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.
SheKnows: Were you surprised by your elimination?
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.
SK: What was it like working with all the judges on the show? Who’s the most intimidating?
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.
SK: Which contestant do you think deserves to win? Or who are you rooting for?
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!
SK: Who did you consider your biggest competition?
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.
SK: Was there anyone on the show you really clashed with? Who was it and why?
GS: I don’t think I had enough time to clash with anyone. Plus, everybody is so cool.
SK: What’s one thing that happened behind the scenes viewers didn’t get to see on the show?
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!
SK: Who do you think deserved to go home on last night’s episode?
GS: Obviously because Tesar beat me, I would rather him out than me. Plus, who shows up first episode with truffles?! Really?
SK: What was the best experience you had on the show?
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.
SK: What was the biggest challenge for you on the show?
GS: My biggest challenge was managing anxiety and adrenaline together. I have managed both separately, but together was tough (as you saw).
SK: Who’s your favorite Top Chef contestant of all time and why?
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.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.