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Top Chef's Jamie: Felled by Salty Celery Stalk

Top Chef, Jamie Bravo Photo: Michael Lavine

Who would have ever thought that celery could bring down a contestant on Top Chef?

But that's exactly what happened last night. Jamie was booted from the kitchen because the celery in her fish dish was too salty. Tom Colicchio went so far as to deem it "a salt lick."

I caught up with Jamie earlier today from San Francisco, where she is the executive chef at Absinthe. We talked toaster ovens, why she doesn't like replacement judge Toby Young and, of course, that foul-tasting celery.

Did you watch the show last night?
I didn't. I was working and then I came home and watched American Idol, which is more important to me.

More important than Top Chef?
It's weird to watch yourself on TV. And I fell asleep. It's not like I didn't want to watch it.

Best part of being on the show?
I think a lot of meeting the people I got to meet and work with…But I think some of the challenges were a little bit outlandish, like the Foo Fighters one, when we had to go up to Rochester, which is eight hours away from New York City, and cook in toaster ovens. That's kind of ridiculous.

On last night's show, you said you weren't inspired by Eric Ripert (chef and owner of New York's Le Bernardin, considered one of the top seafood restaurants in the world) or inspired by his dishes.
It's not that I wasn't impressed or inspired by Eric Ripert. It's totally taken out of context in the editing. I think he's an amazing chef. I have his cookbooks. I totally respect him. I was not impressed with the dish that I had to make. That's what it was…The dish that I got stuck with was, I think, the lamest out of the six. I mean, braised celery? There's nothing really exciting about braised celery.

Talking about that celery, it came down to celery in the end.
I went home for celery. [Laughs.] I didn't think it would come down to that…It is what it is. It's not the end of the world.

Who was your favorite judge?
Gail, because I thought she was the fairest and the most honest.

What do you think of Toby Young?
He was pretty arrogant. I keep calling him the Simon Cowell of Top Chef. I really think he was put on just to make ridiculous comments.

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