After a surprising elimination on Top Chef season 15, Oakland’s Tanya Holland tells Food & Wine that she wasn’t a big fan of the “chest puffing and name dropping” practiced by some of her male counterparts on the show. “I’ve just always believed that a little humility goes a long way,” Holland said, adding that she “probably” wouldn’t compete on the show again.
She certainly doesn’t have to — Holland’s got a full plate with a larger Oakland Brown Sugar Kitchen in the works, as well as a forthcoming Ferry Building outpost. But the chef makes that judgment because some aspects of the show didn’t sit well with her, particularly the way its male contestants teamed up together. A she tells Food & Wine:
I was over it the minute the teams were picked. For me, things didn’t begin at Judges Table. It began when the teams were formed and the three bears were all on one team. It’s the continuation of the bro culture. In my experience, in this world right now, white guys have an advantage. In their training, they’ve been given access and tools that I haven’t. White men get behind each other and empower themselves. Duh! Look at our president. But I’m not whining and I’m not a victim…I get up every day and attack the world face on and big smile first, but many can’t handle it.
Holland says another issue on the show was adjusting to fast cooking and prep times. “The biggest challenge for me is that I spend a lot of time with my proteins in my restaurant… marinating, smoking, braising, etc. and there’s no time to do that on Top Chef.”
As for what inspired her to get on the show in the first place, Holland says she’s “on a mission to inspire and make an impact in the industry for women of color. I didn’t have same gender/race mentors and so I feel it’s my duty to be this example.”
If that leaves anyone inspired to try out for Top Chef, note that Bravo will be back in SF for a casting call at Jardiniere on Sunday, February 11.
- ‘Top Chef’s’ Tanya Holland on That Tense Judges Table [Food & Wine]