This week on Top Chef, the contestants prepared a Quickfire dish from a series of “mystery boxes” containing a hodgepodge of ingredients such as rockfish, canned hominy, and passionfruit. They then decamped to CIA headquarters to put classic dishes—onion soup, beef Wellington—“in disguise,” which is Top Chef-speak for “reinvented.” After serving up his clandestine version of veal Parmesan, embattled Hollywood chef Alex Reznik was sent home for a dish with a disguise that guest judge Wylie Dufresne characterized as “really poor execution.” Here we talk with Reznik about the hostility he faced from the other contestants and get his side of the missing-pea-purée drama.
>>For a recap of episode 10, click here.
Veal Parmesan doesn’t seem like a very versatile dish. How did you feel about drawing it?
“I was excited. I love a good veal Parm! There was a lot I could have done. I was thinking of making a tomato soup with veal meatballs or a cold dish, like veal carpaccio. Had I not overcooked my veal, I probably wouldn’t have gone home. I created an inedible dish. Under the pressure, we don’t think like ourselves. I screwed up, and on these kinds of competition shows you can’t make any mistakes because that’s what sends your ass home.”
What’s the real story behind the missing pea purée?
“We’ve had a lot of fun with the Pea-gate scandal. Drama and controversy are good for a show like this—viewers get more engaged. I can’t tell you what happened to Ed’s pea purée. But I can tell you this: Every dish I made on the show, from shopping to cutting, mixing, and cooking, I did on my own. It was unbelievable to me that anyone thought I’d take someone else’s food. I thought it was a joke all along.”
How did you feel about the hostility from the other chefs?
“I hold all the chefs in the highest regard. The friendships I developed with most of them I think will last a lifetime. I’ve since spoken with Angelo, and there are a lot of chefs that called and apologized. It’s a very stressful situation, and sometimes people make bad mistakes.”
What’s up with the spoon in your chef’s jacket?
“I always know where it is. As a chef, you use spoons all the time to stir, to flip, and, most importantly, to taste. Not just a little taste but a spoonful like the guests would have.”
Who’s your pick to win Top Chef?
“Obviously, Angelo has the most fine-dining experience and finesse, but Kevin has that as well, and he cooks from his heart. Ed has so much experience working in New York City, and Tiffany is just a great chef. She has a soulful way of cooking, and you can really taste it. And as far as Amanda—that girl can cook. I’d eat her food any day. It’s a mental game. We’ll see who has the mental abilities.”
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