This week we bid farewell to the final San Francisco-based Top Chef candidate, and while it was a bit of a shock — many of you thought Jen's recent departure from Top Chef was a bit untimely — it was definitely a fun episode. The stakes are high, and there's no room for error. Yesterday I got to sit down and chat with Jen Biesty and found out what she thought of her elimination, her fellow contestants, and her new upcoming restaurant. To see what she had to say,
YumSugar: We've been rooting for you this season and were bummed to see you go. So tell us, how was your experience there? Other than having to leave, is there anything you'd do differently?
Jennifer Biesty: I kinda wish, okay, this is going to sound totally vain, but I wish I didn't wear my glasses.
YS: Really? I liked your glasses.
YS: Well, what was it like watching yourself on TV?
JB: It was fun you know. You tend to criticize yourself a lot. I think I was okay with it. It's really more about the response from other people. My friends said I looked good on camera, and I think the camera likes me. I felt okay, but you do over criticize, like I hate that angle sort of thing. But I wouldn't mind seeing myself on TV more.
YS: Are you looking into doing another show?
JB: It's something in the back of my head. I think it would be fun. If I had a cooking show, or something local it would be fun. My personality would be more like in the Jamie Oliver realm, goofy but interesting and fun to watch. Whereas Food Network is a bit stale right now, although it's getting better with other kinds of shows. I think it would be fun to do something someday.
YS: At the end of last night's episode you said, "I really don't think there was any reason for me to be sent home." If that's the case, then who do you think should have been sent home?
JB: Out of the two teams on the chopping block, one of the other team's members should have gone home. I was completely shocked. I thought the judges would have sent home Lisa. I only say this because I know that, in my head, they probably really like Antonia, and since their dish didn't represent what their comedy skit was . . .
YS: Why do you say this about Antonia?
JB: In my opinion, I thought the producers really liked Antonia. And well, Lisa had a bit of a bad attitude. I mean I don't have anything against anyone on the show. I just thought if anyone was going home, it wasn't going to be me.
YS: What were you thinking during judge's panel?
JB: I was confident. I was totally shocked. Steph was more nervous than I was. She said she'd been on the block a few times and that she was going home. I told her no way, we had big flavors and represented what we were supposed to do and they didn't. Chilean Sea Bass? Come on.
YS: So, what was it like being there after Zoi left?
JB: In a way, it was, [pause] I was really upset about it obviously, because I'm so proud of her and she's such a great chef and natural talent. But you know it's a competition. I said I was doing this for Zoi, and that was clipped in there. I really wanted to get down to the final three and show my stuff. I just took it on as a competition that I was going to win and I didn't. I just kept my game on.
YS: How long were you there without her?
JB: Well there was Zoi, then Ryan and me. About a week. They really kicked off the SF folks.
YS: Our office has been joking about an SF-ousting conspiracy, and that's why they wanted you out.
JB: Well you know, I wonder since they placed this lesbian couple on the show, and with Zoi gone, maybe I wasn't needed? [Laughs]
YS: Did the producers interact with you guys much?
JB: No, only when they had to read the rules to things. But no, not really, they definitely kept their distance.
YS: Have you kept in touch with the other chefs?
JB: Dinner from Ryan, Erik, Zoi and I was recently auctioned off at Taste of the Nation. We raised over $24,000. But we're not really supposed to see each other. Though through the internet, and myspace and all that, I've kept in touch with the other chefs.
YS: You can see Zoi though, right? Are you two still together?
JB: Yeah, we're still together and we can see each other. You're not supposed to discuss what was shown on the show, although I'm sure other folks talk to their wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, but you're not supposed to.
If I didn't have Zoi, it would be really hard to explain what it's really like. She was there, she knows. It's like when someone goes to Iraq, they can't explain what it was like. Okay, that's really overdramatic, but you know what I mean. I feel for us, we have the ability to process the whole thing with each other.
YS: So who are you rooting for right now?
JB: I want one of the girls to win. Of course, and I dunno, Dale and I pretty much bonded, so I want the best for him. Antonia and Steph, I got along really well with those two and they're both really talented I want a girl to win, and one of those two girls would be great.
YS: In your exit interview on Bravo's website, you mention a new restaurant concept. Could you expand on that at all?
JB: Scott, who's the bartender at Coco 500, and I are working on a project together, and it might happen really soon. I'm leaving Coco at the end of May. And the new project will be sort of a Cesar style place, tapas style with a casual atmosphere and great mixology. We have a location here in San Francisco that might work out soon. If that doesn't, then we'll have to wait.
YS: Do you have a name for the place yet?
JB: [Laughs] We're kind of both opinionated. I have an idea and he has one. We're hoping to figure it all out soon. It should be soon, within a few months.
Photos courtesy of Bravo