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A Conversation With Jimmy Sears

A sort of 'Top Chef' update.

12:45 PM, Jan 6, 2013 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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I put this ragtag team together and Bourdain and I had met at Bigfoot’s restaurant ... in the Village. So we had all of these tumultuous relationships. And Adam DiCarlo, Real Last Name Unknown, was really a maniac. He was so hard to control. He was a brilliant baker, but he’d break into the restaurant and steal stuff and do all this other stuff, and then I’d have to threaten him and he would come in in the middle of the dining room and say, “I need to get paid more,” and start screaming and all this other shit, and back then I wasn’t as emotionally secure as I am now, and I would argue with him. And I think that would scare Tony.

And what happened was, in the process of getting back on my feet, I had a second job in the Hamptons, and it kind of states that in that chapter with coming back and forth to Quogue. And at that point, pardon my language, but he ratfucked me out of my job. And I was just getting back on my feet again. And I would have kept them all together and taken care of them. He was getting paid well and he could’ve eventually stepped into the job. So we had an argument right at that moment, and I think that in some way, shape, or form, he didn’t want to pay me or he thought that I would like to stop the book from being written if he included my name in those key chapters, and they were very important to the book, or I wanted something for them, or I would sue him for it or something. He was paranoid back then. Now he’s a big celebrity, he doesn’t care. But back then he didn’t know he was going to be on the New York Times bestseller list and all this other stuff, so he played it safe and just kind of left me out, and then he named me in the end. So it haunted me.... And he did a great job in it. He’s very good at vendettas. I mean, if you look at his early work, it’s all about the mob and all these things. So he punished me by not using my real name.

And then he adds with a laugh, "We've both gotten over it." Not only did Bourdain reveal Jimmy Sears's true identity, but he also considers him more talented than any other cook he's worked with. "His food—even the simplest of things—made me care about cooking again," Bourdain writes in Medium Raw. "The ease with which he conjured up recipes, remembered old recipes (his dyslexia prevented him from writing much of value), and threw things together was thrilling to me. And, in a very direct way, he was responsible for any success I had as a chef afterward."

When I asked Tesar if he still talks to Bourdain, he said they texted the other day "to ask him why I’m not on his new show Taste. But there’s only six episodes and it’s in the can already." To be sure, communication is infrequent, but Tesar understands. "I have a lot of other friends that have been celebrities. I grew up around Ben Stiller, and I know some of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. When you’re young and you’re around people that get successful later on, and your lives separate a little bit, it’s very difficult to reconnect with them because they have all these people around them that want them. And I respect that boundary around Flaco [Bourdain's nickname]."

He went on,

And when we’re together in the same room, he’s very gracious and a real friend and has acknowledged that a lot of his success was due to things that I helped him with. And to be included in Medium Raw and to be Jimmy Sears in Kitchen Confidential and to be documented like that in the culinary world and have it all come together by being on Top Chef, and having a brand new restaurant that seems to be getting great reviews, that’s what’s changed me.... Top Chef was on my bucket list. It’s off there now and I’m good.

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