Exclusive Interview: Zoi Antonitsas of 'Top Chef 4'
Exclusive Interview: Zoi Antonitsas of 'Top Chef 4'
This week's episode of Top Chef 4 had Zoi Antonitsas landing in the bottom of the competition for the third week in a row, and this time, her luck ran out. The judges found her under-seasoned mushrooms to be too big of a sin to overlook, and sent her home from the competition.

In an odd twist for a show like Top Chef, for Zoi, being sent home actually meant being separated from her partner, Jennifer Biesty, who remains in the game. We spoke with Zoi today about how the couple wound up on the show together, her perspective on the competition (and answers the debate about whether or not a partner was an advantage or disadvantage), and what got her into cooking in the first place.

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

Be forewarned before listening to the interview: Zoi does use some salty language (possibly to compensate for her not properly seasoning her dish?) in this interview. We've been seeing plenty of this from this crop of cheftestants on Top Chef 4, but unfortunately, we don't have Bravo's extensive bleeping budget.


Here are some highlights of the conversation with Zoi:

She's got a lot to say about her childhood roots in cooking, but if you just can't wait to hear about her time with Top Chef 4, we get into that about a quarter of the way into the interview (about eight minutes in), so you can skip ahead to that first if you're the impatient sort. (Although moms with picky eater kids might especially want to hear about her early cooking life as it sounds like her culinary upbringing has some clues about how to get kids to be more open minded in their dietary preferences.)

I get the scoop on how she and her partner wound up on the show together. She says that she and Jen applied separately, and got all the way to the interview stage before their status as a couple became known to the producers. Once it was on the table, she and Jen thought the most likely scenario was that the producers were trying to decide between the two, and they were surprised that they both were selected.

She says that people who think having a partner there is an advantage are right…but so are people who think it's a disadvantage! She says that it was great to have someone there who was on her side, with whom she could hold hands in moments of tension or stress. Seeing how much the other chefs really missed their families drove home how lucky the two were to have each other there. But, she says, it was also a distraction at times, and it also required that the two put their relationship into the public eye. So there were both pros and cons to their unique situation.

Of the two, though, Zoi might have been the slightly more reluctant to enter into the competition. She seems to still feel ambivalently towards the idea of competing in the world of food, something she associates more with hospitality and creating pleasure. She also wonders if her kind of slow food with classic influences (which is not, as she puts it, “fusion confusion”) is what the judges are looking for in this competition.

I also asked her for some background on her criticism on Richard's dish from the dinner and a movie challenge – which she admits she never tried.

How will Jen fare in the competition without her partner, Zoi? We'll see her first episode solo next week.

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Image courtesy of Bravo)