Welcome to the fifth of hopefully 18 installments of a weekly series in which Eater catches up with Top Chef cheftestapant and No. 9 Park sous chef Stephanie Cmar. Check out Eater National's recap of the episode here. DVR users, major spoilers will be kept out of this paragraph, but anything after that point is free game. You've been warned. This week we talk about Glee, her thoughts on cooking for picky eaters, and whether her life is more reality show or sitcom.
Yesterday's quickfire had Gail and Padma's mothers as guest judges. Did you come from a cooking family?
No, not at all. They like to eat more than they like to cook. Maybe my grandmother, but even that was minimal.
Perhaps related, is Greg Cmar your dad? I've seen him tweeting about each of our talks.
Yeah! (laughs) He's so pumped about everything. Anything he reads, he tweets. [Fellow cheftesapant] Shirley and my father were tweeting to each other, and when Kristen was on last year they would tweet. He's adorable. It's really sweet to see how excited he is.
Speaking of excited, you seemed pretty excited to see Lea Michele as a guest judge, are you a Gleek?
No! They did make it look it really funny, though. I'm not the biggest Glee fan in the world. I like their stuff, but I don't watch it, really. But she was adorable. I thought it was funny the expressions they caught off of me.
Entertainment Weekly said, "the camera immediately closed in on Travis, the resident gay guy, for the biggest 'SQUEE!' reaction, even though Stephanie seemed to be gazing upon Lea most dreamily."
It really looks that way! I got home and watched that and was like, "Oh. Oh God. Oh no!" It was really funny.
So, she's not your new best friend?
Cheftestapants always get in trouble when they put something out the judge says they didn't want, and that happened again this week. Some chefs seem to thrive on having restrictions, but others really don't do well with them. How is it for you?
I'm impartial. If somebody wants something, the worst thing you can do is not give it to them. So I don't have any trouble staying in those lines like some chefs do. I kind of understand both sides. Chefs want to cook what they want to cook, and that's the bottom line. But I don't have a problem when people are more specific.
You and Carrie were paired together in the Halloween-themed elimination challenge. You seemed to work well together.
Yeah! She's awesome. We actually have really different personalities that were actually pretty complementary. I enjoyed working with her, it was the first time I had gotten to spend much time with her other than in the house. We had a good time coming up with ideas and both seemed to be on the same page.
To me, you guys had the most intricate plating; you involved vegetable ash. How much influence has No. 9 had on your plating?
Oh my God. So much. No. 9 is where I've really learned and re-learned just about everything. My plating style has definitely developed while there. Carrie and I got super into it when it came down to plating and how we could make it look spooky. The ash is a No. 9 thing. Carrie's chefs taught her that technique, but chefs Patrick [Campbell]and Scott [Jones]taught it to me, so I knew exactly what to do.
Even though you had relatively little screentime this week, AV Club said, "Stephanie is the best. Let's all be friends with her immediately. I saw a commenter say that you and Kristen should have a reality show. Another replied you guys should be on a sitcom. So, which is it?
I think my life's a fucking sitcom. That is so sweet. When Kristen and I moved to the South End together we would joke about writing a life blog, the shit that happened to us. So I think it would be a mix of both. I don't know; my life is funny and very strange.
It is Cocktail Week on Eater, and you just spent a lot of time in the country's original cocktail city. Did you get to experience it while in New Orleans?
I drank a few of the really famous ones. Like, what is it, the Sazerac? We drink that at Commander's and it was delicious. And strong.
Are there any places in Boston you like to go?
For cocktails? I'm not the biggest cocktail drinker. When I do go out for a drink, it's usually around work. We go to Silvertone, jm Curley, 21st Amendment. I live across the street from Bricco. They make some sort of cocktail with gin and white wine that is like lights out. It's killer. You drink two and you have to go home.
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