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Top Chef: Las Vegas - Conference Call with Jesse Sandlin and Hector Santiago

Posted on 09/10/2009 by Gina in Top Chef and Cast Interviews

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Jesse Sandlin and Hector Santiago from Top Chef Vegas


by Gina Scarpa

Last night, on Top Chef: Las Vegas, a high stakes quickfire challenge ended up being Jesse’s undoing and she was eliminated on the spot.  Later, the chefs drew knives which had either a well known French protein or French sauce written on it.  They paired up and were asked to create an impressive dish for some of the best chefs in the world, including Daniel Boulud, Hubert Keller, and Joel Robuchon.  Hector teamed up with Ash but their dish did not go over well with the judges.  Feeling that he did not deliver, Hector was sent home.  Today, the two spoke to reporters in a press conference call and had a lot to say to RealityWanted about their time on Top Chef.

Q. Gina, RealityWanted: What made you want to be a part of Top Chef this season?
A. Hector: My wife has been telling me forever that I should go do this.  I’m not into competitions so it took me a while to say, “Okay, I’m gonna do this.”  This is a one time opportunity so I have to do it now.  I wanted to showcase what I do and do this for me, my wife, and for my people.
A. Jesse: It’s something that people told me I should do for a long time but I never really thought I would.  I was sort of recommended to Bravo and I did this video and it kind of all just happened really fast.  One of the reasons why I wanted to do it was to put Baltimore on the map and show that there are some good things going on there.

Q. Gina, RealityWanted: What was the toughest part about the competition for you?
A. Hector: I would say that the biggest thing was the clock. Always the clock. 
A. Jesse: For me, it was the mental part.  The isolation and being so far away from your friends and family and not have anyone to lean on.  No music to listen to and crap like that.

Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Do you feel like certain people were favored by the judges?  It seems like the same people are always at the top of the pack, as well as the bottom.
A. Jesse: I will say that I think that everyone who was on this season is incredibly talented and that it was a very tough competition. 
A. Hector: I understand what you’re saying but that’s all I have to say, too.

Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Do you feel like the competition showed off what you are able to do in your everyday lives when you cook?
A. Jesse: No.  That’s not the way that I work and it’s a lot easier to have days to perfect a dish.  If something goes wrong, you have everything at your disposal to fix it instead of having this very limited set of parameters to work with.
A. Hector: In any competition, there are people that are quicker to get to the point.  You put the clock in there and that changes the whole equation.

Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Did you like working in pairs and teams this season or would you rather have worked alone?
A. Jesse: I will just say this.  I think that certain people got really lucky with whom they were paired with.
A. Hector: I would prefer a team to work with, not knowing the other person well is difficult and I was paired with two different people this season.  I think that we worked well together but still.  It’s difficult to compromise sometimes.

Q. Gina, RealityWanted: What are you going to do in the future?
A. Jesse: I don’t know.  For me, there’s several different things that I’m thinking about doing and it really made me rethink everything.  I think that the future is wide open for me at the moment.
A. Hector: I’m going to do what I always do and keep on doing what I’m doing.  My only plan in the future is to make my customers happier. 

Top Chef: Las Vegas airs Wednesday nights at 10pm ET on Bravo.

(Image courtesy of Bravo)


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