He’s brash, fiery and, after Wednesday’s episode, ousted from Top Chef. Mike Isabella was sent home after putting out a vegetarian dish that failed to impress the judges — including special guest Natalie Portman. Calling after his elimination, the outspoken chef says he knew it was his time to go and shares some regrets from the competition. –Brian Orloff
A lot of were disappointed by your elimination. Should Robin have gone home this week? I was in the bottom three times total including last night but I don’t think I should have been in the bottom at all — except for last night. You have Robin in there about 90 percent of the time and you know she can’t compete at the same level I can complete. I had one dish that wasn’t great and you send me home. Was it unfair? That’s the decision but the bottom line is my dish wasn’t a great dish. It wasn’t at the level it should have been, so I went home.
Do you wish you had defended yourself differently at Judges’ Table?I’m not that person; I’m not going to throw somebody else under the bus in front of the judges. I was the first one to say when we were in teams … what I had to do with a dish. I don’t take credit when I don’t deserve it. I’d rather go out the way I went out. I shouldn’t have put out that dish. It’s my fault and I’m going to take responsibility for that.
Do you think the judges consider past performances when making their decisions?It doesn’t just come down to the food in my own personal vision because if it did, some of the who are still there would have been sent home already. I got sent home for one bad dish on the entire season. Jen had a horrible Restaurant Wars; Kevin had a very bad Restaurant Wars. Mike had a tough day that day. We all had them. But I felt that I was the black sheep in the herd throughout this season just because of who I am, how I cook, how I act and stuff like that.
You were pretty outspoken. Do you regret anything you said this season?There’s only one comment I would reword or rephrase. In episode 1 where I said “I’m not going to lose to a girl,” it was meant jokingly. Me and Jen are great friends before, during and after the show. I grew up in a broken family — with my mom, my sister and my grandmother. I was surrounded by women so I would never, ever disrespect a woman like that. That’s just the way I was raised. And if I was to reword it I would say, “I’m not going to lose to someone who worked at Le Bernardin,” which is a Michelin star restaurant, because I don’t care because I can compete against anyone in the whole world.
At this point, who will be in the final three?Bryan, Michael and Kevin are the Top 3. I felt like me and Jen were right behind them and any day one of us could win. But I just felt they adapted better than me and Jen did. Obviously Robin’s not going to make it and Eli has just been in the middle the whole time and Jen’s starting to fall apart. But those guys are such great cooks. Whoever has a perfect day and adapts to the challenge perfectly will win. Bravo