What inspired you to sign on for the show?
The only show that I would have done on TV was The Next Iron Chef. There are a lot of other chef shows, competitions that are on TV that I won't name by name, but The Next Iron Chef is the only one that truly says, we want to see you as a chef, and we want to see who can actually be an Iron Chef. Not to see who can entertain us with the after-work antics and all this kind of stuff. It's about the food. I’ve even been surprised by how much of the quote-unquote antics they’ve actually cut. Even the on-set banter, like on the boat, there was a lot of joking around and they just showed us picking up the fish!
How different was the experience from what you initially expected?
I'll be 100 percent honest: I didn’t think it was going to be as hard as it was. Not to say I went in thinking it was going to be easy, but I kind of went in there thinking, you know, you do what you do, you see what happens. Which is the philosophy that I had the whole time: Just cook your food and relax. But these challenges and how good everybody was ... when you’re the chef of your own kitchen, you think your s--- doesn’t stink. You get into a room full of these men and women and you’re like, wow. There’s nine other people just as good as I am.
Did you make good friends among the other "rivals"?
We’re all friends now. There was nobody that didn’t get along. Well, Caz and Ming had a little ... arm-wrestle, I guess you could say? But for the most part, everybody really got along. I had heard of some of them, but had never actually met any of them before the show. We’ve had little mini New York reunions. I’m hoping that this can actually lead to some type of food festival we can have every year.