Top Chef's CJ: There Is No Bromance on Last Chance Kitchen!
Chris Jacobson | Photo Credits: Mathias Clamer/NBC
On the weekly online series, in which ousted Top Chef contestants battle it out for a chance to re-enter the main competition, CJ recently trounced Micah in a head-to-head challenge over tartare. Chef Tom Colicchio, who is the sole judge on Last Chance Kitchen, deemed CJ's beef heart tartare with pickled duck skin and tomato water the winning dish. Some of the comments online, however, have called for blind tasting to remove the perception that Tom may be favoring CJ because of a supposed "bromance" between the two chefs.
"I saw the word 'bromance' and was like, 'What?!? What the f--- are they talking about?'" CJ tells TVGuide.com. "I've known Tom longer than those other contestants ... but I don't think that he likes me so much that he's willing to put his integrity on the line on a show that's won Emmys. That's ridiculous. He doesn't do blind tastings on Top Chef. He knows who cooks what, and he did not like my burger [that caused me to be eliminated] there.
"I just think I've become a much better chef than I was before," he continues. "I wished they used the full thing that Tom said on Last Chance Kitchen. He's been saying that I'm cooking better, and that was hands down the best dish that I've done that he's tasted ... I think that once I won three, the word 'bromance' was going to be used no matter what. I think it's a really lame word."
And although CJ would prefer to be judged solely on the quality and execution of his food, perception does matter when it comes to Last Chance Kitchen. Should he (God forbid) lose a challenge, he has one more shot to stay in the game with the "Save a Chef" competition in which viewers vote each week for an eliminated Last Chance Kitchen chef. In the end, the "saved" contestant will earn a spot in the final round of Last Chance Kitchen. Thus far, the powers that be (and voters of course) have kept Chef Kuniko, and in a sense, both she and CJ have both been a constant presence in the Last Chance Kitchen competition, although she hasn't been actively cooking.
Check out what else CJ has to say about returning to Top Chef, how bad John really is and who he thinks should win among the remaining contestants:
Why did you decide to return to Top Chef? You were originally on Season 3...
CJ: The opportunity presented itself. When I was originally on, it had helped open a few doors. But also, I'm a much different chef than I was back then. I really thought I could win, so I wanted to check it out. And it's fun. I love being on Top Chef. I used to be an athlete, and there's not a lot of places where you can have a competition and satisfy those creative needs as well.
Did the producers have to coax you or reassure you about anything before you returned?
CJ: I had watched Top Chef a few times before and my last terrible vision was of these people shooting guns at the possible things they had to cook with and then they had to go skiing [in Season 9's biathlon challenge]. I was like, "Oh my God. What the f--- happened to this show that I used to love?" So I asked them, "Am I the only one coming back like a d-----bag? Will there be circus acts that we have to perform?" I just wanted to cook. They reassured me that the reason we were coming back was to make it far more culinary-driven for Season 10 and they wanted to make it more serious and stick to the food.