Two words: Michael Voltaggio.
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I was honestly having trouble recalling what went down this last episode of Top Chef because all I remember is Voltaggio in that black jacket, Voltaggio whipping out a blindfold from his back pocket, Voltaggio taking a shot of tequila and then Voltaggio sitting at the judges’ table talking so passionately about food.
I wasn’t alone.
Sylva Senat, same, man. Same.
Anyway, I do remember cheftestant Emily Hahn getting eliminated because she failed to give a unique take on her grandfather’s cake for the $500-per-ticket fundraiser they catered. Here are her thoughts on getting kicked off, what it was like being on the show and more.
SheKnows: Were you surprised by your elimination?
Emily Hahn: I felt confident about my dish until I unwrapped it when we began our hour of prep time on Kiawah. I swallowed all of the negative thoughts going through my mind and did what any chef would do. I made the best of the situation and dish and kept my cool. I was not surprised when I was sent home. Overcoming a bad dish is tough in this competition.
SK: What was it like working with all the judges on the show? Who’s the most intimidating?
EH: Tom [Colicchio] by far was the most harsh and intimidating judge. I say harsh, but in reality, he was the most honest and truthful. I was competing with very talented people, and I could not seem to hold on to my confidence and make the food that I make daily with my heart and not my head. I didn’t cook to my best ability, and he knew it and was not afraid to be honest with me.
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SK: Which contestant do you think deserves to win? Or who are you rooting for?
EH: Sheldon [Simeon]’s food is like eating a story about who he is, where he came from, how much love is in his heart and his family. He has so much soul, I think he deserves the win. Brooke [Williamson] is fierce, she is a woman, chef and a person that I admire. She knows what she wants and she is so very talented.
SK: Who did you consider your biggest competition?
EH: I think everyone in the competition gave me some kind of run for my money. Of course, putting veteran cheftestants and new chefs on the show together, I would say my biggest completion was the veteran chefs. They know the game, the cameras, the grueling schedule. For us, it was sort of like running an ultra-run without knowing the route. For them, it was about knowing and preparation.
SK: Was there anyone on the show you really clashed with? Who was it and why?
EH: My moment with John Tesar in the pirate challenge was a low point for me. We did not work well as a team, and I felt the need to “play the game” and not accept that I made a crappy dish. He is a wise chef, he certainly has his flaws, but the past is the past.
SK: What’s one thing that happened behind the scenes that viewers didn’t get to see on the show?
EH: I wish there were some Top Chef bloopers of behind-the-scenes moments. After Restaurant Wars, I felt like I came into my own as a person with the remaining chefs and was able to let my guard down and enjoy them as people. We may or may not have had some bonding moments late night by the ocean — where is the “oops,” shocked-face emoji when I need it?
SK: Who do you think deserved to go home on last night’s episode?
EH: I deserved to go home on this episode. I faltered with the connection from my heart to the dish; it showed.
SK: What was the best experience you had on the show?
EH: I have 15 new friends for life, 15 chefs who are now my peers and lifelong friends to cook with, laugh with and look back on this experience with. That is something not many people get the chance to say they have. Plus, not too shabby for my family and close friends to say they know someone close to them that was on Bravo TV!
SK: What was the biggest challenge for you on the show?
EH: The biggest challenge for me on the show was the timing and the cameras. I have never been a competitive person. I wanted to challenge myself and go as far as I could. I struggle with my nerves all the time. I usually overcome them and execute well, but I found it difficult in front of the cameras and against the clock.
SK: Who’s your favorite Top Chef contestant of all time and why?
EH: Sheldon is by far my favorite Top Chef contestant out of anyone — his smile, his heart, his soul. I keep repeating myself, but he just has some calming and positive energy around him at all times. All of the veterans were a trip to get to know in real life.
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