'Top Chef' contestant talks elimination and cruise cooking

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Image Credit: Matthias Clamer/Bravo

SPOILER ALERT: Don’t keep reading unless you want to know who was eliminated from Top Chef last night.

This week’s cruise ship challenge had all the chef-testants trying to find their culinary sea legs. Unfortunately, Stefan Richter was sent overboard after serving up a twist on surf and turf that included pork belly and eel and parsnip ravioli. EW chatted with the eliminated chef about what really went down during the challenge, as well as his relationship with the much-missed Kristen.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was the pork belly really that crispy?
I think the pork was fine. This is the recipe we used to use in Europe, my mom would put it in the oven and it’s super crunchy. The problem is you cruse around in a cruise ship, you go up and down, you wait an hour, it sits for an hour, for another hour. It might have been a little dry — might be a little dry.

Were you surprised when you got to judges’ table and they were split over it?
Yeah, maybe a little bit. Because when you’re there, it’s a different world, just completely consumed by running around, thinking of timing. It was hard for everybody — for Josh, for Lizzie, for Brooke, for everybody. It’s just a harder challenge, it’s on a boat, you don’t know where stuff is, you don’t know what to pick. It’s just what it is, man.

On the cruise ship cooking, how was the atmosphere different?
It’s pretty much the same as any other challenge. You’re in a beautiful kitchen. The only difference is all-electric stoves and ovens — in Europe, you’re all electric — so it wasn’t a big deal for me.

It’s the same kitchen as any other kitchen, it’s just on a huge boat. I’ve cooked at the Bellagio before — it’s a huge kitchen. There’s no difference. The only difference is you can’t go to the grocery store if you say, “I forgot bacon, let me go get some bacon.” You’re out of bacon, you’re out of bacon.

Watching Last Chance Kitchen, how did you take Tom’s comment about your being in the bottom, with the “bottom of the barrel” ingredients?
Everyone was in the bottom this season; everybody was in the bottom this time around. And I’d been there twice now, season five and season 10. And hey — things happen. Like my chicken cordon bleu: Was it the worst chicken cordon bleu in the world? No, it was great chicken cordon bleu. But fried chicken for me, I never did fried chicken before. If I would have made American fried chicken, then Tom would have said, “Hey, you should have made a chicken cordon bleu — it’s a European version if it.” So in the end it’s a great TV show, y’know, Tom is right sometimes and he is not.

You mentioned that you’re also really pleased with Brooke. So who is your ideal final two or final three, now that you’re stepping out of the kitchen?
Brooke is fantastic, and Brooke is a great chef. And Sheldon too — Sheldon is the calmest guy I’ve ever met in my entire life. He always makes fun of me for my OCD.

So what’s your relationship like with Kristen now, your “wifey”?
We always talk to each other, probably text every couple of days and say hello and see how it’s going. You know we’re both still kind of in it, or we were until yesterday. We’re both in it, somehow, and she’s a fantastic girl, obviously, great chef, beautiful, just fun to be around. We have some inside jokes, but you’ll probably hear about them in the reunion show.

Read more:
‘Top Chef’ recap: Iceberg (Lettuce), Straight Ahead!
‘Top Chef’ eliminated contestant talks strong audience reaction: ‘It’s wild, honestly’

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