Ejected ‘Top Chef:’ ‘That Wasn’t Even My Idea!’

Valerie Bolon

That's not my blini recipe, says Valerie Bolon.Courtesy of Bravo

After a troublesome catering gig at the zoo, Chicago native Valerie Bolon got the boot on last nights episode of Top Chef. But were her blinis really as bad as Nikkis excremental mushrooms? Adam Platt didnt think so, and neither, Valerie says, did her fellow cheftestants: We all kind of felt like it was supposed to be Nikki. New Yorks Michael Alan Connelly (who agrees with that sentiment) spoke to Bolon today and learned the secrets of the soggy blinis and the feeling of injustice that comes with leaving Top Chef.

You seemed unhappy when Antonia said she hypothetically would hire Stephanie over you based on your dishes, even though she hadnt tasted yours.
It was completely unfair. At the event, one of the first things she said to me when our time was over was, I didnt get a chance to taste your dish. She literally said those words. I think she just got along with Stephanie better. It was a personal thing. She liked Stephanie better, so she said she would have picked her dish. I was definitely not happy about that at all.

Why did you make the blinis in advance?
That wasnt even my idea, initially. It was Antonias. And it was her recipe, in fact. She said, Ive got this great recipe for these blinis. I felt like I got thrown under the bus for it.

So it was a team decision?
Not at one point did we stop and say, Wait, maybe this isnt such a good idea. Wait, what are we doing? Maybe this isnt going to hold up. Watching the show last night, I felt like, maybe [Antonia] did that on purpose. But then again, I should have realized that that wasnt such a good idea.

How was Wylie Dufresne as a guest judge?
Hes very mild-mannered and quiet. It was even hard for him as we were filming to say anything negative about anybody. You could tell, he was just really, really cool.

Youve worked most recently as a personal chef, not a restaurant chef. Is that disadvantageous on the show?
Its only been in the last year that Ive been doing this personal-chef work. My experience has been in restaurants for basically my entire career. It helped me with my timing, and it helped me stay focused under pressure, because thats what it is when you work in restaurants.

The editing on Top Chef makes Andrew seem hyper and tweaked out. Is that the case?
Yes. Times ten.

Was that intolerable or amusing?
Hes actually a very nice guy, but then again, I wasnt there for that long, so I dont know if that would have started to drive me a little bit crazy.

Do you keep in touch with your fellow cheftestants?
When youre in a situation like that where youre living with these people, and youre with them 24/7, and youre in a house sequestered from the world and youre going through the same experience obviously you bond with them in a certain way.

Who are you rooting for?
I hope Steph does it. I want her to win and to represent Chicago, be the first female Top Chef.

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