It seems like every season of Top Chef has to have at least one chef whose attitude really rubs the audience the wrong way. Season 1 had Tiffani Faison, Season 2 had Marcel Vigneron, and Season 3 had Hung Huynh. This season had a few different contestants who seemed to get on the audience’s bad side. Nikki Cascone stuck around after many felt she should have left and Dale Talde’s explosive reaction to losing irritated many. But once they were sent home, many viewers seemed to focus their displeasure on Lisa Fernandes.
Lisa had a knockout dish with her miso-glazed bacon during the Elements challenge, but towards the end of the season, she seemed to have an ongoing series of difficulties, and landed in the bottom for six of the elimination challenges prior to the final episode. She redeemed herself, though, to some extent, with her very strong performance in the final challenge, producing an Asian-inspired soup and dessert that seriously impressed the judges. Despite this, it wasn’t enough to help her come from behind to win the season of Top Chef. She’s back in New York, and took some time to talk with us about her experience on Top Chef. Read on for the highlights and audio of the interview.
Lisa says that some of her grumpier moments on the show, or times when she didn’t perform to the level she ultimately did in the finale, were just a function of dealing with the rigors of the competition: lack of sleep, nicotine withdrawal, etc. She says she got into the zone during the finale and thinks her strong performance was related to being in a good and positive mood during that process.
Lisa has said elsewhere that she avoids reading the more vitriolic commentary out on the web, but admits that some of the personal attacks are disheartening. She says people are friendlier in person, and that she thinks people who have a negative opinion of her might feel differently if they got to hang out with her and see the unedited Lisa.
She says that she’s on good terms with the chefs from the season – Dale and Andrew D’Ambrosi included – and that Richard Blais had just sent her pictures of his newborn that morning.
She’s working at Spike Mendelsohn’s old restaurant, Mai House, in New York, so if you thought Lisa’s food looked good or you want the chance to see what Lisa is like outside the pressure of the competition, check her out there.
– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of Bravo)