After juggling his, ours, and the NY-based Bravo publicists schedules, we were finally able to check in with local Top Chef contestant Chris Jacobson (C.J.) before tonight's episode. In the teaser, it looks like he might finally break out from the middle of the pact, for better or worse. But regardless of how many times we try, we never get C.J. to tell us the outcome of the show. We can read between the lines, though. Find out where he hangs out in Venice, who his biggest competitors are on the show so far, and why he relies on Eater to tell him if he's a Shark yet. Find out CJ's fate tonight. Episode 3 of Top Chef airs at 10pm on Bravo.
So far, two episodes in, you seem to fly under the radar, just enough to get noticed, but not enough to get kicked off.
Yeah, there were a lot of us in the middle. We were like, "When are we going to break out?" Who knows what would've happened if I didn't have a seeds in my tangerine dish. Maybe I could've won that challenge. I'm competitive, I don't take it lightly. I'm here to win.
In the chat rooms and blogs, you're obviously a fan favorite.
I noticed that too. I was worried how I would be portrayed. But so far, it's pretty good. A lot of good one liners. It's weird how it's flooding back, to remember how it was at the time.
At the market in the barbecue episode, you told Casey you weren't going to help her. Were you just being a dick?
I said I'm not helping her, because, hey, I needed to get my stuff too. But Casey and I got along really well on the show, we were friends. We hung out a lot. That was completely in jest. I would never say anything mean. She's pretty sarcastic too, so she took it well.
People wondered if there was a latent asshole in you, just waiting to come out.
When I was on the show, I focused on being gracious and happy to be there. When someone tried to get under my skin, I was ready with sarcasm.
How are your friends and family reacting?
My friends are scared, saying they don't want to watch it. They really get into it. Everyone wants to know what's going to happen, but I just tell them, you know, who knows. Gotta watch.
Have you been recognized out and about in LA?
I've been approached a lot. I try to have some sort of response ready, but I'm working on it. I go to the Other Room in Venice all the time. The other day these two girls came up to me, and I was there with my girlfriend, and they asked me all this stuff. My girlfriend was like, "Oh, great this is what I have to get used to." But sarcastically, like "Oh you're so famous now." The height definitely gives it away. I gave up being a bank robber years ago because I'll get picked out of a line up.
We heard tonight's episode is in an Elk's Lodge. And we saw the teaser where all the judges hate the food.
Yes, it's comfort food, and it does take place in the Elks Lodge. I don't have a lot of experience with Elks Lodge dining or elderly people. So it wasn't easy.
Looks like Tom was singling you out in the teaser, but that could've been editing. Did you get the "can't fly in the middle" speech or was that someone else?
I don't know. He talked to me a lot, so who knows when that was.
Now that we're kind of acquainted with the cheftestants, who's your biggest competition?
It's all about being resilient and adapting to these rules, and I wondered who was really able to adapt. The obvious strong people were Hung and Tre. But they come off a lot more arrogant on TV. With Hung, I can't believe all the stuff he says. Loud security is a sign of insecurity. I was wondering when Lia would start firing up, because she's an executive sous chef at Jean Georges. Sandee and I had the least amount of experience. After those first two challenges, though, I thought 'these 13 people are all very very very strong.'
The pissing match between Howie and Joey was a bit ridiculous.
Howie is a stand up guy. But any sort of situation falls like hot lava on him. He's on the brink. Joey wears his heart on his sleeve. People got caught under the pressure. We were there for two weeks, sequestered. People reacted to the stress differently.
Can we look forward to some hot tub antics?
We spent a lot of time in the hot tub, especially because we couldn't leave. We were stuck there all the time. And hey, there were a lot of pretty girls and bikinis. Drinking and hot tubs kind of go hand in hand, don't they?
You're still a guppy on the poll.
Now people ask me, "Are you a still a guppy?" I tell them I don't know, but I guarantee Lesley [Eater] will tell me.
But fans have you as one of the last four standing in another poll.
· Top Chef Week 2: A Love Letter to Norman Van Aken [~ELA~]
· Top Chef 3 Premieres Tonight: Watch For Chris Jacobson, the Tallest Guy in the Room [~ELA~]