Friday, June 24, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Rocco's Dinner Party" Week 2 Winner, Joel Gargano

ATC: Hi Joel

JG: How are you?

ATC: Did you watch the episode last night?

JG: I did. I watched with my wife at home.

ATC: Did anything surprise you?

JG: I was surprised by how well I came off. When you are there, you are kind of nervous and you don’t know how you will be portrayed or edited. I was happy with the way the episode turned out.

ATC: Everyone else was pretty sweaty and you looked calm.

JG: I didn’t feel calm at all.

ATC: You teach culinary arts at a high school?

JG: Yes I teach at West Haven High School in Connecticut.

ATC: That’s pretty unusual isn’t it? Is this a public high school?

JG: Yes. We have a culinary program open to all students from Freshmen to Seniors.

ATC: How long have you been teaching?

JG: I just finished my third year.

ATC: How many students are enrolled in the program?

JG: I have five classes I day, so I guess about a hundred or so students.

ATC: Did you tell your students that you would be on the show?

JG: I didn’t really tell them until the last couple of days of school. They were pretty excited about it.

ATC: Have you heard from them this morning?

JG: Yes, I must have answered about 50 or 60 e-mails this morning.

ATC: Where did you learn to cook?

JG: I grew up in the industry. My parents own a bakery in Connecticut. When I turned 18 I decided to go to Johnson and Wales University in Providence.

I’ve been cooking professionally for about 9 years. In addition to working at the high school I also cook full time. I am working about 80 hours a week during the school year. I like to do both.

ATC: Do you work at a restaurant?

JG: I work at Bar Bouche in Madison. It’s a French Bistro.

ATC: Have you received your check yet?

JG: No. I’m sure it will be here soon.

ATC: Have you made the Dijon sausage before?

JG: Yes, I have. That’s a recipe that I developed a while ago. When I made it at home I thought it was pretty good but in the context of the dish, I had to agree with Rocco. It definitely needed more Dijon.

ATC: How did you learn about the opportunity to participate on the show?

JG: I applied for “Chopped” about a year and I half ago. Although I wasn’t cast in the show, I remained on the e-mail list and applied for this show.

ATC: Do you watch any other Bravo shows?

JG: Yes, “Top Chef.” I'm a big Top Chef fan. I've watched every season. I can’t really get into the Real Housewives.

ATC: Besides Padma, did you recognize any of the other dinner guests?

JG: Yes, definitely D.L. When I got home I googled everyone else!

ATC: Joel, we are almost out of time, is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?

JG: I have fans?

ATC: Of course, you are a Bravolebrity now.

JG: Yes, I’d like say thank you very much and hopefully in the future when I open my own restaurant, they will check it out.

ATC: Thank you Joel.

JG: Thank you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

ATC Interview with JJ Johnson Continued

ATC: Did you watch the episode last night?

JJ: Of course I did.

ATC: Who watched with you?

JJ: My mom, my dad, friends, family.

ATC: Have you received your check yet?

JJ: I have not. I will be checking the mailbox every day at about 1:00 until it arrives.

ATC: How will you spend the money?

JJ: You’re gonna laugh, but I want to take $20,000 and turn it into a million.

I’m gonna invest into some products that I’ve been working on and that I believe in. A food social network platform called I’m working on a healthy lifestyle drink containing oatmeal called OMJ.

These are products that I’ve been working on for a while. I don’t want to go to investors, I want to fund these myself.

I would also like to donate some of my money to my dad’s non-profit basketball program.

ATC: Do you watch Top Chef?

JJ: Of course I watch Top Chef!

ATC: Did you know the celebrities at the dinner party?

JJ: Yeah, of course I recognized Marcus and Kelly. Everyone else I recognized. I might not have known them. It was funny when I watching with my friends, they were like, “Wow, you cooked for this guy?" Or “You cooked for her?”

ATC: How did you learn about the opportunity to compete on the show?

JJ: I was trying out for Chopped and they didn’t put me on the show for some reason. The same casting agency sent me an e-mail and application for another show. I wasn’t sure what it was for, I thought maybe Top Chef.

I sent it in, they called me back, I had about four castings and I cooked for them. They called me about two days before I had to arrive for the show.

ATC: I have a feeling Chopped will be calling you back now.

JJ: I’m not going on.

ATC: JJ, we are almost out of time. Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?

JJ: Yes, look out for Chef JJ, follow me on twitter, friend me on facebook and I will be opening a pop-up restaurant in NYC.

Thank you JJ.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with Naomi Pomeroy - Continued

ATC: What was the best thing about appearing on the show?

NP: Meeting new lifelong colleagues and friends.

ATC: Which was your favorite challenge?

NP: Probably the quickfire with my Dad. I mean, it was awesome for us to all see our family- after having been gone so long, and been through so much. We all were able to go out to dinner together after that challenge and it was very sweet getting to know everyone

ATC: Tell us about your restaurant.

NP: Beast is a tiny 24 seat fixed menu restaurant. We do 6 courses- and the menu changes each week. It is only me, my sous-chef, 2 cooks, and 2 servers.. It's a small operation. A family really. I love it. We are all really happy and self expressed- and it shows in our food I think.

ATC: Congratulations on your very strong showing.

NP: Thanks. It was really fun, and I was happy to have made $25,000 for my charity! Honestly, I wouldn't have done so well if it wasn't for the support and encouragement of Traci and Floyd. I really felt like they were a huge support and I really appreciated getting to know them, and all the other chefs.

ATC: What are you working on now?

NP: I am just back to cooking everyday!! It's nice. I go to the farmers market, haul produce around in my car- talk to farmers- It's all very glamorous !! (Kidding). It's my life and I love it. I hug my kid a lot..and Just built a chicken coop in my back-yard .... (soooooo Portland!) hahaha

ATC: Chef Naomi, is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?

NP: Just that I appreciate the support through the show. I feel like most of my fans probably really love cooking and simple delicious food.. .I say keep it up! Cooking is about practice- and patience..and I want to encourage people to know about their food, connect to it, and connect to their families through it...