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Bringing Home the Bacon

A 'Top Chef' update.

3:15 PM, Feb 14, 2013 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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And then there were three. (SPOILER ALERT) But at the moment we only know two of this season's Top Chef finalists, Brooke Williamson and Sheldon Simeon. The third is the winner of Last Chance Kitchen, which will either be Kristen Kish or Lizzie Binder. But it won't be Oklahoma chef Josh Valentine, who got sent home for an improper foie gras torchon. "Time management is the biggest challenge," he said on the phone. "Whether it be for the professional chef or the home cook preparing a big meal for the holidays, you need to properly manage your time." And there simply wasn't enough time to make a torchon.

Bringing Home the Bacon

Was this the worst aspect of the competition? Actually, said the chef, "there was great anxiety over what the next challenge would be. And once you completed that challenge, you're already thinking about the next one." (Apparently Stefan Richter was a master at this game, imagining multiple scenarios beforehand.) And yes, Josh agrees that seasoning is another factor—it's not a matter of right or wrong but adjusting your palate to accommodate a judge's tastes as is the case when working for any head chef. No palate is the same (the judges on Top Chef may prefer a bit more salt than most of us).

I couldn't resist asking Josh, now that he's a chef at FT33 in Dallas, if he's ever run into that city's Most Hated Chef, John Tesar. After a pause, he said that Tesar had, in fact, come to eat at his restaurant and Josh returned the favor. "But I keep him at arm's length," Josh said. "He is what he is.... There's no love lost."

In case you're wondering, Josh owns somewhere between 15 to 20 different "pork-centric" t-shirts (such as the one saying "Bacon Makes Everything Better" and, my favorite, "Bacon Is Meat Candy").

It was also a historic night for the show. During the episode, Josh's wife gave birth to their daughter—the first baby born during the series (which ran for about six weeks over the summer, followed by a four-month hiatus, then on to Craft in Los Angeles). Her name is Georgia. I would've named her Padma.

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