‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Camille on Her Favorite Compatriot


Camille, watching over the world's largest pot of soup.Photo courtesy Bravo


Camille Becerra, owner of the Brooklyn restaurant Paloma, was the first hometown casualty on this seasons Top Chef. (It was what judge Tom Colicchio called rubbery pineapple upside-down cake that did her in.) After her elimination on Wednesday's show, she talked to us about the other contestants and her plans to open a Top Chefinspired restaurant blocks away from Paloma this fall.

What did you think of Toms brutal assessment of your upside-down cake?
I tried it, and it didnt work out. They were partially right, and you can only take it as criticism.

Do you think someone else deserved go home instead of you?
You go back and forth with that kind of thinking. I own a restaurant so I was anxious to get back.

What did you think about Caseys eleventh-hour tears at the judging?
Casey is a great girl, but it was a bit over-the-top, I thought.

Did you make any good friends?
I definitely have a special connection to all the New York chefs. When the first episode aired, we got together and Joey prepared something for us. Theyve also come to my restaurant.

What did you think of the Top Chef genre of food? Was it fun to cook?
It was totally fun. Being the sole owner of a restaurant, Im on a budget. Its Brooklyn at the end of the day, my restaurants just a neighborhood spot. These guys worked with product that I hadnt had much experience with for a long time. In that sense, I felt I had to up my game and start incorporating complex flavors.

Are you going to try that at your restaurant?
I would love to, but the restaurants a neighborhood spot and I have to cater to them.
Im opening another restaurant in Greenpoint, down the street. I want to keep them quite separate and different.

Do you think these are the most talented young chefs?
Oh, definitely. In this season, they really shopped around to find the best talent and experience. Friends would come up to me and say I would do well on this show, but Id never really watched it. The casting director went to Marquee one night, and my friend was working the door at the time and said, Shut up! You wont believe it I have the best person for your show.

Have you decided who deserves to win?
I would love to see Dale win. Hes who Im rooting for. Hes very sweet with what he said when I left. Hes also opening a restaurant with a very good friend of mine in Chicago. I really loved his style and his technique. This is the first time Ive said Im rooting for one person. Rebecca Ruiz

Related: Sternbergh Thinks There Are Too Many Locals on Top Chef