Back of the House

‘Top Chef’ Contestant Wishes She Could Have Gone It Alone

Zoi was doomed by team challenges and rosemary.
Zoi was doomed by team challenges and rosemary.

Last night, on Top Chef, Zoi Antonitsas packed her knives and left, a victim of her underseasoned carpaccio. Despite being up against a team that served fish with scales, Zoi’s squad somehow took the blow, and she was chosen as the culprit. Our Michael Alan Connelly asked Zoi how it all turned out and what effect her defenestration may have had on her life.

What have you been up to since you left the show?
Well, my life has changed quite a bit. I came back and didn’t go back to the restaurant I had left for the show. It was a personal choice and it was mutual. The show really makes you think a lot about your life, priorities, who you are as a person and a chef. I really started to look at that more closely, and it just didn’t make sense for me to go back to that restaurant. So I’ve been doing consulting here and there.

Do you think there were too many team challenges on the show?
Yes, I do. Absolutely. That was one of my biggest pet peeves about being on the show. It was team challenge after team challenge after team challenge. Understandably, this is a team sport. Food and cooking is not something we do by ourselves. But this competition is not about the best team; it’s about the best chef. And that’s what you get a lot of criticism for: “You didn’t stand out. You didn’t make yourself heard.” But there’s a fine line between being an asshole and saying what you think and having a point of view.

Why were you sent home instead of Spike?
[Pause] Honestly, I don’t know. Honestly, I really think that it’s a bigger error to serve 80 dishes that have scales on them than to serve 80 dishes that are slightly underseasoned. [Ed: Actually, it was Richard, on the water team, that served the fish.] In the restaurant world, that would have been a bigger error. I think that they feel like his screaming was more of an illustration of his strength as a chef. I don’t know. I’m not a screamer.

Spike’s screaming?
You know, his dramatics, his antics. Maybe my “character” was not entertaining enough. I guess they decided our dish was the worst dish, and it was my fault for some reason. It was my concept to do the carpaccio. Spike and I had originally wanted to do the soup, and Antonia was uncomfortable with that. A little more vinegar and maybe we would have won. That’s the sad thing.

Were there any complications with competing alongside your girlfriend? [Ed: Zoi and Jen, another cheftestant, are dating.] We were very supportive of each other, before, during, and after. It was a blessing and a curse. We were both incredibly happy to have each other there, and we both felt that it was very difficult emotionally for us. Not only was my self, my personality, my style, my person being judged and being watched, but Jen’s and my relationship was out there. Our relationship is out there in the universe now being looked at, being talked about, being judged. It’s very difficult. It’s not something I would wish upon anyone.

‘Top Chef’ Contestant Wishes She Could Have Gone It Alone