Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Reality Check With ... Clay Bowen (Bravo's "Top Chef")

Clay Bowen says he is just a good ol’ boy from Southern Mississippi. Not a culinary graduate, Clay has learned all his skills from working his way up in various kitchens and has no doubt he has an innate talent. He says it is about time the South gets represented and he wants to be the one to do it. It's never easy to be the first one to go on a reality show but Clay sits down with RealityCheckByGina to discuss his experience on Bravo's Top Chef.

RC: Tell us a little bit about your cooking background.
Clay: I actually started cooking when I was 18 before going into college. I start cooking at an italian deli & eventually at City Grocery, which is fine dining restaurant in Mississippi. I worked my way up the ladder & eventually became a sous chef at University Club in Santa Barbara.

RC: There are a lot of cooking shows out there. What drew you to Top Chef?
Clay: I had seen the previous seasons & thought, "I can do that!" I tried out at the open call in L.A. & kept getting called back for interviews. I liked the situations the chefs were put in & the spontaneity of the show. There was such intense competition & I really liked the caliber of the contestants & judges.

RC: How did you feel you stacked up against your competition?
Clay: I feel I stacked up just fine & I still stack up. I think I stack up 100%.

RC: In the surf & turf challenge, you chose wild boar & scorpion fish to work with. What was your initial reaction to those ingredients?
Clay: I wasn't sweatin' the wild boar, I had worked with it before. I hadn't worked with scorpion fish but I've worked with enough fish & it was fine.

RC: Howie doesn't get his full dish plated & Dale chooses ingredients he's never tasted. Were you surprised you were the one to go home?
Clay: In all honesty, yeah. Yeah, I was. I was floored. I read the rules & that's all I'm gonna say.

RC: Did you feel the judges were too hard on you?
Clay: That's their job to be judgemental - they're judges! I know it sounds childish but ... sticks & stones, you know? They're just words.

RC: You didn't get to stay very long but did you have the time to establish relationships?
Clay: Yeah, very much so. It was amazing how well I got along with everyone.

RC: What chefs impress you? Who should we keep our eye on this season?
Clay: Hung seems to be the one to keep his eye on. My boy Brian seems to be bringin' it too even though he was in the bottom 4 last week.

RC: What have you been doing since you got home?
Clay: I've been right back to work. It's our busy time now, starting right when I got off the show. I have some business endeavors back home. I'm going to be headed there after Christmas.

RC: What's the reaction been like from your family & friends since you've been on the show?
Clay: Nothin' but full support ... and outrage! Let's just say Howie shouldn't go to Mississippi anytime soon! I like the guy but ... he shouldn't go to Mississippi.

A new episode of Top Chef airs tonight on Bravo at 10pm EST
Get your Top Chef links while they're hot at!


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