Overseasoning a dish is pretty unforgiveable on Top Chef, but "Malibu" Chris Crary didn't think his ultra-salty rub for his team's barbeque meat would doom him. "I knew I made a mistake, but I didn't think it was going to be me at all," he tells TVGuide.com. "I was pretty surprised. It seemed pretty close between the five of us." Alas, the resident eye candy got eliminated — but not before we got an eyeful of his favorite non-cooking pastime: painting naked women. See what "Malibu" Chris has to say about his hobby, Beverly's RV fire and more.
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What happened with the rub? Could you not fix it in time?
Chris: When I realized it [was too salty], it was at the point that we just couldn't do much about it, so we just decided to roll with it. It wasn't like a salt lick, but it was pretty aggressively seasoned. ... We were all delirious by that point, so it was like, "This is what we've got!" We tried to put more sauce on it to try to cover it up. The end pieces had really been cooked because they're further out on the rib and are smaller, so those were pretty salty. We tried to cut those off and not serve those.
Have you made the rub before?
Chris: Yes, but I haven't made it outdoors at 4 a.m. in the dark. [Laughs] I think we were just trying to get as much flavor out of as much as we could in the time we had. We were pushing the envelope a little bit and none of us had cooked like that before, so we didn't know how greatly things intensified with long times of heat. I don't think we were prepared for what was going to happen over the 10 hours of cooking.
You had been cutting it close a bit, going back to the cupcake and the last challenge with the salmon. When you realized you messed up, did you think that your number will be up this time?
Chris: Thanks for reminding me of those! [Laughs] I guess about 30 seconds before [the elimination], in my head, I had a lot of flashbacks of those and thought maybe it was my time. But so many other people made major mistakes that could've been greater than mine. You never know.
Do you think Chris' and Beverly's mistakes were more egregious than yours?
Chris: I'm not saying that, but there were mistakes made by everybody. And that's going to happen when you're out for that many hours and not thinking clearly. I stepped up and took responsibility for it. Chris was feeling a lot of heat since he manned the pit and cooked everything. They were really coming down on him, so I stepped up and said I was the one who did the seasoning but made it too salty.
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What's your take on Sarah going to the hospital and leaving her team? Were you worried that that would put you guys more at risk for elimination since Ed and Ty were down a person?
Chris: It was pretty confusing. I saw the whole Sarah thing go down. I wasn't sure if the judges were going to be sympathetic or if they would be, like, "Why didn't you push through it?" And to see her come back, serve the judges and then leave, it was like, "Wow!" It was like, "I'm looking after myself, so now I'm going to sit down and I don't care what anyone thinks." I really felt bad for Ty and Ed. I love those guys and I was thinking Sarah might be the one going home for that, but that would make the judges look like monsters. [Laughs]
You said you got stuck with Chris and Beverly. Do you regret not being more aggressive and pairing up with people you wanted to be with?
Chris: A little bit. But it shouldn't play that major of a factor because we're all amazing chefs. It shouldn't really matter what group you were in, but if you're competing to win, you have to think about all the factors. Like Ty's brother is a Kansas City pit master. There were some people who had a little more experience with barbeque. It would've been nice to have aligned myself with them.
You said Beverly's missing a few chapters when it comes to common sense, so was it that great of an idea to let her cook a pot of bourbon in the RV?
Chris: Oh my God! That was hilarious! [Laughs] Beverly's definitely an interesting character. It was so funny because whenever you cook alcohol, it's going to flame up. It was a giant pot of bourbon and as soon as she started to walk into the RV with it, I said, "Beverly, you probably don't wanna do that inside the RV." And 10 seconds later I hear the smoke alarm going off. I was so delirious that I don't even think I turned around because I knew it was going to happen.
I love that it was a huge flame and she just stood there and didn't do anything until the alarm went off.
Chris: Yeah! The flame was going above her head. I think if the camera guy hadn't been there, she either would've let that go or she would've had a much different reaction.
How many people call you "Malibu" Chris now?
Chris: Oh, God. Everyone! Everyone at work loves it. They think it's the funniest thing ever. ... It all started because there are two Chrises and ... the other chefs did it to differentiate us. It started pretty early, but they didn't air it until later. And first, they called me as Malibu Ken and my name's not Ken, so it became Malibu Chris.
We have to talk about your naked lady art. What is up with that?
Chris: [Laughs] I don't know. I guess, as I said in my casting video, I wasn't hugged enough as a child. It's one of those things where — I don't know, women are beautiful and it's just something I like to do.
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When did you start?
Chris: It was right before I moved to L.A., so two and a half, three years ago. It's just a good way to unwind. If you've ever worked in the kitchen or know anyone who does, it's pretty crazy and loud and hectic and dangerous, so to be able to come home and put some music on and paint and escape that world of chaos is quite soothing. ... They made it seem like it was just nudes, but I only have ... like maybe six nude paintings and probably 15 or 20 that aren't nudes [in my home]. Maybe the nude ones are just a forefront of all the other artwork.
What do women think of them?
Chris: What does that imply? That I'm a player? [Laughs] I actually don't have that many people over. There was one girl in the past who was kind of freaked-out about it, which was weird to me because she was a dancer — not an exotic dancer, which is an art form of itself, but I thought she would be more comfortable with it.
What are you up to now?
Chris: Living the dream! I'm just working nonstop. I'm doing a really large game dinner tonight with a lot of food writers and really prominent people in L.A. I'm excited for that. And who knows what the future holds. Hopefully fan favorite! I love my fans. There were 2 million [votes] this morning, which is crazy to me. But it's great to know that that many people care enough to go online and vote and tweet me. It would be amazing to win it.