Reggie Southerland

Where are you living/working now?

I'm living in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. Recently I've taken the position as chef at a wine bar called City Sip where I've created a menu of small plates to go with the wines.

What have you been up to since FNS?

Since NFNS I've been catering, consulting on bar menus and have made a second guest appearance on Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee – which is currently running on the network.

What did you enjoy most (and least) about being on FNS?

For me the most fun I had on the show was doing the challenges. It was very stressful under the circumstances but it allowed me to really work my creative – culinary muscles. I learned a lot about myself during that time and I keep those lessons with me wherever I go.

Do you still keep in touch with other finalists?

Nathan Lyon is a BOUNTY HUNTER! I should explain. First to answer the question – yes we do keep in touch. I live close to Nathan and if I don't return a phone call to him within a few days he hunts me down. We're good friends and he's a great guy.

Any behind-the-scenes happenings from FNS you can tell us about?

You know me – I do not kiss and tell!

How did being on FNS affect your culinary career?

Being on NFNS gave me more confidence in myself as a cook – it also gave me the opportunity to work outside of my comfort zone which is beneficial to anyone in the food industry.

What advice would you offer the next round of finalists?

I've said this before and I'll say it again – first it's a competition, don't take anything that anyone says personally. Stay focused and relaxed (even when you're running around like a chicken with your head off). Two – have fun – you may only get this chance once in a lifetime so enjoy it. Last but not least, be yourself. Don't be concerned about how others perceive you – stay true to yourself and you'll always come out on top.

When you look back, would you have done anything differently?

I would have had more fun!

Are you recognized from your time on FNS?

Well how do I answer this – yes! I am recognized all the time, and to this day it still amazes me. People are very kind – it's lovely.

What was the greatest lesson you learned from your time on FNS?

The greatest lessons I'll take from the show are one – that I can still be a good cook (being self-trained) and two – that I don't have to follow any trends to be a good cook and three – that I can trust myself and rely on my instinct.