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Top Chef, Carla, Stefan

Bravo Photo: Michael Lavine

It was Stefan's competition to lose last night during the final challenge on Top Chef.

And that he did.

But don't tell him that. I caught up with the self-assured Finnish chef to talk about why he thinks he's the real Top Chef and why he wants to date host Padma Lakshmi. Plus, find out if Carla blames Casey for losing the competition.

Stefan, everyone thought you were going to win.
[Laughs] Didn't I win? Didn't I?

Well, you didn't get the $100,000.
You tell me. You watched the show last night, right?

If it comes down to who is the best chef, it should have been you.
There you go.

Did you like how you were portrayed on the show? People thought you were quite, well, self-confident.
How could you complain on the show about how I am portrayed? I am who I am. I am exactly the person you see on TV. But people didn’t see the sweet side of me. I shook everybody’s hand when they left. I kissed everybody good-bye.

How did you know what to do with alligator?
You know, I don’t know. I just made a chowder—a soup. It is what it is. What are you going to do? You have no choice, you know? Hosea passed me the s--t stick, and I took the s--t stick and made something out of it.

What’s the best part about doing the show?
The best part? I got to meet Padma.

Oh? Tell me more about that.
Padma’s a wonderful woman, let me tell you. And she’s as beautiful as she looks on TV. Very smart. Cool chick. Just a good, overall woman.

I’ve actually met her a few times, and I tell her if I were straight, she would be my girlfriend.
She would?

Oh my god, she’s, like, amazing.
Then turn straight, buddy!

[Laughs] So, have you asked her out?
I cannot ask her out, let me tell you. Padma has so many influential people around her, I will never get close to Padma. But she’s a very beautiful woman. She’s very sexy, and who doesn’t love Padma? I think she’s hot.

Do you want your own TV show?
You know what? I’d love my own TV show, but it’s going to be something with my character. I don’t beat around the bush. If I get a show, I want a show like Kitchen Nightmares. No bulls--t, no crap.

Carla should have stuck with what she does best.

But in the finale, the perky Washington, D.C. caterer followed former cheftestant Casey's advice to prepare a sous-vide New York strip steak and a cheese dessert—neither of which turned out well for her. "I definitely knew it wasn't my best," she told me earlier today. "Looking back, I would have definitely done things differently."

So does Carla blame Casey for her loss? Read on to find out.

Are you glad it’s over?
I’m glad I don’t have to keep any secrets.

How hard is it to keep those secrets?
A confidentiality clause with a million dollars attached will definitely shut you up. And I don’t have a million dollars.

Yeah, there's a lot of talk and Internet buzz this morning that you lost because of Casey, that you shouldn't haven't listened to her. Do you agree?
I really feel badly for her, because, you know, it did not even occur to me to blame her in any way. I definitely take responsibility for everything that we did, and she helped me in many ways. But at the time, I was thinking, you know, why not? Go big or go home. But the win for me was to have the love and that 65 percent of the people were pulling for me. It’s a different kind of a prize.

You don't have your own restaurant or work at one, but have a catering company. Have any restaurants come to you and said, “Hey, come work here or be guest chef for us."
Actually, there have been. There’s been a couple. I wouldn’t mind doing that. A long time ago, I said, I want to have a restaurant called Carla’s Attitude: You’ll eat what I want you to have.

Is Stefan as self-confident or egotistical as he came off on the show?
I never thought of him as being egotistical. I think I thought of him as being confident. I thought of him as being a person who assesses what the challenge is and approaches it very mentally. And so he looks at the competition, he feels them out, and he sees where he can get in, to win. And it’s not a bad thing. It’s very much like the art of war.

Were you chuckling a little bit when Hosea was able to give Stefan the alligator? I was.
[Laughs] Of course! That was fun, dude. But you know what? He pulled it off. And we were all saying, "Bravo, Stefan, bravo"—or at least, I was.

Is there something to be said about the idea that really, the Top Chef should be the person who did the best this season, rather than just the one final elimination?
I’m going to say no to that question. I think everybody hopes, going into the finals, that they could possibly win. Stefan had won most of the challenges, so if that was the case we wouldn’t need the finals because he’s already won.