But, of course, many of you won't have time or patience to listen to the whole podcast. So I'm also blogging some of the choice, juiciest bits. For background, of course, Hopcraft was eliminated in the eighth episode on an ill-advised flank steak. He's the executive chef at Seablue, a Michael Mina restaurant within spitting distance at MGM Grand of what earlier this year was renamed Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak. It was just Craftsteak, but Top Chef's top judge Colicchio is now such a celeb he's in a Diet Coke ad.
That's the background. Here's the good stuff about Colicchio, being robbed, the pea puree mystery, Eric Ripert, cooking in a manure pasture, that Emmy and much more.
Friess: Has Tom Colicchio ever been in here?
Hopcraft: As long as I’ve been the chef, he’s never come and dined here.
Friess: Oh really.
Hopcraft: Yeah, yeah. And I will say I’m thinking really hard, I’ve never seen Tom Colicchio in this hotel. And you can put that.
Friess: You’re away for how long?
Hopcraft: Five weeks.
Friess: Five weeks. It’s always so funny when you’re watching these reality shows and the second person gets kicked off and everybody starts crying and you’ve known them for like…
Hopcraft: ...Two days.
Friess: …two days, and you’re saying, "Oh, I’ll miss you, I’m never going to forget you."
Hopcraft: That’s a good point, and I get how ridiculous that does look, but when you’re forced into that situation, you start to build a very quick bond with these people because you’re basically being carried around in a shoebox and then the shoebox is opened up and there are people in your shoebox all of a sudden and you become friends with them really quickly because it’s like, "Oh, OK, these are the people I get to talk to, great." You do make quick bonds and quick likes and dislikes. It’s not like a normal situation where it's like, "OK, I’ve just met this guy, I’ve known them for two days but in between I’ve gone home, I’ve talked to my wife and my kids. I’ve had my life away from it." There’s no life away from it. It’s so magnified that there is that kind of comraderie where it’s like, "Oh no, the guy that I got along with best is now leaving." That would bring you to tears because then you realize it’s five weeks of you dealing with the rest of the assholes who are left, maybe.
Friess: Did that happen?
Hopcraft: For me, no. I honestly got along well with pretty much everybody. There were some people I liked more than others. The people I roomed with were the people I got along best with, which was Angelo, Timothy and Alex.
Friess: The pea puree guy!
Hopcraft: Yeah, the pea puree thief.
Friess: So what happened?
Hopcraft: The pea puree mystery! Well, he didn’t steal it. He made his own pea puree and Ed lost his pea puree.
Friess: How do you lose pea puree?