Edward Lee would like to point out that he technically was in the final four of Top Chef — for a few hours. But then Beverly, having won Last Chance Kitchen, returned to the game and out-cooked him for a spot in the actual final four. "It is what it is. I don't hold a grudge. She won fair and square," Ed tells TVGuide.com. "I shouldn't have used the smoked oysters, so it was all on me." Still, the Louisville-based chef is none too pleased with the second-chance secret competition for eliminated cheftestants. Find out why.
Top Chef's Grayson: I wasn't excited about Last Chance Kitchen
Did you think you were going to be eliminated?
Ed: Yeah, a lot of times I think you can feel it when your dish isn't up to par. ... It was a tough elimination, especially because it was me and Lindsay. She's such a great chef. She was, as you saw, in major tears mode. I was feeling bad for her because she was really breaking down. It was a fair assessment.
Why did you buy smoked oysters? You know one of the show's biggest sins is buying pre-packaged food.
Ed: Who knows? [Laughs] We made a smoked oyster soup before — obviously not with pork. It was a completely different dish. I never even thought that I wouldn't find fresh oysters. When it happened, I was so thrown off my game. I saw these smoked oysters and was like, "You know, we've used them before..." But the minute I started cooking with them, I was like, "This is not a good idea." I should've just not put the sauce on the plate. But if it didn't have a sauce at all, it might be too simple. It wasn't a terrible sauce, but it just didn't go with the dish. Everything stems from one small decision and it continues to grow and becomes a thing. But hindsight's 20/20.
How tough was it to lose in front of your mentor?
Ed: Frankie [Crispo]'s OK. I've known Frankie for so long that he's less of a mentor and more of a friend. He was sympathetic.
Had you won the Quickfire, you said you would've chosen the car over the free pass into the final. Would you really have or did you say that because Sarah chose the free pass?
Ed: You'd have to be in the moment, but I think I would've chosen the car. We're here to compete. Who knows? In the heat of the moment, I might've broken down and picked the free pass, but I'd like to think I'd have taken the car.
Do you think that's a fair twist? I feel like you should all cook your way into the final.
Ed: That, I didn't really mind. But I didn't understand the concept of Last Chance Kitchen to be completely honest. I understand why it's there, but to me it seems like, once you're out, you're out. What's the point of a second chance? I don't get it.
And they weren't competing under the same challenges as you guys were.
Ed: Yeah. I mean, obviously I don't like it because I was the one that was knocked out! [Laughs] Beverly loves the concept of Last Chance Kitchen! But if we're in a basketball tournament, you can't lose and say, "Let me play another loser and get back in." That's all water under the bridge now.
Top Chef's Chris Jones: I had a bad feeling about everything
You were the only eliminated chef who didn't get to participate in Last Chance Kitchen.
Ed: Well, that's the whole thing. And it's interesting because had we known there was Last Chance Kitchen, there might've been a way to strategize. I don't think anyone would, but you could think, "Hey, maybe I'll purposely get eliminated because I know I'll have a chance to get back in." It will be interesting in upcoming seasons if they continue [Last Chance Kitchen]. Because the Last Chance Kitchen challenges are — I wouldn't say easier — but they're much more simple than the elimination challenges. For example, I think Nyesha had an incredible run and it was very possible for her to come back except for the fact that she got knocked out so early, so for her to win, like, eight or nine challenges in a row is tough. And at a certain point she probably got exhausted. So you could strategize and maybe go out closer to the end. Beverly only had to beat three people to get back in.
Why were you convinced it was Beverly and not Grayson coming back?
Ed: As much as this is a cooking competition, it's also a psychological one. Once you're psyched-out, it's hard to come back. Beverly has shown that she has the resilience and toughness. I think Grayson, just from her personality, checked out mentally when she got eliminated. As chefs, I think they're both equally strong, but Beverly was coming off some confidence [with wins in Last Chance Kitchen] and Grayson just got eliminated so close to the final four that it might've been tough mentally to get back in.
You were one of the few people, the majority of which were guys, who didn't have problems with Beverly. Why was she such a sore spot for the girls?
Ed: I think a lot of it is that her ways are very unorthodox. It's tough working next to her because she does things and says things and says things. I think guys just pay less attention to that. We're probably less in tune to what's going on around us. Women might be more sensitive. That's a generalization, but I think it's true in this case. The other thing is sometimes she's portrayed as a victim and sometimes she's not — one scene she's crying and next she's putting an elbow into your rib to get an ingredient. There were times where she was very headstrong and it rubbed the girls the wrong way. I think guys are also naturally more competitive. If someone checks me or bumps into me or whatever, I may get mad at the moment, but I wouldn't hold a grudge. I won't sit and stew about it. It would just motivate me to concentrate and beat them. At the end of the day, we all respect each other.
Top Chef's Beverly: I stood out like a sore thumb
I loved the scene of you forcing yourself to cry.
Ed: [Laughs] I was close to crying [this episode]. I didn't cry at all on the show. It was really shocking to me to see everyone cry when their mentors came out. It's not to say I didn't want to cry. But seeing the emotional weight it carried for the other chefs was like, "Wow! These guys really want it." It's hard to explain. I'm also emotional, but I guess I show it less. It was really enlightening to see how much the other chefs were so deeply invested.
Why did you wear a suit jacket to bed?
Ed: [Laughs] It was a running joke. Every day we'd wake up and say, "It's all about business." And I brought this suit and I never really had an opportunity to wear it. So I was like, "If we're going to be about business, I'm going to sleep in this suit."
Was it comfortable sleeping in it?
Ed: You know, I don't know. We're so exhausted that some moments I fell asleep sitting in a chair. You try to get as much sleep as you can since you never know what's coming next.
What are you up to now?
Ed: Just plugging away. The restaurant's busier than it's ever been. I'm working on a cookbook, which will hopefully be released in 2013. Tons of opportunities have come from this and I'm just trying to be wise about them and not jump at the first offer.