In last week’s Foo Fighters Thanksgiving episode of Top Chef 5, Alex Eusebio emerged with a little more screen time than he’d had since this new season premiered. That could only mean two things: either he was on his way up…or on his way out.
Although his performance in that episode was solid, last night things took a turn for the worse and a failed crème brulee sent him packing. Alex spoke with us today about his time on the show, how he felt about Melissa Harrison “throwing him under the bus” and how his fiancée felt about him going on the show so soon before their wedding.
Alex admits that after watching the episode, he does feel a bit like Melissa’s comments were designed to help build the case for keeping her over him on Top Chef 5. But, he says, there are no hard feelings. He calls Melissa a “sweetheart,” and says they can joke about things now, with Melissa signing messages “the busdriver.”
I asked him if what I thought I was seeing in the episode – Leah Cohen nudging Melissa to handle judging as she did – actually happened. Alex says it might have been partially that, but if Leah had a hand in it at all, it was as a friend, not crafty competitor. The chefs appear to have broken off into groups of friends: Alex said that he, Carla Hall, Ariane Duarte, Jamie Lauren and Richard Sweeney were one group; Melissa, Leah and Hosea Rosenberg were another; and the Euro duo of Fabio Viviani and Stefan Richter got along with Eugene Villiatora and Danny Gagnon. (I forgot to ask him where Jeff McInnis and Radhika Desai were in all this.) So it was natural, Alex seemed to be saying, that Leah would help her friend plan a strategy for the judging.
Alex says that his main flaw was that his crème brulee didn’t set, but he felt the flavors of it were strong. He admits it’s possible he could have had a better chance at staying if he had “wanted it more” and made more pointed comments about the other dishes at judging. But he did have a lot on his mind, having left for the competition without a tux ready or vows written for his wedding, which happened on August 24.
I asked him how he had convinced his fiancée to let him go on the show so close to their wedding, and he said actually it was the other way around. She’s in entertainment, and so knew the chance to get exposure on the show would be good for his career. He said it was her insistence that pushed him to go on the show and she has been very supportive.
One of the reasons he was reluctant to go on the show is that – as he mentioned during the episode – he can be a little shy. But having had this “dry run” as he put it, he said he finds he feels less reluctant to take on the more public parts of being a more successful chef. He said it’s even made small things, like visiting with customers in the restaurant, easier.
His nerves during the challenge might have been made worse by proximity to Padma Lakshmi, who is, as Alex noted, as stunning in person as one would expect. He feels that Tom Colicchio is an excellent chef and deserving of his reputation. He wasn’t as thrilled with Rocco DiSpirito as a guest judge, saying he does have trouble imagining Rocco sweating on the line in a busy kitchen.
As to what he thought of his fellow chefs, he joked he was still mad at Richard for writing the farewell letter that made him cry. He said he admires Jamie’s talent the most and feels that Carla is ego-free. Not so much for Stefan and Fabio, but he wonders if their egos will eventually “cancel each other out.”
We’ll see if Alex’s prediction comes true as Top Chef 5 continues.
– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of BravoTV)