You thought it was over? Not quite. We caught up with a very hoarse Hung Huynh today, two days after his big Top Chef win. He's still in Chicago, about to head back to Vegas after a long night of partying with the cast and crew at a place called Rocket. He swears there's no animosity with anyone from the show, especially now that it's over and it's no longer a competition for him. Even CJ, who he kind of smack-talked (again) in the final episode. So all's well that ends well in the world of Hung. Here we have some final thoughts about the show, the contestants, his future and finding good Vietnamese food in Vegas.
We know when you were told you won, but when did you know you won?
Watching the judges table. I thought, "Hey, they didn't say any of my dishes were inedible." So I felt really confident.
Why did you win and the others lose?
Technically my food was better. I really got to use my personality and let my flavors shine. I took the judges advice. They wanted to see my true style. It was my passion and my technique combined.
Watching the season, is there something that you did or said that made you cringe?
At the judges table when I talked back to chef Tom. I respect him a lot. And I would never talk back to any professional ever. But the competition really gets to you.
Say something to the haters.
Hate all you want. I'm Top Chef. Move on with your lives. Can they even cook? Are they even professionals? Do they know about food? Really though, I get so much support from fans. There have been a lot of great comments.
Name your favorite challenge, favorite judge, favorite dish.
The challenges in Manhattan at the culinary school. Not because I won both challenges, but I really got to showcase where I'm coming from. I could apply my style and technique. Favorite judge: Rocco, Daniel, and Bourdain of course. Favorite Dish the geoduck and black chicken.
And having Rocco as your sous?
I respected him for his food and personality and the way he thinks about food even before the show. He's hardcore and passionate. When he was my sous, I had even more respect for him because he was humble enough to work for me. But that aside, I had to have him do it my way because it was my show, my competition and I'm wasn't going to let anything slide.
Out of your fellow contestants, who would you hire?
Clay and Tre.
Clay?? Wasn't he the first one kicked off?
Yeah, but he's standing next to me right now.
Marcel was more excited than your family for the win.
Yeah, I guess he felt it was me winning for him. It was revenge time. For my family, there's too much of a language barrier, so it was hard for them to understand. But they're really happy for me.
Where's that money going?
Towards enhancing my culinary education. I can take a few months off from work, travel and work in different places in Chicago, Spain, and Asia. Part will be donated to Buddhist temples.
Will you be back at Guy Savoy at Caesars? Can we find you there?
I'll be there for awhile. I do have plans to move on. I'm weighing my options, but I'll be there.
What's your dream scenario for the future?
To open something in NY or LA, maybe Vegas. The restaurant has to be chef driven, not concept or theme though.
Where do you eat in LA?
I had one of the best meals at Spago. It was soo soo good. The flavors, the dishes they gave me had a lot of Asian influences. And they were dead on.
Any advice for the Top Chef Chicago contestants?
Don't worry about the haters, don't worry about being a favorite. I was voted as the villain, the one that the audience wanted to kick off the most. But Bravo really focused on the work, not the personality.
Don't you think being the "villain" kind of worked in your favor, though? Every show needs a antagonist.