Top Chef, Jeff

Bravo Photo: Michael Lavine

An unsensational seviche sent Southern boy Jeff McInnis back to the beach at the end of last night's episode of Top Chef.

I caught up with Jeff earlier today on Florida's South Beach, where he's chef de cuisine at the Ritz-Carlton's DiLido Beach Club, to get the lowdown on his elimination. Like a lot of fans, he remains baffled by the judges' decision, and he also reveals why he thinks the kitchen wasn't the only place where things got hot and steamy for Hosea and Leah.

So, what was the first thing that went through you mind when Padma told you to pack your knives?
Not much. I kind of had a sensation of the whole thing. I kind of had this eerie, clairvoyant feeling all day that something wasn’t right.

You definitely think you should have stayed, right?
Of course.

Why?
Well, there wasn’t a whole lot of critique on my dish. And that’s the only thing that I can’t sleep about. If Tom had said, “Your dish had too much salt in it,” or “Your dish didn’t have enough salt in it,” or "Your dish was sweet” or “sour” or “bitter” or “too cold,” then I would have some critique to go on...The only critiquing he said was that [the seviche] was a watered-down version—which is funny, because I didn’t even use any water. It was very vague...Whereas, for Fabio, they were like, “Dude, you put cheddar cheese on game. The dressing was way too much.” And they said to Stefan, “Your salad tasted awful, and you didn’t have enough full flavor, you didn’t have enough spice.” Those are hard-core critiques that I didn’t get.

What was your take on Hosea and Leah's love affair, so to speak?
I think they just forgot there were cameras around [laughs]. Be realistic. We’re all adults here. People have a few drinks and they wind up kissing each other. I knew the cameras weren’t on me, and Hosea and I would go make out from time to time [laughs]. But, seriously, he made a mistake. People make mistakes...It’s their lives, and I think that they both regret that that’s what wound up being focused on. America’s now focused on them and how they cheated on their boyfriends and girlfriends. Nobody was a homewrecker or anything.

So you think it was kind of lighthearted, drunken fun?
It's like, have you ever been to jail? On this show, you’re locked up for six weeks, and I mean, Leah’s not ugly. They had a spark between them, and, naturally, something’s bound to happen.

—Additional reporting by Dahvi Shira

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