For some Top Chef 5 viewers, Stefan Richter was the prototypical reality contestant they loved to hate. To them, his cockiness seemed abrasive and off-putting. To other viewers, like this one, his relentlessly cheerful arrogance was sort of endearing, especially since it seemed to be paired with some genuine affection for his competitors (you know, when he wasn’t blustering about how much better he is than they are).
We talked with Stefan today about his experience on the show, what he thought about losing, the very special offer he has for Jamie Lauren, and how he feels about some of his harshest critics: bloggers.
As you might imagine, Stefan isn’t backing down from what he said in his exit interview, that not winning was a relief. He is happy to be in the company of fellow runner-up Richard Blais, who is his favorite previous Top Chef contestant.
He also repeated the slightly cryptic assertion that the “winner gets a $100,000 egg, while the runner-up is the chicken who lays the egg.” It was hard to get a clarification on what this meant, mainly because it’s a little challenging to keep Stefan on topic. He tends to veer back to his favorite topic: Declarative Statements about What Stefan is Like. Which, again, I found myself surprised to find rather adorable instead of grating.
Looking back at the competition, he still says his gumbo in the first part of the finale was better than Hosea’s, and admits he would consider doing something differently if he did it all again. He said the plates they were using were only four inches across, which created issues with his presentation. If he could do it over again, he think he might do a savory dish for the third course, like winner Hosea Rosenberg, but then still throw in an extra sweet “just for the f*** of it.”
Despite all the trash-talking, he’s willing to give Hosea his due, saying that he deserved the win. He didn’t hold any hard feelings about any finale shenanigans, saying he’d forgotten about the foie gras incident until watching the final episode.
He says they are all friends and that he makes an effort to keep in touch with everyone. Although he seemed to be the quintessential “I’m not here to make friends” player, he says that he’s too old to carry on the arguments in the kitchen, and he really did want to come away friends with the others.
He admits that he can be a “softie” and that Carla Hall’s emotional breakdown in the final judging was hard for him to watch. He said, “I can’t see women cry. I can’t have it.” He said watching the episode, he got tears again. He also said it was partially his affection for Carla, whom he calls a “sweet, funny, nice woman” who did “good food” that caused him to pick Marcel Vigneron in the final challenge, knowing that his “type-A” personality would be better suited to work with Marcel. He said, “He is an ass, I am an ass.”
As to some of the other contestants, he says he still thinks Jamie Lauren is great, saying his pursuit of a lesbian “wouldn’t be the first time,” and that when she is “ready for babies,” he is ready for duty, noting they’d have good-looking children. He said it was her smile and laugh that really got to him, recommending we re-watch the first episode for some good examples of this.
But he makes sure to note she wasn’t the only foxy lady he appreciated, saying that Leah Cohen also had a good laugh.
He also doesn’t hold anything against fellow Euro-duo member Fabio Viviani for going for Hosea in the finale, saying that with Europeans, you get honesty. “You gotta be honest, otherwise you look like an idiot. I love honesty.”
Since he likes honesty, it’s probably no surprise that he likes reading about himself online, even the critical bloggers. He said that he love bloggers, to which I replied he is probably the first reality contestant to ever utter those particular words in that particular order. He also notes that according to the blogs, he won!
As to what’s next, it’s catering, clothing and cookbooks. He said he will be starting an underwear line called “Cocky Chef.” He’s also working on a book called “Dirty Dishes” that will include, he says, stories from 60 people about how they met him (c’mon Stefan-haters, don’t you just have to love the sheer chutzpah of assuming people want to read all about what other people think about Stefan?!) in addition to recipes.
Would he start his own restaurant? “Write a check, buddy!” he replied. It’s a tough economic climate for that, especially since he would want it to be accessible and affordable, complaining about a recent night out with “$13 Bud Lights!”
Whatever he does, he says he’s learned from Top Chef that the “public is important” and plans to court the favor of bloggers moving forward. I, for one, look forward to comped meals if and when he opens his restaurant.
– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist. Check out what I’m cooking this week on www.Three-Bowls.com!
(Image courtesy of BravoTV)