It's down to the wire on Top Chef with only three contestants remaining. Fabio was the first of the Euros to pack up his knives and leave the competition. Yesterday, I had the chance to speak with him over the phone. To find out what he had to say about Stefan, his experience, and Padma's Italian,


On Stefan: He is extremely confident. The difference between me and him is I am a people person, very personable. He doesn't care. He's very straightforward. He's not a cocky guy. He's a great guy, great person, and he is confident. if you want to translate confidence into cockiness, fine with me. If I wasn't confident, I wouldn't be here. It's not a bad thing to be confident, especially in this kind of economy. I could hang out with him all day; sometimes he's at the restaurant, we go party together.

On his elimination: I wasn't upset. I'm a very happy person. I see that I have 13 people behind me and three in front of me, and I get motivated. Life is too short to complain. My dad and my grandfather used to tell me, "If you have a problem, and you know there's a solution, then stop bitching about it." If you know there's no solution, then why bitch about it? There's no solution. When you're the chef you're always in the spotlight.

On Bravo's portrayal of him: Whatever you see is the way that I am. I'm a nice person. Listen, if you see somebody on TV that said "f**k this, f**k that, d*ck here, d*ck there," it doesn't matter how they cut you and paste you — you said those things. They cannot put things in your mouth. That's what you said, that's what you've done. I've been very happy with what I said. If I did misbehave, I apologize for that. That's the way I am, the way I talk, the way I act, the way I cook.

On the judges: Who am I to judge them? With Colicchio, I can agree to disagree. He has done things that I would love to be doing in the next 10 years. I honestly respect his opinion. It's up to you if you are smart enough to take it. Padma was speaking Italian to me. She was modeling for this Italian agency and she was working for this very famous talk show in Italy, so I was actually looking at Padma way before she was looking at my food.

She has a great palate, she's smoking hot, she understands a lot about food. I respect her. She's a very nice person, very personable. We had a good time together. She's very fun.

On the guest judges he disagreed with: I had a big argument with Martha Stewart. My polenta, she said that it was gray, but she didn't even taste it. She dipped her fork in it, she didn't even take a full bite. The other judge was a French guy, Jean-Christophe Novelli. He told me that my cream was not cooked enough and that the egg white was coagulated. I told him there was no egg white in it. I'm saying, there is no egg white in the cream — how's that sound for you? But he's French! Italy, France, they have a history. In food, and wine. Last year there was the World Cup, soccer; I understand. I'm just kidding. You know, I think he's a great chef. It's an opinion. You cannot agree with everything. It's your ass there, you gotta defend yourself a little bit.

On what's next: I will do more TV, I can promise you that. I have a food line coming out. I have an offer for a TV show. What I said is that I am getting a lot of offers. I am getting asked to license my image to food companies. I have a deal with Ducati motorbikes. I am dealing with a TV company, yes — I got a lot of requests; they offered me a job here and there. But don't forget that I am a chef. Everything that I will ever do . . . my first business is food. Unfortunately, you're going to see my face a lot. I am not allowed to talk about it. We will see. Watch what happens. But stay tuned.