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Girl Talk With Top Chef Antonia Lofaso

On this week's Top Chef, we saw final-four contestant Antonia Lofaso leave Puerto Rico. When I spoke to her yesterday, she was in New York lunching with fellow finalist Stephanie. The two chefs were in town for Bravo's A-List Awards, and Antonia was nice enough to take a break from her meal of gnocchi and sweetbreads to chat about her time on the show.

Antonia isn't just a Top Chef contestant; she's also a fan who has watched the series since the first season. To hear how her experience compared to what she'd seen on TV and find out what her 8-year-old daughter thought of it all,


YumSugar: How’d you get involved in Top Chef?
Antonia Lofaso: It was actually something that came through my restaurant group. [Production company] Magical Elves did a little scouting, and they made a recommendation. At that point I was just turning 30 and wanted to put myself out there and push myself.

YS: So were you a fan of the show before?
AL: I’m a huge fan of Top Chef. I watched it since season one. It was kind of nerve-wracking watching it: The day before I left, it was the episode of season three where they had to cook on the plane. I thought, oh my goodness, am I really going to do this right now?

YS: Do you think what viewers see is an accurate representation of what really happens?
AL: I think the show is very accurate. Obviously in the long run, there needs to be a story told and people want to see a story. But for the most part, everyone says what they say and looks the way they look and does what they do. Someone could say, "Oh that was misconstrued," but you did say it. I’m waiting for Top Chef to have replays, where you say, “I didn’t do that,” and then you see Padma hit the switch.

YS: How long were you at judges' table? What was going through your mind?
AL: The whole process goes on for hours. By then it was six o'clock in the morning, and we'd been up since 8 a.m. the previous day. It’s like that movie Defending Your Life. You get up there and talk about your concept. They want to understand the story you’re trying to tell, what experience you were trying to get across with your food. And they let us talk for as long as we need to, so that they have all the information they need to make a proper decision.

YS: What would you have done differently in this challenge?
AL: If I could do it again, I don’t think conceptually I would have done anything differently. I felt like I really wanted to take advantage of the ingredients we had and make it more about the island than about doing pork belly the way I’d normally do pork belly. Execution-wise, absolutely I would do it differently. That’s where I fell the most short was on my execution. I pride myself on being a very strong technical chef, so to be called out for that was hard.

YS: You seemed a bit more frazzled in this episode than in past challenges.
AL: I actually felt that. My restaurant just opened eight weeks out from the show, and to tell you the truth, I wasn’t there mentally in any capacity that I should have been. I got off the plane in Puerto Rico, and my head was still in California. Not that that’s any excuse, but it was just disappointing. Of course everyone’s like, you just opened a restaurant, you haven’t seen your daughter. I knew all this, but I still love the fact that I'm able to produce under those circumstances, and unfortunately I didn’t produce. For me that is upsetting.

YS: How is the restaurant going?
AL: The restaurant is going really, really well. I’m blessed. I’ve got a great location, and the restaurant group is full-force ahead. They plan on opening Foxtail at the Sahara hotel in Las Vegas next.

YS: You said that your daughter told you to win or not come home. Were you allowed back in the house?
AL: Yes I was. My daughter was very sweet actually. You always teach kids that whether or not you win or lose isn’t important, and when I got home it was very, “Aww, don’t worry mommy, at least you tried.” She liked seeing me on TV, but I think it was more exciting for her friends at school. I’m definitely the cool mom.

YS: So this is probably a silly question, but who do you think should win?
AL: I’m sitting here with Stephanie, so I have to say Stephanie. I really hope that Steph takes it. She has a huge heart and great integrity. I love Richard 100 percent, but of course, we’d love to see a woman win this year. And if it’s not going to be me, it’s going to be her.

