Last night on Survivor: Samoa, Mike Borassi, the 62-year-old personal chef from Marina del Ray, California, was evacuated from the game. After trying hard to prove himself in the Schmergenbrawl challenge he collapsed twice from the exhaustion and dehydration. Mike had originally been chosen to compete on Survivor: Tocantins but had been removed hours before the game for medical reasons. Mike has since reported that he was fine an hour later, but not until after he had been removed from the game.
When I talked with Mike earlier today he told me about his culinary training, how his football training prepared him for the Schmergenbrawl, what inspired him to grow a pointy beard, why he really voted off Marisa and whether he would have preferred to compete in Tocantins.
I know you were originally supposed to be on Tocantins before getting pulled just prior to the game. In hindsight, which season would you have rather been on and why?
Tocantins. I don`t think the challenges were as hard as ours were. They had food and h2o right off the bat. We had to struggle from the get go and really survive.
You talked in one of the deleted scenes about training under “mean, heroin addicted, violent French chefs.” Have you seen reality shows like Hell’s Kitchen and The Chopping Block? How do they compare to your experience?
Compared to my apprenticeship with these nuts, those shows would have been a cake walk. I worked only 12- 14 hours a day. [The French chefs] knew how to party hard but they were mean drunks on top of it. So I laugh at these reality cooking shows. I learned the hard way like everything else in my life.
You were a football coach at Boston University, and you certainly took some people down in the challenge. Did you remember much from those days that was helpful?
Football was a big part of my life from 12 years old on. I loved the game and loved to hit, a crucial requirement to play good. So when this game came up I felt like I was 20 again and I showed those young guys I still had it. If you have heart it never goes away. Between rounds , Russell S. looked at me and said “you`re tough for an old guy.” Eric also said he was honored to play head to head with me, which I appreciated. We gave it our all.
You lost 40 pounds before coming on the show. That’s amazing for a 62 year old guy! How did you do it?
Well I was considering gaining 50 more pounds and going on The”Biggest Loser but I couldn`t go on TV with man breasts and tons of back fat. I owe it all to my personal trainer, Eric Redd of the Evolution 180 gym in Playa del Rey, California. He drove me into the ground five times a week, changed my eating habits and nutrition, gave me the confidence and courage to do this and changed my life. We are still training. I`ve lost 20 more lbs and will look even better for the finale. I plan to write about my journey and give inspiration to others.
What was your take on Marisa? Would she have been your real preference to go the first week, or were you just voting with the group?
It was a total emotional move. Russell came to me and said Marisa was plotting to get me out and I panicked. I really liked Marisa, great girl, strong willed, hard worker, not bad to look at. She would have been a real threat if she stayed and a force to be reckoned with. I felt bad when she was gone but like I said at Tribal Council ” it`s a dog eat dog game and we`re all wearing Milk Bone underwear.”
Ben and Russell are both villains this season. Who do you think is worse?
Russell is pure evil as Probst said. But he was outwitting people left and right. Ben is a great kid who just loves to put his foot in his mouth.
How long have you been sporting the Captain Lou Albano beard? What inspired it?
I saw a weird movie with Clive Owen about King Arthur and all the characters had these weird facial do’s, so I picked one and grew it. I can only do so much with my look so I went for it. I`ll probably shave it after the finale and make my wife happy.
-Henry Jenkins, Guest Columnist
(Image courtesy of CBS)