I can admit when I am wrong, and I was wrong about last night's eliminated Top Chef
contestant Andrew D'Ambrosi
on two counts. For one, when I made my initial rankings for the season, I did not think he would go very far based on his bio, which seemed much lighter in serious fine dining experience than some of the others. For another, based on the first few bits of interviews I saw this season, I at first thought he was a hipster doofus who was simply posturing with all of his big talking.
Some might still feel that way, but for me, as we got to know him more during the season, it seemed to become clear that he wasn't really posturing; this was his real deal personality. And he also brought some good skills to the competition, and despite his big talk, seemed humble enough to put his head down and get to work when he was in team challenges. So by the time he was eliminated, I was thoroughly over on Team Andrew and was bummed that it was his time to go. He took some time to speak with us today and give us his take on his time on the show.
Andrew has gone back to work since the show, and in fact I caught him in a few moments of downtime before he started his day at his new gig at Le Cirque, one of the most well-respected restaurants in New York City. He said he took the position because he realized through the competition that he needed to deepen his experience at this kind of fine dining restaurant.
He still maintains that his faux sushi dish is delicious, and sasses a bit that the judges just aren't used to eating nutritious food. He's not necessarily looking to go whole hog into the world of healthy eating – he says whatever he does, he wants to please the diner – but he does think there's a place for more healthful food even within the fine dining world.
He says Sam Talbot was wearing shoulder pads.
Some folks might wonder how he manages to stay on top of everything in the kitchen when he twice in the competition seemed to either ADHD or just space-cadet the rules of the challenge right out of his head (he was disqualified from the Farmers Market challenge for forgetting about the ingredient limitations as well as not having an actual whole grain in this most recent challenge). He points out you don't get a job at Le Cirque if you are a flake, and that his forgetfulness was mainly due to the rigors of competition.
Even though Lisa Fernandes's tacky move still seems to rankle him a little, and even though he concedes he found working with Richard Blais's strong personality a little irritating, he has good words for everyone on the show and seems to have found the whole experience a life-changing one.
He remains friends with Spike Mendelsohn and Mark Simmons, and yes, their band Mise en Place (MEP) has plans for a World Tour. They will, he says, be bigger than Top Chef. They will be the Wu-Tang of the culinary world, and Andrew notes he is the Old Dirty Bastard of the group, which is pretty genius.
And of course, he couldn't resist getting one last self-aggrandizing shout-out in there, saying they should change the name of Top Chef to "Suckfest 2008" since he's no longer on the show. I could really interview people like Andrew all day long.
So if you are in New York and have some cash to drop, look for Andrew at Le Cirque. Otherwise, surely we will all hear plans for the Mise en Place World Tour any day now.
-Interview conducted by Leslie Seaton
(Image courtesy of Bravo)