With one episode under your belt, did you find it was easier to watch the second episode?
No, it definitely was not easier to watch. It was just as gut-wrenching for me as it was for the first episode.
Did you have a strategy for the quickfire challenge?
No, not really. There wasn't much time to have a strategy; I was trying to pay to attention to my station and focus on what I was doing, and then I'd try and look for the light to go on. When I saw it go on, I just ran like hell.
What did you think of the ingredients you had?
I wasn't inspired by the first ingredient. I just grabbed something that was familiar, and I tried to do that with every ingredient that I grabbed. I mean, it was all familiar to me, but when you're picking from what's left, it gets tougher and tougher. I found that I got more inspired as things went on, and I was able to build flavors around that main protein.
What did you think about the team that you were assigned for the challenge?
At first I was really open-minded about it. I was just excited to work on a team, and I was really looking forward to working with the other chefs on the show and get to know them and see what everyone would bring to the table.
As chefs we have to pick and choose our battles.
Things seemed to go south fast. When did you see the dynamic of the group change?
It was pretty fast. When we grouped together to form a strategy and things started happening, I was just like, "Oh shit." When I watched the show last night, I didn't realize my facial expressions had said that much. I can keep things in pretty well and not say things, but not in my face, apparently! I just wanted to keep my mouth shut. I didn't really want to get involved; I didn't see a point in getting involved. I've worked with challenging people before. As chefs we have to pick and choose our battles, and I thought that getting involved would only hurt things further. I just kept hoping that they were going to be able to figure things out on their own. In the meantime, I just kept my head down, tried to stay out of it, and kept focusing on what I had to do. I just kept cooking.
What did you think of the basket that you received versus the other ones that other teams had?
We didn't get to see the other baskets that day because we were last to pick. Last night when I was watching the show and got to see all of the baskets for the first time, I felt like everyone else had really cool things and, well, we got stuck with chicken. But you always have to take the best or worst of any situation and make it the best.
Let's talk about the chicken. What a victory for you!
I just went into survival mode and tried my best to drown everything and everyone else out. It was tough because I knew the two other personalities were drowning our team. I knew I had to nail that chicken and make it perfect. I just went into total survival mode. The fact that the judges loved the chicken just validated for me that I did the right thing and handled things in the way that was right for me. I kept to myself and knew that it was a really bad vibe. Everyone else in the kitchen knew it was all happening, and staying out of it worked for me.
Competition brings out the truth in people.
There are a lot of strong personalities on the show. Do you think that the stronger personalities are more likely to get eliminated? Or do you think it's best to just sit back and let things play out?
I've always been of the mindset that it's best to just let things play out. I've always worked with strong personalities and I try to just do my own thing. People are who they are, and I think that everyone was very real and true during the challenges. I also think that people at home see it as a show, and it is, but we all [the chefs] seemed to forget that it was a show. For us it was a real competition, and competition brings out the truth in people. You can tell a lot about a person by how they act under pressure and react to different things and how they handle challenging situations.
Any other comments or thoughts from last night's show?
I survived another episode. It was sad to see Joy go. She is an amazing chef, and I know she'll do great no matter what.