Top Chef Exit Interview: Episode Five


In last nights extra-long episode, the cheftestants banded together to make some bad food and the staff of Food & Wine balked at having to eat it at Gails bridal shower. The phrase deconstructed sushi was the first sign that the something new team was doomed, but its culinary architect, Eugene, was spared from elimination. Rather, it was young Danny Gagnon of Long Island who was sent to pack his knives. Tom didn't appreciate the chef's undercooked, unseasoned mushrooms, and Danny's emphatic defense of his cooking didn't help matters. We caught up with him by phone this morning to talk about the judges bad decision and whats so new about pickles.


Oh, Danny, if only that were true.Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

You said in the episode that the word new made you think of pickles. Why?
Pickling is an old technique, and basically to make something new you have to start with old first. Thats why I came up with the idea of pickling do different types of pickling on the plate, and maybe have a protein, a Chilean sea bass or sirloin or filet mignon or something like that, but obviously Gene thought otherwise.

You compared your elimination to a ref making the wrong call in football. What would have been the right call, in your opinion?
The right call would have been getting rid of Eugene and keeping me. Sometimes a football player catches the ball in the end zone, and drops it because of the other guy, but the ref didnt see it and he made a bad call.

Why should Eugene have gone?
The sushi master messed up rice and messed up shrimp tempura. What kind of sushi master does that? Its kind of ridiculous. Gene should have told them how to eat it, and he didnt do that.

Hows that?
It was his idea about deconstructed sushi, and he failed to tell everybody how to eat the damn thing. Everybodys sitting there with their thumbs up their butt, [wondering] "How do I eat this thing?" And thats where the concept failed.

What other factors contributed to your elimination?
They thought I didnt do that much. But I made a barbecue sauce from scratch. Im not taking Peter Lugers sauce and pouring it out of a bottle. Theres a lot of steps involved and a lot of technique involved in making a barbecue sauce. I was kind of shocked.

While you were there, did you ever feel outmaneuvered by the experience of the older contestants?
I saw the other contestants as actually a little less talented than I was. Ariane I always resort back to Ariane, when she was like Move over, little kids, here comes the older woman Get outta here. The judges spit your food out into a napkin. You should have been eliminated. Its ridiculous that shes still on the show.

Shes been winning challenges. What do you think about that?
I think its a bunch of malarkey. I cant take away what people did, and I cant go on from the past and change things, but the proofs in the pudding and her pudding sucked. Her pudding got spit out into a napkin, and people will always remember that.

Are Stefan and Fabio as annoying as they appear to be on the show?
Yeah. These guys are really, really annoying. Theres been multiple cases when I wanted to just throw them off the balcony. But unfortunately, I wasnt allowed to touch the contestants. Theyre very cocky. They think Americans suck, which pissed me off because Im an American, and youre in my backyard here. So watch where you go.

Whos your personal choice for Top Chef?
My personal pick has to be Hosea. I think hes the most talented on the show so far, hes a gentleman, and he can cook his ass off.

Whats your dream job? At the pinnacle of your career, where would you be, what would you be doing?
My pinnacle of my career would be opening up my own restaurant, or being a personal chef. Being a chef is hard. Theres no benefits, no dental, no vision. My dream job is to be happy, to be making good food, making a good salary for my family eventually, and just having medical, dental, and vision, and being comfortable in life. I hope theres a job out there like that for me.