Ilan Hall: The _Heeb_ Interview

By Shira Levine

Stephanie Izard made culinary history as the first woman to nab the Top Chef title on Bravo’s Season Four finale last night. Last Friday, we caught up withTop Chef‘s first Jewish winner, Season Two’s Ilan Hall, at the James Beard Foundation & Bon Appétit Chef Night’s Out afterparty.

What have you been up to since Season Two?

I just moved to Los Angeles. I’m working on an opening. I’m actually working on two projects. One of them is a little more serious in East Hollywood.

Momofuku’s David Chang just told me Top Chef isn’t real cooking and that it’s just TV.

Ha! He’s never been there. He doesn’t know. That’s it.

Some people get really stressed watching Top Chef. Do you?

Absolutely not. I wasn’t even stressed out on the show, really. It was more like camp, I felt.

Where did you go to camp?

French Woods Festival of the Arts Performing Arts in Hancock, New York. It was a really Jewish performing arts camp.

Top Chef is like Jewish sleep-away camp?

Well, you’re like locked up with people that you are similar to, but not the same. You have the same interests. You have no rights. You’re not allowed to phone home. It’s the same thing.

I guess just without all the late night hookups?

No. Not there. There was much more of that at summer camp. But I’m a bad Jew. I’m a terrible Jew.

Well you went to Jewish camp at least.

It just happened to be that mostly Jews went there. It wasn’t like a Jewish…the owner was Jewish. Most of the kids were Jewish.

When you are on Top Chef you fabricate all those fantastic meats. Is it disappointing when someone orders kosher or vegetarian?

Not at all. I actually love to eat more vegetarian stuff, recently. Especially living in California, the produce is so amazing. I do lots of raw stuff, actually. That’s not really good to say. I eat a lot of raw cauliflower. Raw garlic is really great.

What’s your breakfast of champions?

If I want to have a good productive day I will eat lots of whole grains, cereal and lots of tofu. It’s really kind of lame and California, hippy dippy bullshit, you know. I like Kashi and All Bran.

And your champion hangover meal?

Awww bacon! Bacon and sunnyside-up eggs. Lots of sea salt.

You’re definitely not kosher.

No, not at all. My grandmother eats bacon. I actually got my grandmother to stop keeping kosher for Passover about a year ago. I just told her that it was ridiculous if she doesn’t believe in that crap so she stopped.

What do you think?

About The Author

Josh became an editor-at-large after accruing exorbitant legal fees as the publisher of Heeb in his efforts to trademark the word "irreverent." Follow him on Twitter @joshuaneuman.

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This will close in 0 seconds