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Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Top Chef All-Star" Jamie: "I didn't like how I was being portrayed"

What is it about reality shows that get us so personally involved in them?

Last night, I was actually queasy as I waited for Padma to render the judges’ verdict on “Top Chef All-Stars.” Why? Because my guy Blais was in the bottom group and appeared to be in real trouble.

You should NEVER listen to Marcel, Blais. Never, ever…

Warning: Stop reading if you have not yet seen last night’s episode of “Top Chef: All-Stars.”

But thankfully, the judges eliminated Tiffani and the person who most needed to go—Jamie.

Jamie’s attitude had gone considerably downhill over the past few weeks. She appeared to be dodging the challenges and acting like she didn’t even want to be there. The downfall started when she went to the hospital to get stitches for her cut finger. Her attitude about leaving and returning seemed like she didn’t even care and when she only came back with two stitches, she was roundly criticized by her fellow cheftestants.

Then, in the US Open Elimination Challenge, Jamie refused to serve her dish to the judges because her peas weren’t done yet and then seemed to hide during the rest of the challenge to avoid having to serve her dish (which she did).

Today, I participated in a media conference call with Jamie and for those of you who already don’t like her, what she had to say is not going to change your mind any. She was highly critical of the way she was portrayed on the show and played the editing victim card every time she could.

For the record, I’m not saying she wasn’t right in her assessment. I’m just telling you what went down…

“I am exactly the same person I was the first time [in season five],” she told us. “Unfortunately there was a lot that wasn’t shown because of editing. I kind of stopped watching because I didn’t like how I was being portrayed.”

When we got to talk to Jamie this afternoon, it was clear that she had already answered a lot of the same questions several times already and it was starting to wear a little thin. Especially when talking about cutting her finger.

“When I cut my finger it was 5 o’clock in the morning. I had only slept for 45 minutes in two days. The medic said, ‘You need stitches.’ She gave me no other options.” Because she hadn’t had much sleep and because she’d never been to the hospital, she freaked out. “I was like, ‘oh my god, my finger’s going to fall off.’”

She told us that she doesn’t regret going to the hospital because she can still use her finger on a daily basis.

Another hot button issue for her was the tennis challenge. She had said earlier in the call that she shouldn’t have listened to some of her teammates and went ahead and used canned peas during the tennis challenge. So, I asked her if one of those teammates was Angelo and she interrupted me to exclaim that yes, it was—Angelo and Tiffani, the same people that screwed up Spike’s dish. They talked her out of it because they said it was All-Stars and canned wouldn’t cut it.

“I said to them [on camera] that I wouldn’t have enough time to get them done, but they didn’t show it. It’s a competition. I should’ve known better.” Jamie was most frustrated by the fact that it looked like she didn’t cook, but there were spectators who came to eat and when they arrived, the peas were perfect.

“That dish is delicious. The people that came through loved it. To have it edited that I didn’t cook at all was a bummer.”

When I asked her about Angelo always having his hands in peoples’ dishes, she said it was absolutely true. “I watched him do it with Spike. He tried to do it with me. That’s just him…It’s definitely a mind game. That’s why they put you in a house together. That’s why you have no free thought of your own. [When you’re in the bottom] it’s hard to get out of that hole.”

Jamie found herself in that hole last night along with her teammate Antonia. The judges criticized Antonia for not helping Jamie’s dish, but Jamie said that wouldn’t have mattered. “She didn’t think there was anything wrong with my dish. I didn’t think there was anything wrong. Antonia and I are really good friends. I apologized to her. I felt bad because I dragged her down to the bottom.”

Jamie thought it was a little strange that two people from her team went home when Fabio, Blais and Marcel only cooked one dish. “There was no accountability for their dish over there.” Jamie thought either Marcel or Fabio would go home since Blais cooked the fish and the judges thought it was perfect.

When someone asked Jamie for her prediction of a winner, she answered, “Watch out for Richard Blais and Antonia.”

I would watch out for Carla. The chefs totally underestimate her.

Next week, it’s “Restaurant Wars” with the return of Anthony Bourdain…

Is it Wednesday yet?

“Top Chef All-Stars” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo…
Photo Credit: Giovanni Rufino/Bravo