely textured Spanish tortilla, and lunch of overly complex raw-tuna cannelloni, chefs Arnold Myint and Lynne Gigliotti “cooked for their lives,” bucking the short-rib trend to produce black mussels in red curry with squid-ink pasta. Alas, undercooked pasta undermined the team, and both chefs were sent to pack their knives. We spoke with them about Padma’s baby, figure-skating, and the advice they’d give to future contestants.
First things first: Did you get to meet the babies?
Lynne: “We did get to meet Padma’s baby. She’s adorable.”
Did she taste the food?
Arnold: “Well, Padma ate it, and Padma’s nursing, so I’m sure she tasted it.”
How did you two decide to pair up with each other?
Lynne: “I enjoyed working next to [Arnold] on the same table. For my vacation, I’m actually motoring down to Atlanta to visit with Tracey and Arnold.”
Arnold: “We’re a good fit. We’re really good friends.”
Tom said the texture of your Spanish tortilla was “strange.” What was it like?
Lynne: “I tasted it, and it was really smooth and creamy and delicious. We didn’t get to taste any of the other dishes. But we loved our breakfast.”
Arnold: “In terms of the challenge, considering the travel time [for room service], it was a very efficient breakfast, a perfect hotel breakfast.”
Arnold, how has your experience as a professional figure skater influenced you as a chef?
Arnold: “I glide around the room at my restaurant like I did when I skated. Restaurants are a production, and I approach it that way. Every single night, the curtain goes up, let’s go. And my food, they’re the skaters.”
Lynne, what kind of reaction have you received from your students at the Culinary Institute America?
Lynne: “I was maintaining a very low profile, and people were very respectful of it. I haven’t walked into school yet, but it should be interesting to see the response.”
What’s going on with the possessive labeling of ovens?
Arnold: “I seem like a label whore, but I didn’t do it.”
Lynne: “I didn’t do it either, and it was really a bone of contention with me. But the mayhem makes for better TV.”
Arnold: “That wasn’t blown out of proportion.”
Lynne: “She’s a good button pusher.”
Do you think she has the cooking skills to go further?
Lynne: “I think she’s talented.”
Arnold: “Who are we to judge? I was put on as a token gay, and I cooked some good stuff. We’re all there for a reason, and we all have something to prove.”
Any advice for future contestants?
Arnold: “Approach it one of two ways: it’s a game, it’s fun, and a great experience. Or you can cross-train like it’s the Olympics. Whatever you decide, it’s a one-shot deal. Enjoy, and be honest with yourself and with your approach.”
Lynne: “Don’t wait until you’re 50.”
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