Ash Fulk, Angelo Sosa and Spike Mendelsohn, in the first of four 2014 Top Chefs at Sea, are entertaining guests of the Celebrity Summit this week with Quickfire challenges, private cooking classes and lots of good-natured ribbing including throwing potatoes and drawing whipped cream mustaches on each other's cardboard cut-outs.
Here's our first Q&A with these Top Chef bad boys:
Q: How much time do you really have on the show when you're given a challenge. It looks like 5 seconds, but this is TV?
Spike: The show is real-time. It's the only reality show that's actual reality. What you see is the actual time we're given.
Angelo: We have no time to think. It's all done without thinking.
Q: What's it like in the Stew Room? And how much time do you spend there?
Ash: It's surprising what you can do with plastic wrap.
Q: What was your most memorable event on the show?
Ash: For me, it was cooking for 300 soldiers who were going off to Iraq.
Q: Spike, is that your real name?
Spike: My real name is Evangelos. It's Greek.
Q: How did you get on Top Chef?
Spike: My family has been in the restaurant business in Montreal so I grew up washing dishes, busing tables. So basically, I'm a dishwasher who knows some things. Oh, and by the way, I'm not really wasted. The ship is just rocking.
Q: And how did Top Chef change your life?
Even though I've been kicked off every reality show I've ever been on, Top Chef opened doors. I now have seven restaurants. And my show, Midnight Feast, debuts soon on FYI. I get to be a judge. It's a revenge show.
Q: What advice do you have for a person who is about to open a restaurant?
Spike: Don't do it.
Q: What's your philosophy on food and cooking?
Angelo: Cooking is the art of seduction. It's about engaging all the senses, stimulating the palette. I do that with what I like to call the Holy Trinity. There's always three dimensions to every dish: sweet, sour and salty, for example.
Q: What's the role of a sous chef?
Angelo: Sous chefs are very important. They give us someone to blame.
Q: How do you pick ingredients?
Angelo: Nature tells us everything we need to know. I believe in simplicity. Our job as chefs is simply learning to extract the best of what God gives us.
Q: Is it true you were dancing last night at the nightclub without your shirt?