In an upsetting turn of events, Carla lost her cool during the final challenge of Top Chef. Like many people, I was totally disappointed! It was tough to see the normally cheery chef get teary-eyed during judges' table, but you'll be happy to know that when I spoke with her yesterday, "Hootie" was back to her fabulously spirited self. The passionate chef had a lot to say about her experience, and to find out her thoughts on Casey and the competition,
On her "cooking with love" style: I don't know if I was the first contestant who ever cooked with love. Other chefs may not describe it the way the way that I describe it, but it's just the way I am. I'm very passionate about what I do. In any discipline — art or music — if you love what you do, you do good work because you care so much about it.
I know Gail definitely got it, and Toby mentioned it in the finale. A chef isn't just about throwing out a dish that's technically sound. When there are people busting their butts to get you a good meal, you have to understand that there is a piece of me in every dish I make. That's what cooking with love is about.
On Bravo's portrayal of her: Well I think I'm weirder than they made me seem! My friends were like, are you sure you want to show people that side of you? Sometimes I'm really quirky, sometimes I'm introspective, sometimes I'm speaking on a soapbox, but I think they pretty much captured the essence of myself. I wasn't a one-dimensional character. I think they did a good job portraying who I really am.
On Casey being her sous chef: When I was there and afterward I really enjoyed working with Casey. I wanted to work with her. I thought we would connect personality-wise. I do not consider my loss Casey's fault. During the competition you give so much. It's emotionally exhausting trying to think of things. Going into the finale after winning was great, but it was the next day. All of a sudden you have help and you have help from someone who has already been through this. I made the mistake of giving too much power away to Casey. I am prepared to take full responsibility. When you are exhausted, you make a different decisions. I hadn't sold myself on the soufflé dish or changed my idea of the tart. Really it wouldn't have worked anyway because I was still in my head creating it. I know the blogs are blowing up, saying "Casey did her in," but no she did not. I haven't spoken to her and I would love to give her a call. I would love to get her number. If I could get on a loud speaker and say "please do not blame Casey." I just hope she's not getting beat up for that.
On Stefan comforting her at the final judge's table: I think it was really sweet. We had been standing in front of the judges for hours, so it wasn't until the end that I started to break down. After three hours of being badgered, you could tell that I was trying to hold it in and my voice started to quiver. I was really touched because you are so into what you're doing, Stefan and Hosea didn't realize I was falling apart during the service.
They didn't know what happened until judges' table. I really like Stefan. I know he's portrayed as a villain, but he's not a villain. He does not want to win by screwing someone up, he wants to win by doing a good job. I applaud his technique. He was awesome with the alligator! I like the guy.
On Hosea's win: I think he made the best meal. I am so happy for him. He's a really good guy and I am very happy for him. Everyone worked really hard. Should it be cumulative? I'm going to say no because if it was, Hosea would not have been there to win. It's like real life. You get to mess up and if you are still there you get to have a fresh start and you can win the next day. I think that's a really good message in life.
On what's next: I will continue to cater. I don't know what's coming down the pipes. I don't know what will happen. In my own little world, I will continue to cater. I really want to start a sweet and savory petite cooking line and have a chef's table where people can taste my food. I'm teaching a couple of classes in DC. I would love to do more TV. I look at myself and am amazed that I'm able to be myself in front of the camera. My personality seems to have radiated with people. The biggest joy I can get is to inspire people by being myself, so yes I would love to do more television.