Mike Isabella (who’s about to leave his post as chef of Zaytinya) talks to us about stolen ingredients, a dark horse in the race, and talented but boring contestants.
The million-dollar question from last week: Do you think Alex stole Ed’s pea purée? If so, that’s the ultimate back-stabbing move, huh?
“Haha. I don’t know. They certainly suggest the pea purée was stolen! I think Ed left it behind. It happens. Although theft makes for a better show.” (For a recap of Episode 7, click here.)
Andrea made an excuse for her swordfish, saying that she never eats it so she didn’t know how to cook it. What do you think of that?
“Can’t cook swordfish? What is that? A chef needs to know how to cook everything, not just the stuff you’d eat.”
Kelly was really upset about trying to understand the judges’ taste preferences as far as seasonings go. It seems like it’d be hard to play to a bunch of different palates. What do you think?
“You have to be smart and consider your audience when you cook, but you also have to let yourself—you as a chef—show through. It’s a fine line to walk sometimes, but you need to learn how to do it. Ultimately, you need to be happy with what’s on that plate. If you were just executing someone else’s vision, it’d be called Top Line Cook.”
Once again, Angelo came up the winner in the Quickfire Challenge. Do you still feel good about him as a top contender?
“Angelo has clearly got some skills and he’s very confident, something that not all the contestants share, and that gives him an edge. But it gets kind of boring to watch. What did Angelo cook? Oh that’s right—Asian food. It seems like it’s always the same style of cooking, the same flavor profiles. I think he needs to show some range.”
In your initial predictions, you also had faith in Kevin. He’s been in the bottom a lot. How do you feel about him now?
“I worked with Kevin and know him well. He’s amazing cook. I see him gaining a lot of confidence as the season progresses. I think the stumbles at the beginning don’t really tell the story. I always knew he had it in him to come out on top in this competition, and I think you’re going to see him come back huge.”
You also predicted John, Jacqueline, Tracey, and Lynne going home early. You were right on all accounts. What are your predictions going forward?
“Andrea didn’t surprise me too much. I think the next to go are Alex, Amanda, and Stephen. I think Tiffany and Ed will hang on a bit longer, but in the end it will come down to Kevin, Kenny, Angelo, and Kelly.”
>>For more Top Chef DC coverage, click here.
Follow the Best Bites Bloggers on Twitter at twitter.com/bestbitesblog