Top Chef: All-Stars
Top Chef: All-Stars' man of many hats, Spike Mendelsohn, got served a trip home — thanks not only to his tasteless shrimp, but also some sly game-play by teammate Jamie, who refused to serve her dish in a tennis-inspired challenge at the U.S. Open. "It's like c'mon, you're a cook," Spike tells TVGuide.com. "I just don't understand how you can make it past the second round when you didn't cook anything. She's not a team player and doesn't serve. It's just weird." See what else the Washington, D.C.-based chef has to say about Jamie's "bad attitude," why Angelo probably should've gone home too, and if he thinks he is, in the words of Anthony Bourdain, still the "craftiest motherf-----" to appear on Top Chef.
Top Chef's Stephen: I was out of my current skill set
TVGuide.com: What happened with your shrimp? You said you butchered it.
Spike: During the brainstorming session, Angelo suggested shrimp because they're leaner and we could slow-poach them. Just like how I am in my restaurants, it's in my nature to work as a team. Looking back, I should've just stuck with the dish that I knew how to do. I slow-poached shrimp in olive oil, which I've never done before, and left them out. Then, last minute, I'm poaching shrimp a lot quicker and you can't do that. I was just a little bit off that day and I ended up with tasteless shrimp.
TVGuide.com: Did you think you were going to get the boot when it was between the three of you up there, since Tre had immunity?
Spike: Well, I lost all four votes [for the point] to Richard and no one else on my team lost all four votes, except for Tre. Jamie probably would've [been eliminated had she served], so I knew the odds were really, really against me. The only thing I was hoping for was that maybe someone is less willing to be there because there were a few contestants who were like, "I'm kind of done with this already." I was like, "Well, if you want to go home, tell them, because I'll hang out for a couple more days."
TVGuide.com: I thought the challenge was poorly designed because if one team won four points in a row, then three people on the losing team would automatically be safe since they didn't serve. Do you think the judges should've tasted all the dishes?
Spike: I think that goes under the category of Top Chef: All-Stars trying to make things a lot more difficult. You have to have more strategy involved. I did recognize that. We made a pact that if we had a really, really bad dish, that dish would go first, and Jamie's was the worst ... What are you supposed to do? Put the girl in a headlock and drag her to the judges' table? No, you're not doing that, so that just leaves you in an awkward position and the game plan is out the window.
TVGuide.com: This is the second elimination challenge in which Jamie didn't cook. Do you think she was purposefully trying to avoid cooking?
Spike: I feel like she thinks she's on another reality show, like, you know, The Bachelor, Real Housewives or whatever. She hasn't been cooking anything. [Laughs] ... I think Jamie's just got a bad attitude, to be honest with you. She's not a person I particularly would ever hang out with. The show is called Top Chef: All-Stars. It's a nationally recognized show that people go on to cook. I'm not sure if she got the memo. That's what you signed up for. Why wouldn't you want to show off what you can cook? Of course, she didn't by chance not serve her food.
Top Chef's Dale L.: I take being eliminated as a compliment
TVGuide.com: In the bonus clip, you guys serve tennis fans before serving the judges. Did Jamie serve the fans?
Spike: No, she just served her pork without the beans. Jamie didn't care about the fans. She was just worried about the judges. The same thing goes for Angelo. You're supposed to have 100 portions of food, according to the rules. All the mackerel he bought was 100 percent rotten, so he had to use tuna scraps from Tiffany's dish, and he only had 20 portions. In reality, Angelo could've also gone home because he didn't fulfill the criteria and prepare enough food for the fans. ... But he won the point, so he was exempt! I'm not mad. I know it's a tough job to go by every rule, and they're trying to make a good show.
TVGuide.com: Do you regret letting Angelo and Tiffani modify your dish?
Spike: Totally! But it's not like I was letting them. It's not like I'm going to start hitting people with tennis rackets or sautee pans on national television. I'm a lot different from how I was on [Season 4]. I've grown a lot. I have successful businesses. I do a lot with charity. My family is involved also. I'm not just on television representing myself and I'm very aware of that, so I tried to stay really calm and however the game ends up for me, it ends. It's a show. It's got a great following; they asked you back — and that's enough. The odds are so against you to win the show. For me at least, that's not what it's all about.
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TVGuide.com: But are you still the craftiest motherf----- to ever appear on the show?
Spike: I am the craftiest motherf----- and Anthony Bourdain's unborn child or long-lost son, as he put it. I'll take that title over the winner of Top Chef: All-Stars! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: You said in your exit video that you are going to donate the $5,000 you won in last week's Quickfire to a charity. Have you done so yet?
Spike: I already did. I donated $5,000 to Horton's Kids for Christmas presents and stuff. I didn't receive the money from Top Chef yet, but I went ahead and made the donation. Maybe they'll match me!
TVGuide.com: What are you up to now? Are you expanding Good Stuff or We, The Pizza, or opening a new restaurant?
Spike: We're finally at the point where we're taking Good Stuff Eatery nationally, so we're going to be opening up in Chicago, Baltimore and many other places. ... I'm going to stick with the two restaurants I have now. I have a restaurant concept I've been working on, but I have to make sure I get Good Stuff's expansion up on its feet, and then allow myself the time to buckle down on a new concept. I've been thinking about a bistro and a Vietnamese concept in the D.C. area because we like it there.
Were you sad to see Spike go home?