For those of you who have been living under a skillet, the new season of Top Chef premieres tonight (8 p.m. on Bravo). And, guess what? There’s a cheftestant from Dallas! Do you know what that means? Episode recaps! Every week! Right here! But first, we need to get to know our newest reality star. SideDishers, meet Tiffany Derry, executive chef at Go Fish Ocean Club two years and running. She took time from her busy schedule to answer a few of my toughest questions. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t tell me who wins. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see for ourselves. See you guys back here tomorrow to discuss the premiere.
Jump for the Q&A.
HOMETOWN: Beaumont, TX
CULINARY STYLE: New American cuisine with soul influence
EXPERIENCE: Studied at the Art Institute of Houston; trained in Italian and seafood restaurants in Houston; Executive Chef at Go Fish Ocean Club
MARITAL STATUS: Engaged (she’s getting married next month!)
KC: What is your favorite dish?
TD: It changes, but right now I’m in love with escolar, a buttery white fish.
KC: What is your favorite restaurant in Dallas? (besides Go Fish)
TD: It’s this Thai restaurant called Zense in Valley Ranch (a neighborhood spot). It’s very small and family-owned. They have the best Pad Thai that I have ever tasted.
KC: What is your favorite cocktail?
TD: One of my favorite cocktails is pisco sour. I love tart and sour things with a touch of sugar. Plus, the frothiness of the whites are so luring. It reminds a little of Lemonhead candy (a grown folks version).
KC: What do you like to do when you aren’t cooking?
TD: Go to restaurants and eat out with friends and family. I also love to play sports like golf, tennis, volleyball, and soccer.
KC: If you weren’t a chef, what do you think you would be?
TD: I would probably be a coach/teacher.
KC: What ingredients can you not live without?
TD: I have to have kosher salt. Foods are not the same without good seasoning – it elevates everything. But it can also kill it if you are not careful to find a balance of flavor.
KC: How did you prepare for the show?
TD: I just started timing myself at the restaurant so I’d know how long it takes to do certain things. I also scheduled myself to work stations more so I could practice things my sous chefs normally do.
KC: What was the best part of competing on Top Chef?
TD: It was a life changing experience for me. It brought me back to that stage when I started culinary school. I just immersed myself in the food and cooked my heart out.
KC: What was your biggest challenge?
TD: The time limits. You might have 30 minutes or four hours to cook. When you’re in your restaurant things are usually cut and ready. It’s small things like that that get you. I just made sure to pace myself and get things done.