In last night's episode of Top Chef All-Stars, Dallas-based toque Tre Wilcox got the axe after botching risotto at Rao's, one of New York's most notorious Italian eateries. In our post-mortem rehash this morning, Wilcox revealed the story behind his nickname ("the Black Italian") and how he manages to maintain those rock-hard abs.
This morning Tony Bourdain tweeted: "To cook risotto badly is a sin against God." Thoughts?
[Laughs.] He's the ultimate slander king. I don't love him any less. That's his personality and that's what he's gotta do. If I had Twitter, I'd reply, "Come on now, it wasn't that bad."
Can we expect to see risotto on the menu at Marquee? [Opening March 14.]
Oh yeah, definitely. But it's risotto my way. If any of the judges want to come in I'll throw a little extra stock in their pot.
Why do people call you the "Black Italian"?
It's an ongoing joke between me and some of my sous chefs that have been with me for years because I've been known to do Italian-influenced menus. I made up the name for myself. I thought it was pretty comical.
You seemed surprised to be in the bottom. Who should have gone home in your place?
I thought it was between me and Mike. It's all good. That's the nature of the show. A good chef has to go home every week.
How did your family react to your early departure?
The kids haven't seen it yet but my wife watched it with me. She was just as proud of me as when I got kicked off the first time. She knows I love to compete but I'm not a sore loser. I was very happy with my exit and the way Bravo sent me out of there. [Remember this disastrous exit?]
Do you have any crazy fan stories?
I get recognized pretty often but nobody's done anything too wild. I get a lot of inquiries about my work out regimen, and people tell me they love my laugh and attitude. A lot of people responded when I said that my wife is my sous chef in life. I think that gave me a lot of points with the ladies.
How do you stay so fit?
I'm a gym rat. I work out four or five days a week. I work my butt off in the gym so I can go into the restaurant and be a top-notch chef. Being in shape can help you perform better in the kitchen.
What are your favorite meals in your hometown?
That's a tough one. [In Dallas] I like to go to Craft and Nonna. I'm a big protein guy. If someone can throw down a rib eye and cook and season right, I'm good.
What would you have done with the $200,000?
I never wrapped my mind around that. I didn't go on Top Chef to win. I went on it to learn. The knowledge is more valuable than the cash. It would have been nice to have someone just give me the $200k, but at the end of the day money isn't what defines me.
More 16th Minute Interviews on The Feast:
Exit interviews with booted Top Chef All Stars