Exclusive Interview: Erik Hopfinger of 'Top Chef 4'
Exclusive Interview: Erik Hopfinger of 'Top Chef 4'
Last night, Top Chef 4 cheftestants Erik Hopfinger was eliminated from the competition, ostensibly due to the soggy corndogs that he served at the block party Elimination Challenge.

The big guy – who appeared to take on the affectionate nickname “Papa Soufflé” by his fellow cheftestants – headed back from the show to his role as Executive Chef at Circa in San Francisco, but did take a few minutes out to chat with BuddyTV about his experience on Top Chef 4.

Read on for the highlights and the full mp3 of the interview.

Here are some highlights from the audio interview.

He says the chefs were all still getting along well by the time he left the competition, and that he was impressed by the level of talent, especially Richard, whom he calls “a cool cat” and whose sous vide technique inspired Erik to get one for himself when he returned home.

His elimination does still seem to sting, and I can't say I blame him. I had thought it was confusing that his dish was deemed the worst for its sogginess when Zoi's appeared to be lacking in both flavor and concept. I thought maybe we missed some details in the edit, but Erik says it's still a bit of a mystery to him why this was enough to send him home as he thought the corndogs were still tasty despite the texture problem.

He does concede, though, that he was falling short in his presentation during the early challenges as he got his bearings in the competition.

He's got another endeavor lined up in addition to his chef duties: he'll be putting out a line of chef's coats with designs contributed by tattoo artists. He's launched a website – thepiratechef.com – from which the chef's coats will be available.

He says his Top Chef 4 locker had some tasty special ingredients, like white truffles and truffle oil, and pomegranate molasses, an Middle Eastern ingredient he loves and recommends that home chefs give a shot as a tasty sauce for lamb.

All in all, Erik might look like a tough guy, but he comes across as a nice and mellow dude, so if you're in San Francisco, check out his restaurant to see what he can do in his own element!

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Image courtesy of Bravo)