Top Chef has finally returned — to beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. And with its return came quite the twist: We'd see the return of eight veterans (including Sam Talbot, thank God) compete with eight new cheftestants.
After a Quickfire challenge where the new chefs had to create as many dishes as they could with a whole chicken, Jim Smith, executive chef for the state of Alabama, took the win and immunity by surprisingly using the innards. However, Gerald Sombright's dish left him on the bottom, competing against veteran John Tesar — and losing. The good news? He has a chance to compete in Last Chance Kitchen (yep, it's back!). So, hey, maybe we'll see him back on the show.
We had the chance to ask Sombright, the first eliminee, a few questions about his short time on the show — including the super interesting conversations between contestants that happened behind the scenes.
Gerald Sombright: Yes, I was very surprised! I know I gave it 210 percent, and I felt so good about my dish and actually taking the challenge literally.
GS: The judges are great and easy. Obviously, because they’re on the opposite side. Tom, I think, will always be able to get to you as a chef because we all respect him and his career so much.
GS: Honestly, it's anybody's game. And I genuinely like these people so much that I can't pick one. I will say I hope John [Tesar] goes far because it would suck if he loses the next challenge!
GS: Honestly, I considered the advantage the vets have to the competition intimidating because you do need time to get acclimated. But I considered myself my biggest opponent.
GS: I don't think I had enough time to clash with anyone. Plus, everybody is so cool.
GS: Behind the scenes, there was much more conversation about our country, slavery and what happened at the Boone Plantation. It was a great conversation!
GS: Obviously because Tesar beat me, I would rather him out than me. Plus, who shows up first episode with truffles?! Really?
GS: Hands down, the best experience was the people. This group of human beings are compelling, jovial and inspiring. I consider it a huge honor to have been a part of this with them.
GS: My biggest challenge was managing anxiety and adrenaline together. I have managed both separately, but together was tough (as you saw).
GS: My favorite ever would have to be the season with the brothers. There's not a specific person, but the talent pushed the creativity and the entire cast to culinary highs unseen on Top Chef — before this season, of course!
Top Chef airs Thursdays at 10/9c on Bravo. Be sure to catch the first episode of Last Chance Kitchen directly after Episode 2 on Dec. 8 at 11/10c.
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