Back of the House

Red Cat Owner Betting on Ilan to Win ‘Top Chef’

Hate all you want: Ilan Hall.Photo courtesy Bravo
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.

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So Hot She’s Flammable: Host roasted by top chefs. [Intel]

‘Top Chef’’s Marcel Doesn’t Love Joël Robuchon That Much [Daily Intel]

Red Cat Owner Betting on Ilan to Win ‘Top Chef’