Photos courtesy of Bravo

Join The Conversation
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
She was one of my favs!
kinkihair kinkihair 9 years
I was never an Antonia fan,I found her a bit off putting. Still she is definitely more talented than Lisa, but she's right, her head wasn't in it in PR and it cost her. Also I don't agree with her trying to cook PR food cause she was in PR. Richard said it best, you use their flavors to enhance your cooking.
HonestMuffin HonestMuffin 9 years
Antonia!! i love her... I cant stand Lisa. Does anyone see a resemblance between the season 1 finals and now, in a sense that they may be keeping Lisa around to be the villain... just like Tiffany was???? Hmmmm, i think about that sometimes. Everyone HATED Tiffany, remember that?
_richL _richL 9 years
I'm still in shock of Dale leaving. Richard is going to win. :)
jellydonut80 jellydonut80 9 years
i hate the weird face that lisa makes at the judges table. makes her freaky looking
Giasbash6260 Giasbash6260 9 years
I cannot believe she got booted, I am royally PISSED!!!! THAT OTHER GIRL who does not seem to be a VERY GOOD COOK AT ALL - who RUINS RICE every single time she makes it - SHOULD HAVE BEEN BOOTED! I swear, if she wins, which SHE WON'T, I will NEVER WATCH THIS SHOW AGAIN & Hunt TOM DOWN and ask him WTF he was thinking!~
mswender mswender 9 years
I really don't think it is about gender. Stephanie has won so many of the elimination challenges. I really want to eat her food the most, then Richard's. I also didn't like Antonia until the Kid/cooking episode. I would love to eat at her restaurant as well.
BostonChick BostonChick 9 years
Love this little interview! It's really a shame Antonia went home but I actually read about her own restaurant doing well so at least she has that. Really happy for her. Best of luck to you, Antonia! And how cute her and Steph lunching together. Totally hoping Stephanie wins this...she's too good of a chef not to.
karisaamy karisaamy 9 years
Great interview - I think she's great - but she didn't do well in the last show
Entertainment Entertainment 9 years
I didn't like Antonia much at first, but I really warmed up to her after the kid-food episode. She still wasn't my favorite (that would be Stephanie, at this point), but I thought she should have been in the final three for sure. I'd love to check out her restaurant someday.
SarahPW SarahPW 9 years time put a spoiler alert on a post like this...i have the show recorded!
foxie foxie 9 years
At least Lisa has a personality. Richard, Antonia, and Stephanie just don't. They're so boring and goody-goody. And it should NOT be about gender! Who cares if a man or a woman wins??? I'm sure the producers are going to give it away to Stephanie just because she's a woman.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i'm still kind of upset that she went home and lisa didn't. i think that the FINAL TWO should have been stephanie and antonia cause they were the best throughout the season, but if antonia can't win then i hope that stephanie does.
MindayH MindayH 9 years
Good interview. She is so cute - and it is nice to see that she was lunching with Steph at the time of the interview - obviously the friendship we saw on tv was genuine
sugar_me_sweet sugar_me_sweet 9 years
I'm disappointed that Lisa is still around and Antonia had to go. If Lisa wins top chef, I'm not watching top chef anymore.
andrealocke andrealocke 9 years
OH Snap! I love that she didn't mention Lisa in the listing of the women. Little zinger right there for you. I loved Antonia and thought she had a good heart and am glad to see that she was able to react to and grow from the show in a positive way. I actually like Richard a whole lot too but am a little bit of a sexist and think it is time for a woman. Go, Stephanie, go!
mlen mlen 9 years
Yea i wanted Antonia, Stephanie, and Richard too- though Stephanie and Richard were my favorites. I thought Antonia did a very good job though- so good for her!
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Complete and total bs that she went home but whatever. She looks really pretty here. and thinner or something. maybe it is the hair. She's a pretty girl.
xtigressx xtigressx 9 years
Towards the end of the season, Antonia showed herself to be a fierce competitor and I was appalled to see her go instead of Lisa. I definitely thought it should be her, Stephanie and Richard in the final three. I think the show itself kept Lisa for the final three for drama because they would have no conflict without her. Lisa and Spike got so far in the competition becaused they created drama and provided good promos for Top Chef! Just my opinion. Best of luck Antonia!
WineUnleashed WineUnleashed 9 years
I actually thought Antonia acted with integrity throughout the whole show. I can't say I was blown away by her ideas but you have to respect that this woman has it together. She is a single mom, young, knows her style of cooking, knows what she is good and not good at. This is admirable for any person in her position. I know she will succeed no matter what. I just think she set a great example for her daughter. That matters more then winning Top Chef. Great Job Antonia!
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 9 years
...because if isn't Antonia or Stephanie, it REALLY shouldn't be Lisa. On this, I think we are in agreement. I never warmed to Antonia the way that many of Yumsugar's other commenters did. I founder to be a bit one-trick, with her commentaries invariably ending (at least in the first few episodes) with "it makes me want to vomit in my mouth", which I found both repetitive and unsavory. Incidentally, if one has just eaten savory and then vomits in their mouth, it's STILL unsavory. :P The thing is, while I never warmed to her, I don't find her nearly as horrible as Lisa, Spike, or Ryan, whose arrogance was severely off-putting.
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