This year Top Chef threw a new twist at us. For the first time there's a couple participating on the show. Will they have an advantage? Will they mess with others heads? And will they still be together when it's all over?
Recently we had a chance to talk with Jennifer Biesty, one half of the dynamic duo and executive chef at the popular Coco500 in San Francisco. To find out what she had to say about her experience on Top Chef, as well as what's next for her,
YumSugar: Why'd you decide to audition?
Jennifer Biesty: There's nothing really else out there quite like Top Chef. It's kind of a cross between culinary olympics and — I found this out later — a little bit Survivor, Real World. The part that made me interested was the chance to compete and be acknowledged against your peers.
YS: What was the audition process like?
JB: A bunch of us, five of my friends, went down on a whim. They ended casting calls at 4 p.m., I got there at 3:30. I was surprised to see how many people were there and who was there, a lot of chefs from the city. You lined up and you waited to get into the room. You brought your résumé and head shot, and they asked you a bunch of questions. It was way more on the Hollywood side, I knew I had to look a certain way.
YS: Was the experience what you were expecting?
JB: As far as the challenges go, yes it was. The whole situation is pretty stressful. Not knowing what you were walking into every day, I definitely expected that. But the level of difficulty . . .
YS: Did you feel like you and Zoi [her girlfriend and fellow contestant] had an advantage?
JB: Yeah, in a way. Everyone else is like, I miss my girlfriend, my son, daughter, dog. We just missed our dog.
Being able to be together was great. It was distracting as well. But it was an advantage to be able to talk to your partner, your best friend, and support.
YS: How was it competing against her?
JB: It was difficult. It's kind of a touchy subject. It was a lot of fun at times, especially in the beginning. We're both confident and really capable chefs. We just looked at the other competition and said we can crush these guys. We used the advantage of being a distraction.
YS: Were you concerned about what the other contestants would think?
JB: We were concerned at first, but once we met everyone we weren't. We thought there would be one antagonist or possibly some homophobia, but we ended up not facing any of that.
YS: Are you worried about how you're going to be portrayed?
JB: A little bit, not too much. Of course you can't help but think back and wonder if they're going to show this scene, or that scene. But no, I'm not really that concerned, more curious.
YS: This year you guys could each bring $200 worth of your own things. What did you bring?
JB: That was interesting. They tell you that, but you don't know how you'll be able to use these things. I thought maybe it would be a challenge, so I tried to get things that would work well together if they had to. I brought great local olive oil, good barrel-aged Italian vinegar. Oh and I brought my own spice rub, with wild fennel that I collected from Marin. Just the kind of stuff that you could build a base with, you know?
YS: So what's next for you?
JB: I'm still at Coco500, but I was working on something before the show. Working on my own project. I don't know if I'm going to be leaving, maybe after the Summer/early Fall. Being on the show will be able to get me to move quicker on it, maybe find investors. Zoi and I have talked about opening a place in Sonoma, but that might be a few years out.
Also, I'm really open. I really enjoyed the whole media side of it. I found it really intriguing. I would definitely be interested in doing that. If Toyota wants me to do a commercial, I'll do that, too!
Photos courtesy of Bravo