Preeti Mistry came to Top Chef from the kitchen of Acme Chophouse — one of a string of gigs she’s had with Bon Appetit Management Company. The 33-year-old Londoner lives in San Francisco, where she’s put in time cooking at the De Young museum, the Legion of Honor, and most recently at the helm of the much-buzzed kitchen at Google. A veteran of the Sugar Club and Moro in London and former head of her own catering business, she says she likes the Google kitchen best of all and plans to stick around. We caught up with Mistry to ask about corporate cooking, goofing off on the set, and that oh-so-recognizable Top Chef hairstyle.
How did you like Vegas?
I like casinos and shopping but only in small doses. Vegas is 24-seven, and that can kind of get on my nerves.
You’ve worked at big institutions for a large part of your career. How have you found corporate food service different than working in a restaurant? How did that experience affect your performance on Top Chef?
Running a large operation requires a lot of organization and leadership. One needs to be realistic about what is possible when you have a short amount of time and less resources. I think that knowing what makes great food but having to do that on a large scale gives you the understanding of certain constraints that definitely inform what dishes you decide to pull off in a short amount of time.
You’ve been described as “the life of the party.” How true is that? How did you get along with your co-contestants on Top Chef?
I do love people and having a great time with friends. I’m generally loud and sometimes tend to dominate conversation, always wanting to entertain everyone. All the co-contestants are awesome and we all have a ton of respect for each other. I got along quite well with everyone and we did have a good time… mostly a lot of laughs… everyone was so funny. We were always cracking each other up.
What is your favorite restaurant in San Francisco?
There are so many restaurants that I love in my city, but Zuni Cafe is pretty much my fave for it all… great food, service, vibe… make Zuni the best.
What’s the most memorable thing you’ve eaten in the last month?
Sea Urchin and Crab at Anchor & Hope was a revelation. And the Fatted Calf hot dog at Acme Chophouse was a huge “wow” of what a hot dog could be.
You know the blogs are going to go nuts for your faux-hawk. Was that hairstyle on purpose?
I’ve had this haircut for almost five years, which means I probably need to change it soon. But that being said, it was nothing that had to do with being on the show.
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