Now how did your appearance on Top Chef come about? You didn't have enough going on?
I did it for publicity because that's what my field has become now. I'm a seasoned chef. Someone pushed me into it.
Meaning, you didn't submit a tape?
I didn't have to sit with the regular people. They pursued me. They asked me why I wanted to be on the show and I said, "I don't know." I thought, they're not going to pick me, so whatever.
And what did the owners of Water Club say when they found out you were leaving right before opening?
I guess it became a bonus for them.
What was the toughest part of being on the show?
Knowing I was away from my family--five weeks with extremely limited contact. My kids are little. They're my life. Right off the bat I thought, there's no way I'm going. But more than one person talked me into it.
When I got selected, I didn't even process it. After I got the call, someone said, "Aren't you going to call Frank?" I went into a room and started to cry. But then I had to put it in perspective. It's an opportunity. [I decided] go with this and see what you can get out of it.
And do you think you'll get out of it what you wanted?
I just want to be successful and respected in my field. It's not about getting my face on TV as much as providing for my family. You know, money to keep you from worrying.
In retrospect, would you do it again?
I'm not commenting on "in retrospect" right now. But I'll tell you I learned that I pull strength from my family. Having them nearby is important to me.
Was going through that tougher than opening Talula?
We were married and we both quit our jobs and we were trying to open [that] restaurant. We lost our investors after 9/11 and I'm pregnant. Here you go! We just kind of adjusted to what was needed. Do we seek out craziness in our lives? Quite possibly.
With all your goings on, what's the one thing you are most proud of?
My kids are the best things I've accomplished so far.
Okay, so onto more general stuff. Who is the most impressive celebrity or person who makes you most nervous to cook?
I was pretty excited to cook for the Beastie Boys. While I was at Wish there were quite a few celebrities that came in. They were really cool. During the MTV Awards their manager called up and was asking about all these vegetarian things because Mike D was a vegetarian. I'm still hoping John Travolta will someday stop into one of my establishments because I'm a big fan.
What advice would you give a new chef?
Take your time and get your experience. There's no need to be a chef right away. Stay there at least a year. Keep your work ethic and get a tough skin.
What five words would you use to describe your food?