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'Top Chef All-Stars' Eliminated Chef: 'I Wasn't Going Out Without a Fight'

by Allison Waldman, posted Mar 17th 2011 5:00PM
top_chef_all-stars_2011_logo_bravoThe competition couldn't have been any tighter on the final four episode of 'Top Chef All-Stars.' With just four chefs remaining, two men and two women, all the chefs were keenly aware of how the slightest misstep could cost them.

As previous 'Top Chef' participants, they were cognizant that while getting to the final four was a major achievement ... nobody wanted to get that far only to be sent home.

The chef who was sent packing had actually done quite well. It was hardly a major faux pas that did in the chef. In fact, it was a very basic slip up ... something that might have sunk any one of the other chefs just as easily.

tiffany_darry_top_chef_all-stars_bravo_2011Tiffany Derry, the 'don't mess with Texas' standout chef from season 7, was the first of the final four to be ousted. Tiffany, a self-taught culinary wiz, lost out in a nip and tuck competition. If only her conch chowder had been piping hot, or a little less sweet ...

In her exit interview, Tiffany was as gracious on the phone as she was on the show. She's looking forward to the next chapter in her life, her new restaurant called Private Social, and she was happy with her experience on 'Top Chef.'

For more on her thoughts about cooking, snorkeling and the snarky boys in the house, read on.

TV Squad: Was it difficult to do back to back seasons?
Tiffany Derry: It was difficult, I can't say it wasn't. It was good in the beginning, because I had momentum, but then you get tired. Plus I lost my grandfather just two days before the show began. It's a lot going on and you're away from family, you're thinking about your restaurant ... There are a lot of other things that go into it.

What was it like to go conch diving?
It was amazing. Diving into that water and it was hot outside, white sand, blue water. I had never done snorkeling before. ... It was so much fun. It felt like I was on vacation. That was my favorite challenge by far.

Do you regret mixing in the cold ceviche?
I don't because that wasn't the problem. To me that's not strange. You eat a black bean soup with cool pico de gallo; you have certain soups that you serve with a dollop of crème fresh. So the idea of my cold topping wasn't strange to me. I just think that the soup should have been served tableside. It was pretty chilly outside; the winds began to blow right before I plated. Those were the issues. I should have waited. I think I got a little antsy. I should have planned it a little better.

Did Carla Hall leaving have any impact on your last performances?
Don't get me wrong, I was not happy to see Carla go, but I do understand that it is a competition. It's what I signed up for. I think I went into the Quickfire with the attitude that I wasn't going go out without a fight. I had to step it up. I had to do something great. Then we won the Quickfire.

In the Elimination Challenge, they told us in the previous show to do something that reflected the island, that was influenced by the island. I took that to heart and I think I really did a good dish. I enjoyed the dish. It just wasn't the temperature it should have been.

As the shows have gone on, the male chefs have seemed more snarky, is that how you saw it?
That's true. You could definitely feel that in the house. It was kind of like they were the guys and they were ready for this, while we weren't as serious. Certain people didn't feel that I was a competitor. If I didn't want to compete, I wouldn't have been there. Maybe I don't curse everybody out, I don't talk smack, but I was definitely there to do the best I could do. That being said, I don't think it's the end of the world if something doesn't happen the way I want it to.

What did you think was the most surprising elimination to you?
Jen Carroll would have to be the one. I remember going, 'Oh!' The rumor was that they would never send her home. Even if her dish was the worst, they weren't going to send Jen Carroll home. Then they did and proved that they weren't playing.

Were you intimidated by your fellow competitors who had experience working with big name chefs?
Definitely. It was one of those things when I was younger, I wanted to work for a big name chef, but I never really got the opportunity. Or I would have had to move and I had other things going on, so it wasn't feasible at the time. I definitely felt a little bit of that when I saw this one was James Beard award winner. You know? There was a bit of that going on.

How do you feel about the level of the challenges this season compared to your season?
As much as I loved season 7, the challenges in this season were quite difficult. But I thought they were great.

Which of the other chefs did you find most helpful to you during the competition?
The one who I learned the most from was probably Richard Blais. He is full of information that he teaches. I remember one day, we were in the stew room and Carla was complimenting him for his fried food, and he told her how he did it. He opens up and tells you information. He's very open. I learned a lot from him. I'm not the molecular girl, but I am interested now in trying a few things and seeing what happens. Carla was my favorite as far as easy to talk to and being with, so we really did lean on each other.

Who are you rooting for to win?
I'm rooting for Richard and Antonia. She does everything well. You haven't seen enough of her and she doesn't get enough credit. She's so consistent. She's just a really solid cook. She may not be as inventive as Richard, which a part of me likes. I like the idea that she's basic. Richard just comes up with so many different things. He can take one ingredient and find a hundred different things to do with it. That's the way his mind works. He's always trying to slow his mind down so he can focus on things. That's his battle. I really would like Richard or Antonia to win.

What's it been like becoming part of the 'Top Chef' family?
I believe it's a strong bond. It's brought a lot of different chefs together, even chefs who aren't on the show, they have a lot of respect for us and I know I have a lot of respect for anybody who works in a kitchen day in and day out. This has been something good for me and I'm happy that I did it and I know that there are relationships that I will have a strong hold with throughout my life.

What are you plans now that the competition is over?
I am building a restaurant in Dallas called Private Social, that's kind of my baby. And I'm working on a lot of other projects. I'm touring a little bit. I'm having a lot of fun just doing what I'm doing.

Watch 'Top Chef All-Stars' every Wednesday at 10 PM ET on Bravo.

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Antoinette Bloyd

Very nice and fantastic essay to read. Enjoyed reading. Thanks for sharing.

March 18 2011 at 4:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fantastic article! I truly love how it is easy on my eyes and the info are well written. I am wondering how I can be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which should do the trick! Have a nice day!http://www.gucciretailmart.com

March 17 2011 at 10:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Tiffany = We are very proud of you and glad you are staying in Dallas !!

Will be looking out for the new place !!

March 17 2011 at 9:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Foodie Gossip

So sad to see Tiffany Derry depart, though it was a bit expected. Kick me for saying it, but I think Mike Isabella is going to take home the title. His game is totally on: http://foodiegossip.blogspot.com/2011/03/top-chef-all-stars-says-farewell-to.html

March 17 2011 at 5:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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