Jeff McInnis was nothing if not serious about his food. And when the Miami-based chef lost his head-to-head challenge in Wednesday’s episode, he took the loss hard. Calling from his Florida restaurant Dilido Beach Club, the chef had some spicy words about his competitors, head judge Tom Colicchio and why he felt “used” by the show. He also tackled our five burning questions. — Brian Orloff
Did you think Fabio was going to be eliminated — or did you know it was your time?We all thought it was going to be Fabio. He had overcooked venison. It was well done. It was dried out, overcooked, the salad was wilted and the dressing was just soaked into the salad. It was a bad dish. They even showed on TV when the judges came up and ate mine, every single one of them said, “I like yours. I like yours too. I think I’m going to vote for Josie‘s.” … They all said something negative about Fabio’s, so it was strange for the judges to all say something positive about my dish and then me be the one who goes.
Talk about your ceviche dish versus Josie’s? Was your dish more authentic? Ceviche is a chilled seafood dish that’s cooked in acid. Josie took a can of black beans and heated it up in a sauce pot, and put some shrimp in there and heated up the shrimp. It’s like shrimp nachos what she made. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s actually a Cuban dish like that, too. But for her to call it ceviche is interesting. … If the tables were turned and she was the Top Chef challenging, it would have been judged a little more harshly.
Were you held to a different standard?Definitely. I’m competing for the title of Top Chef. Josie was just in there as a hit man, coming to knock you out. Say she made beef Wellington, which is something wrapped in puff pastry, and called it carpaccio. It doesn’t matter to Tom.
One constant criticism of your food was that there were too many components to each dish. Was that helpful or constructive?It was a criticism that night. It’s something I thought about. But that dish is on my menu … and I served it to about 20 today. They all loved it. I am not going to change that dish because Tom Colicchio said he didn’t like it. It’s a little shocking that I went home over that dish, but I’m not going to change the way I cook because of one person’s opinion. My opinion about Tom Colicchio’s food is that it’s extremely boring. I’ve been to his restaurant. His chicken dish on his menu is roasted chicken with roasted potatoes, thyme and olive oil. If I want that, I’d go to my grandmother’s house. That’s just not exciting to me. I don’t know who would go out and pay exorbitant amounts of money for that food.
How do you think you’ll be remembered on the show? What impression did you leave?I think the show used me as some kind of sex object. Every single show that I’ve ever seen, they have me with my shirt off in the beginning — which is kind of strange. I don’t run around the house naked half the time like they portrayed me. It seems like a camera was always following me around trying to find me whenever I’m taking my clothes off to change in the morning or at night. So, to be used like that is always fun.
Our Top Chef 5 Burning Questions:
Describe your Top Chef experience in one word. Exciting.
What is in your refrigerator right now?Chicken.
Name one food you cannot stand.There’s nothing, really.
Pick your favorite fast-food restaurant.Street food? There’s little Taquerias. There’s a place called Lime that’s good around here.
Gail or Toby?Gail — she knew food better. She had a better palate.
Michael Lavine /Bravo