Back of the House

‘Top Chef’ Reject Won’t Abandon His Roots

Chef Ryan Scott worships at the altar of Alice Waters.
Chef Ryan Scott worships at the altar of Alice Waters.

Last night on Top Chef, the remaining cheftestants prepared a tailgate party for discerning Bears fans. One man tried his own native cuisine, but the judges scoffed. After the jump, our Michael Alan Connelly interviews the latest chef to pack his knives and go.

What are you working on now?
My consulting company, Ryan Scott To Go, is up on its feet, and it should be active in the next three weeks or so. I’ve been looking and pursuing locations in San Francisco to open my own place.

What kind of restaurant would it be?
It’ll be sleek and simple, like sandwiches, burgers, and salads, organic drinks and so on. On the other hand, I would love to do something like Prune. That’s kind of the way I cook. Simple, straightforward — three, four, five ingredients on the plate. I have a great mixologist who wants to do sustainable organic drinks.

After the fight shown at the end of last week’s episode, did tension among the chefs increase?
There was definitely tension around, but there’s bound to be. You’re putting ten people who don’t live together in a house and give them booze, and there’s your product.

Did the experience change your cooking?
I definitely have respect for peeling an onion again. When you work in a kitchen and you run the whole thing, having onions and garlic peeled is something you get used to. You’d be amazed how long it takes to make a burger when you have to do all the mise en place yourself.

Which cheftestants do you like?
Stef and Rich. Stef as a person, I adore. She’s an all-around great cook. Rich is breaking culinary boundaries. One night he said to me, “I respect so much what you do, Ryan. You can cook with two or three ingredients, and look at a fennel bulb and it’s just fennel. I’d try and figure out how to levitate the thing. I can’t cook on your level.” I said, “Well, Rich, I can’t turn around and use transglutamine in any of my cooking.”

Throughout the season you’ve been loyal to your California cuisine. Was that disadvantageous?
I’m a California boy. I live in the greatest city in the world, San Francisco, and that’s what I cook. The simpler the better is my philosophy, and that didn’t fly.

Do you regret what you did?
I was always me. I should have done a burger; that’s my only regret. But I still stand by what I did. My food was tasty, and it was good. I went a little too large, and it happens.

‘Top Chef’ Reject Won’t Abandon His Roots