Immediately following the penultimate episode of Top Chef, we instant-messaged with Jimmy Bradley, the chef and restaurateur behind the Red Cat, the Mermaid Inn, and the Harrison, and the co-author of The Red Cat Cookbook. Last year's winner, Harold Dieterle, was a sous-chef at the Harrison, so we thought Jimmy might have an interesting angle on the battle between Ilan, Sam, Elia, and the much-maligned Marcel.
Ozersky: Were you glad that Ilan and Marcel won?
Bradley: I’m not so sure about Marcel.
Ozersky: Too much pointy hair?
Ozersky: Or is it the molecular gastronomy?
Bradley: I don’t think anyone should ever have a digital scale in their kitchen.
Ozersky: They all really seem to hate him, of course. Does that happen sometimes, that there’s a guy in a kitchen everybody loathes?
Bradley: The fact that he was aloof and thought that he was superior didn’t bode so well for him.
Bradley: But his flavors were solid enough to get him here.
Ozersky: I actually really like him. He has a kind of cartoon appearance, like the mascot of Big Boy. And I can’t stand that snide, smarmy Ilan. He's so oily. But I could see where that kind of dissension in the kitchen could cause problems.
Bradley: It’s bound to happen in a kitchen environment, but I’m not a big fan of it. There's no “I” in team.
Bradley: He is a smarmy little fellow.
Bradley: But no bones about it, Ilan made good food.
Ozersky: Harold Dieterle, last year's winner, was a former cook of yours.
Bradley: I’m not surprised he went the distance. The person that most resembled Harold tonight, I think, was Sam.
Ozersky: I was shocked that he got knocked out. Although I did appreciate the Tom-ism about nothing being cooked.
Ozersky: What do you think was Harold-like about Sam?
Bradley: They appear to share a common approach. They're young and brash and ready to back it up.
Ozersky: How much does this kind of competition reflect what you need from a good cook in a real kitchen?
Bradley: Not so much because the challenges are quite different. Either you have the fundamentals or you don't. Professional kitchens expect a lot of excellence and repetition. And that’s quite different from Bravo's challenges.
Bradley: Although many breakthroughs occur when you least expect them …
Ozersky: Would you hire any of these guys to run a kitchen in one of your restaurants?
Bradley: With the exception of Harold, who I’d love to have back in the family, I would have to see more of each of them before we could talk about leading a kitchen.
Ozersky: But just from what we saw tonight, gun to your head, which one would you hire?
Bradley: Gun or no gun, I’d give Sam a chance.
Bradley: But let’s get off this topic 'cause I'm not hiring.
Ozersky: Ilan or Marcel, who’s your money on?
Bradley: Because I'm a little more old-school, I'd like to see Ilan get it because he doesn't rely on science to coax the flavors from his dishes.
Bradley: But I still say what Ilan did at the end of the show was … smarmy.
Ozersky: So who will win?
Bradley: I only bet on myself and the ponies, but I think Ilan is the next Top Chef.
Related: New York Diet: Sam Talbot (Formerly) of ‘Top Chef’ Splurges at Nobu [Grub Street]
So Hot She’s Flammable: Host roasted by top chefs. [Intel]
‘Top Chef’'s Marcel Doesn't Love Joël Robuchon That Much [Daily Intel]