Last night on Top Chef 4, New Zealander cheftestant Mark Simmons was eliminated for his vegetarian curry. And the didgeridoo became a didgerdon’t. (Sorry, I am physically incapable of not typing that stupid joke, it’s like my fingers were possessed.)
Normally on Thursdays we present the audio interviews from the eliminated Top Chefs, but unfortunately due to some technical difficulties, while we spoke with Mark today, we aren’t going to be able to provide the audio file. This is a shame because a) who doesn’t love listening to a New Zealand accent and b) he’s pretty much as adorably humorous over the phone as he was on Top Chef.
Here are the highlights, though, of our conversation with Mark, including a very exciting recent personal development for the chef, as well as a little insight into that exchange with Tom Colicchio.
Like many eliminated chefs this season, he says his elimination seemed completely out of the blue. He thinks that all of the bottom three dishes had flaws, but while Stephanie Izard and Lisa Fernandes probably happily put their dishes behind them, he actually liked his so much he still makes it.
I had a suspicion that the “Tom doesn’t like me” exchange was more of a joke than it was edited to appear, and Mark said that yes, this was just his deadpan humor. He said the judging table usually included more banter than we see at home, and this little exchange was just more lighthearted than it might have seemed.
Mark thinks, like nearly everybody else, that Dale Talde and Richard Blais are two strong contenders. He thinks Stephanie has done some great things but she’s also faltered. (Aside: I am starting to get veeeerrrreeee suspicious about how obvious Dale and Richard’s success seems to be. There has to be a big twist coming!)
While Mark really seemed hopeful that a Top Chef win could help him with his dream of opening a restaurant, he’s not letting his elimination affect his long-term goal. Right now, he’s working with his current restaurant, Public, on the opening of their new outpost. Right now the name and menu are very hush-hush, he says, but New York area fans should keep an eye out.
One day he wants to open his own place, though, and he would like to serve New Zealand fare, capitalizing on the “pure and pristine ingredients” of his home land. One New Zealand ingredient a home chef could try out is manuka honey. This is a special honey that comes from bees that manuka and jelly bushes in Australia and New Zealand. Actually, you don’t even really have to be a chef to try it; Mark says it’s great just spread on toast. It’s also got purported to have medical benefits, so you can also “spread it on your body.”
He noted he might need to do this himself after his upcoming trip to the Greek Islands, since, as he said when I told him to relax and get a tan, he noted in his dry way it’s more likely he’ll get “cancerous moles.” But his trip has special significance: it’s his honeymoon!
He just got married this past Friday, “OMG, right?!” he said. He seems very happy and excited, and noted that his pal Andrew D’Ambrosi attended the wedding – although he also noted that this might not thrill the Bravo publicist.
So again, New York Top Chef fans be on the lookout for the new Public restaurant outpost opening, and maybe catch newlywed Mark there.
– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of Bravo)