‘Top Chef’ Finalists Reveal Gripey Tension

The Finalists

Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

Theyve endured inane cooking challenges on yachts and airplanes. They suffered through guest judge Rocco DiSpirito. They even cried together. Now its all coming to an end tonight when the remaining three cheftestants try to out-cook each other on the season finale of Top Chef. We presented three questions each to Dale Levitski, Casey Thompson, and Hung Huynh and found them all to be a little defensive. The pressure is on!

Dale Levitski

Dale Levitski says your opinion is uneducated.Photo: Courtesy of Bravo


You admitted on last weeks episode that you hadnt cooked for a year and a half. How did you convince the producers to let you on the show?
I didnt tell them. In the interview process, my rsum was strong so it was based on merits and personality. It had been kind of mentioned [during filming] that I was rusty a few times. The one where it bit me in the ass was the Le Cirque challenge. I made a lot of very stupid, stupid mistakes. I really felt the dust on my bones on that one.

Have you paid attention to the blogs? I ask because Gawker has called you the real villain of Top Chef.
They did? If anything its just that theyve seen an edited version of a large story. People will have their opinions for sure. Go ahead and have your opinion because its uneducated.

Why should you win?
I think I conducted myself as the most well-rounded chef in my cooking and actions. Its a competition about being a chef, and I think I represented myself and my craft very, very well. I hope that will pull me through.

Casey Thompson

Casey Thompson is not a crybaby.Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

What do you make of the story line pitting your soul against Hungs skills?
Hung is the most technically proficient chef out of us three right now. I would take soulfulness over technique any day. You can learn technique, but I dont think you can learn soul. I think the ultimate decision should be made on whos the most well-rounded chef.

You cried a lot in the beginning. Was that hard to watch on TV?
The first time I cried I cant go in-depth about it its pretty grueling, and you dont always get to see that. Youre tired and beat down, but I felt really bad for the contestants since they were getting hammered on a lot. I regretted that because crying is not a part of this business. Theres no time to cry. The rest of the time, I dont know why it looks like that. Its just my sad face that people are confusing with crying. The only other time I cried was when Lia left. I blinked my eyes and tears came out.

Theres been so much talk about your looks and whether youll win because of them. Is that frustrating?
It is really frustrating. Bourdain put it best on his blog. He was responding to the Eric Ripert Quickfire Challenge and said, Im sick of all you conspiracy theorists out there. The woman is good. Will you people just acknowledge it? I was flattered. Thats the way I look at it. Yeah Im a girl. I guess Im okay-looking, but I busted my ass for this. Thats just the way of the world.

Hung Huynh

Hung Huynh is not a bum on welfare.Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

Whats it like to be you these days with everyone questioning your soulfulness?
People who are judging me who sit on their ass at home may say that, but professionally they recognize my talent. Its more of a story line, I think. What drives me to be really successful is because I came from a Third World country and I was given the opportunity to come to America to be successful and not be a bum and live on welfare.

What will you do if you lose?
I would think that this show is a freaking fraud and is not based on food. Every team challenge, I was on top. Im a great leader. I run a kitchen with 25 to 30 cooks. If I lose, Ill know that I killed it, but I will not be disappointed because Ill know it wasnt based on food.

Why should you win?
Because Im a badass chef. I should win because I have the most passion, dedication, and technique. Ive dedicated myself since I was 11 or 12 years old, and my personality really comes through. Ive spent most of my life perfecting things. My flavor profiles, my technique, my cooking experience is way better than [Dales and Caseys]. They cannot compare.
Rebecca Ruiz