And then there were two. Last night Antonia Lofaso was eliminated from “Top Chef: All-Stars,” leaving Richard Blais and Mike Isabella to duke it out in next week’s finale. On a call Thursday, Antonia discussed her heartbreak over leaving the competition and why her cousin Mike rubbed her the wrong way.
On where she watched her elimination: I watched it last night with Zea, my daughter, my father, and my sixteen-year-old brother. My brother couldn’t have cares less. He was on his iPad the entire time, like, “Wait. What just happened?” My dad just cried over and over again. I felt like I actually had to be more supportive to him than I was able to be for myself. I kept being like, “Daddy, it’s okay.” I definitely cried at the end. It does bring back a whole array of emotions. The investment…I’m getting choked up now. Winning this season, I just wanted it really badly. I think I wanted it more desperately than the first time. I really felt like it was more attainable than before because I’m a stronger competitor now. I was heartbroken. I came home this time and was in my bedroom the entire week, full of self-deprecation. This morning I woke up and felt a little bit more healed.
On being out of commission when she came home: I came home from the Bahamas and I was upset, but I gave myself a time frame. I had a couple days off before I went back to work, but then I would just come home and climb into bed. I didn’t want to do much. I think everybody also knows that you’re not really allowed to talk about it, so not a lot of people asked about it, which was great.
On forgetting about the envelope at the end: The funny thing was, we actually all forgot about the envelope when we were done cooking. We were also surprised that Judges’ Table had started right there.
On going head to head against Mike Isabella: The truth of the matter is, it is kind of like the best test of us as chefs. That’s why I love this show, and why I loved being on it so much, because it pushes you in a way that you are never pushed in your life. How were we able through all that stress and anxiety, to go back into the kitchen and keep cooking? We just do. Coming out of it, win or lose, I’m a better person for it. “Top Chef” is like therapy. It’s one of the most amazing, unique experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life and I’ve been lucky enough to have it twice.
On whether she had a mock or real rivalry with her cousin Mike: Nothing about the show is mock! Everything that happens on the show, I don’t care what anybody else says about editing or whatever – nothing on the show is mock. Whatever you say actually happens – it’s true. I could not figure out for the life of me why this man annoyed me as much as he did. When I found out we were distantly related somehow, it actually made more sense to me – why he bugs me the way he does. I have two brothers, and they have that tendency to be able to get under your skin and annoy you. There was something about Mike from the very beginning, where he would say and do things that would just irk me. Make no mistake, he’s extremely antagonistic. He wouldn’t do it to other people. He would do it smally [sic] to other people, but he would do it to me more than anybody else, for sure.
On being disappointed about not making it into the final two: At the end, whatever is gonna happen is gonna happen. By then there was so much resolve about the dish that I did. If the judges felt his dish was one point above mine, then so be it. Do I disagree? One hundred percent. I thought that between my dish and his dish…I mean it was a dish that was overly flavorful versus a dish that was underly [sic] seasoned. I didn’t taste his, but those were all the comments that we got at Judges’ Table. My dish was overly powerful while his dish was underwhelming. It was kind of hard to watch Wolfgang [Puck] say that he would remember my dish the next day, but then I didn’t win. They were hard comments to watch.
On how she’s benefited professionally from the show: There’s been so much positive reinforcement about who I am as a chef that it’s opened up so many doors of opportunity. There are so many things that I’ve been able to do based on this show. I’m overwhelmed with people who want to do business with me. It’s a pretty exciting place to be.
On what she’s doing now: Right now I’m concentrating on a book that I’m working on for the working parent. It’s a lifestyle book of being able to help and teach parents how to create memories around food. In my household, where I grew – and both of my parents worked – sitting around the dinner table was an important thing we did at our house. Through doing that we created so many beautiful memories. At the end of the day I’m a mom and I’m a provider in my home and a lot of what I do is work, and at the same time, I want to have those experiences with my daughter and make sure that there’s a home cooked meal and we share those memories over food. I’ve also asked other celebrity single moms to contribute their dishes to the book.
On whether she’d do TV again: Absolutely. I’ve had a lot of offers to do TV. It needs to be something that fits me. TLC offered me a couple of shows, but it didn’t feel right. It needs to be something that makes sense with me and is about who I am. I think that’s the biggest thing in reality television – people have to believe you. Otherwise it just doesn’t sell. Honestly at this point I’m like the movie “Yes Man.” I just say yes and see what opens up.