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It was a battle of the ceviches for this week's axed cheftestant, Jeff McInnis, during Top Chef's Super Bowl Showdown. But should he have been the one who left? caught up with the Miami chef to find out who he thought should have gone home in his place and why he thought his all-star competitor basically made shrimp nachos — not ceviche. What did you think of the judges' comments about your dish?
Jeff McInnis: I never got any direct critique except that it was a watered-down version, which I don't know what that means because I never used any water. I never got "Make it hotter or colder, saltier or sweeter," so I don't know what I could have done to change it. It was a good dish, and I stand by it. I actually have the exact dish on my menu and people love it. I sold 10 of them today. But if I could go back, I would have done something totally different. Do you think Fabio should have gone home over you?
Jeff: Sure. He blasted a piece of meat. That's something a chef can put their finger on and say, "This is overcooked — I meant to do it medium-rare and I did it well-done." He committed a sin. In the Bible, it says you don't do this. Whereas I committed a sin and it says it's not law, but something the judiciary system has to judge over. How did you feel about your competitor Josie's ceviche dish?
Jeff: Ceviche is a chilled seafood dish where the seafood is cooked in a citrus. I've never seen it with black beans like that. The dish was hot and had these plantain chips. It's like you're were in Mexico having shrimp nachos. I think if she were to have thrown some cheddar cheese on it and called it that, the outcome would have been the same. Why did you always feel the need to make your dishes so complex?
Jeff: I've never taken the simple road. I make all my own stuff — it's just the way I do it. This is Top Chef, it's not where you go to the cupboard and scoop something out and plate it. That's just not me. Even if I wasn't on the show, I just don't do that. In my kitchen, we don't have a lot of canned ingredients. Like for shrimp cocktail — no one really makes their cocktail sauce from scratch, they use canned chili paste. I take six different chilies and roast them from scratch. It's just what I've always done. Seems as though the judges don't seem to take that into account.
Jeff: I guess not. The judges aren't in there the whole time and that's one thing I do regret. It's all about the final product. It's like the ice cream scooped from a container tastes really good against that homemade one that tastes pretty good. But you know what, I don't think I could bow down and change. Just because there's a can opener and can there, I think I'd wind up making it from scratch anyways. Any big plans for the Super Bowl?
Jeff: Just cooking at my restaurant, DiLido Beach Club. We'll probably will have a big-screen TV there and have the wings, beer, ribs, burgers — but our ribs will be Moroccan BBQ with a little spice to them, and the wings are going to have a little apricot glaze. We're going to put our own Mediterranean twist on them.