The premiere of Top Chef’s sixth season is less than a week away, which means it’s time to kick into full obsession mode. The first step, naturally, is to touch base with all of our local contestants. Today and tomorrow we’ll be bringing you interviews with the three San Franciscans who were transplanted to Las Vegas for the show, which premieres August 19, at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
Iluna Basque chef/owner Mattin Noblia grew up and trained in the Basque region of Southern France, picking up both French and Spanish influences that he channels into his cooking today. No stranger to Las Vegas, the 29-year-old former model told us he enjoyed shooting there, but didn’t get to play very much. No matter; he said gets over there fairly frequently to check out Hubert Keller’s DJ sets. Do these people ever work? Apparently he does something because we barely managed to catch up with Noblia on the phone between meetings today. Check out what he has to say about modeling, topless parties, video games, and a possible new restaurant in San Francisco.
What did you do in Vegas aside from cook and film?
We were always working. But when I go on vacation I go out… Pool parties, topless parties… That’s what you do in Vegas. But what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?
What was your favorite restaurant there?
My favorite is Michael Mina’s steakhouse (Stripsteak). They have a really good cocktail list. But I didn’t get to try all the restaurants… I went to the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. It was really good French cuisine.
I understand you’ve worked as a model. How do you incorporate your interest in modeling and fashion into your career as a chef?
I’ve done some professional modeling work but that was a couple years ago. I got out of it because they asked too much of my time and it’s not really worth it… Now I’m the photographer, at least for my restaurant. After doing the modeling I’ve learned a lot about how to look in the camera and create pictures.
You mentioned a potential business opportunity in Santa Cruz on Twitter. What’s that about?
It was for another business—video games not restaurants. I have a second business next door doing video games (Star Games). I’m just an investor. I don’t know anything about video games… We wanted to expand it—open a second location.
What other business moves have you got in the works?
I might open another restaurant in San Francisco, but that’s really up in the air. I’m meeting with a person who has the location already and he wants me to do the menus for that… Basically I’ll be the chef there. I don’t know the location yet.
What’s the most memorable meal you’ve had in the last month?
I went to France recently an din the Basque country between San Sebastian and Bilbao called Etxebarri They do everything on the grill. I had things I’d never tried before like goose barnacles. I’ve never seen those in America. They have them a lot—they’re popular in Spain in the Basque country.
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