The oldest contestant on Bravo's Top Chef and perhaps the most controversial chef this season, John Tesar did not "pack up his knives and go" without a fight. This past week, the Dallas-based chef who recently opened Spoon Bar & Kitchen (named for the only utensil Tesar believes you can't cook without) in the area, fell victim to the show's "risotto curse" which has sent chefs who attempt the Italian standby home season after season. Then, unlike most episodes, the judges sent Tesar and Lizzie Binder, the bottom two from the elimination challenge, to duke it out with a cook-for-your-life competition to make the best healthy burger, and Binder came out on top.
Tesar had been interested in a run on Top Chef since the beginning and had auditioned for Season 1. "The wonderful thing about Top Chef is that it brings differences together [for the] love of cooking and entertainment," he admits."That was my fascination with the show - you can have 20 different people and 20 different styles, but you can find some commonality: the love of food, the love of people gathering, and the love of confrontation."
The chef enjoyed his fair share of confrontation on the show this season and found the mixed bag of clashing personalities to be his greatest challenge. "The biggest challenge for me was all of the different personalities," including that of Josh Valentine with whom Tesar shared an especially tense moment, fighting about celebrity chef Bobby Flay, a friend of Tesar's. "There are a lot of personalities in the room and [when] you shake it up, sometimes it's going to explode and sometimes you are going to get hugs. That's just how it is."
When left to his own accord, Tesar was able to make his favorite dish of the season: a restaurant-worthy seafood chowder for Ana Farris and Chris Pratt's homecoming party. "It's complicated because you cook with a lot of people, and there are a lot of team challenges," he says. Chefs often have to compromise in their team or partner dishes and rarely get to make food that is fully their own.
Now, even after Season 10, replete with epic confrontations and an earlier elimination than most expected, he still found the experience to be incredible. "I had the time of my life," said Tesar. "It was exhausting but at the same time exhilarating." Tesar hopes to make it back onto the show. "You've got to bring the Tesar back to shake it up a bit; it's not going to be Top Chef without me." If you want to see Tesar back on Top Chef, tweet #savechefjohn.
For his secret to cooking creatively and other tips for your kitchen, view the slideshow above.