By People Staff
January 22, 2009 12:00 AM
Michael Lavine /Bravo

She was sent back home to Chicago after failing to steer her team to victory in Top Chef‘s beloved Restaurant Wars challenge. Now, Radhika Desai says she realizes her failure of leadership but still wouldn’t pick strong competitor Stefan for her team. Calling from Chicago, the chef opens up about why she seemed so defeated, what she really thought about Stefan and Carla’s work and tackles our five burning questions. –Brian Orloff

Going into the challenge, what was your philosophy on being team leader?I wanted to delegate and give each person the responsibility to take care of their own things. In doing that, I guess I didn’t oversee enough. I guess I’m just that way: I rely on other to take care of their own stuff. I should have been a better manager, I guess, in hindsight.

Are you proud of the restaurant you created?I think we made a beautiful restaurant with really great food. If It was my fault for being too polite and too timid then I would take that as a fault any day.

Let’s talk about Stefan, who won the challenge. Do you regret not picking him for your team?I want to say that I love Stefan. We’re friends. Whatever happened on the show happened under pressure. And, no, I don’t regret not picking him because it may have turned out even worse for me or my teammates. I think he’s an awesome chef. I think he’s really strong. Outside of the kitchen, I love seeing him, but in the kitchen, I wouldn’t want to work with him.

Were Carla’s desserts really as bad as said?They weren’t that bad. The frozen yogurt was melted, and her baklava was good. It wasn’t horrible. They were really hard on her – as they were on me too. But compared to Stefan’s desserts, Carla’s weren’t that great.

The judges seemed to like your team’s food overall, though the guests voted for the other team. Do you think you deserved to win the challenge?I totally think we should have been judged more on the food. I would rather have mediocre service then be served undercooked, scaly fish. But that’s just me.

Some of the judges said you seemed defeated by the end. Do you agree? I was really exhausted, and I made the mistake of wearing heels, so that was even worse. You think about things you could have done, how much stronger you could have been, but at that point you’re scared, nervous. I missed home. Lots of things were happening. I seemed defeated because I was.

Our Top Chef 5 Burning Questions: Describe your Top Chef experience in one word.Life-changing.

What is in your refrigerator right now?Honestly? A gyro I bought last night at 4 in the morning and didn’t eat. And some juice.

Name one food you cannot stand.Something I don’t prefer? Liver.

Pick your favorite fast-food restaurant.Chipotle.

Gail or Toby?Gail – she was more constructive.

READ MORE: Top Chef Recap: It’s Restaurant Wars!

Michael Lavine /Bravo