On Wednesday night Fenway Park executive chef and Casablanca and Oleana alum Steve "Nookie" Postal ended his run on Bravo's first season of the show Around the World in 80 Plates. Nookie was one of three finalists but in the end he was axed by the contestant he had most closely allied with throughout the season, thereby losing his shot at winning a bunch of money and a car. Traveling around the world while cooking under bizarre conditions was an even more intense experience for Nookie than for most. Earlier this week, he told The Dish that he very nearly died as soon as it was all over. Eater spoke with Nookie about whether the show was to blame, his interest in competing on Top Chef, and his big plans to open a restaurant in Kendall Square.
So that sucks. You know it's tough, because I've already gone through it and dealt with it and now I'm losing all over again.
When did the last episode actually happen? We finished shooting in the middle of November.
As a viewer, I know I'm only getting part of the story, and I'm so curious about how things really played out. There's a lot of creative editing and the way they piece everything together, but it's Bravo, and when I went on it I knew it was Bravo. I didn't go on PBS, I went on Bravo. It was expected.
Do you feel like it was an accurate portrayal of yourself? Did you watch it and think "that's me?" Overall I thought it was a pretty good portrayal. It's kind of who I am, and people all around me are like, "well, you know you kind of are an asshole." And I guess I can be. A lot of it's done in humor and some of that gets lost in the editing, but overall I was happy with it. [People say] it's funny because they have you being really smart - you're not that smart - but I'll take it.
When you watched it, was it like when people watch horror movies and say "don't go in there!" In the first episode I know I really screwed up that steak-and-kidney pie, and then the watering down of the drinks and the Nonna, those were the few things I was concerned about watching. And obviously getting booted in the end.
Those things aside, anything you wish you'd done differently? At the end I was so tired and just didn't foresee what was coming. I would have done things differently. That last dish was terrible, it truly was. I don't even know what I was thinking. I was so jet lagged and tired. The show literally almost killed me. Basically in Argentina a little bit and in Uruguay and when I got home I wasn't feeling well, and when I went to the doctor, he was like you need to go to the hospital now. And I was like, really? Like now? And he said either you go now or I put you in an ambulance. And I was like, I think you're being a liiiitttle bit dramatic. So I went to lunch, and then I went to the hospital, and I collapsed outside, and it turned out that I had a massive pulmonary embolism. Huge blood clot. Cardiologist said it wasn't the largest he'd ever seen, but the largest of anyone who was still alive. They think it happened when I was on the flight from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires, 34 hours. And I have a hereditary predisposition to it, and I think the long flight combined with the hereditary piece did it.
They push you past your limits and pack in the tension. You had this serious health situation that seems like it may have been related to the experience - do you feel like there's a connection? I don't blame them for it at all. I could have got it if I went to Thailand on vacation. My dad died from it when I was 15, and he was 48. I'm only 37, but I don't blame them. They certainly were crazy on us. We literally had no idea what we were going to do at any moment. When we would go somewhere, if I saw the camera guys stretching, I'd be like, oh god. I'd tighten my sneakers.
How's life changed since the show? A lot of people recognize me on the street. A lot of people love me and a lot of people hate me. A lot of people really liked watching me whether they were rooting for me or rooting against me. They make me laugh: I get tweets like "you're such a fat fuck, you suck!" And I'm like, thank you very much folks, have a wonderful day!
If you'd won, how would life be different now? Well I'd have $150,000 and a brand new Luxury JX Crossover. A hundred and fifty thousand dollars isn't life changing, though it would certainly help me with my ventures that are upcoming. And I'm having a third kid, so the third row of the Infiniti would have been really nice - that's what my wife really wanted. I've said it all along, but really what happens on the show is what you make of it after. It's a launching pad, a springboard for you, and you look at a lot of people that go on reality shows and a lot of them rest on their laurels and do nothing, and they fall back to earth and they fall pretty hard. And I think it's important now to work harder than I ever have before - now's the time that maybe some doors have been opened for me and I need to push harder than I ever have before.
Upcoming ventures, doors may have been opened - anything you can add about that? There's some definite upcoming ventures that are going to be really cool. It's no secret that I've been working on opening my own place for a couple years now, in Cambridge. And I've been working on a very exciting space in Kendall Square, and it's going to be pretty big and pretty awesome. I'm really excited for it, it's been a long time coming.
Would you do it again? I'd consider it. I would definitely do something else. It was fun. They said would you be interested in Top Chef, and I think that would be something I would be interested in, because this show wasn't a cooking show, and I got a lot of crap from a lot of people about it, but it's not a cooking show, I was just going by the rules here. It would be cool to go on a cooking show and really show people what I could do instead of playing these mind games and trying to wiggle and all that crap. To show people I'm not just a guy from a ballpark, I do have a good background and I do know how to cook.
More cooking, less jogging? Yeah. Please. The jogging is terrible. We had no idea what we were getting into.
· Exclusive: Steve 'Nookie' Postal almost died after '80 Plates' journey [Bravo]
· All coverage of Nookie on Eater [~EBOS~]