Chef Emily Hahn's Top Chef run is over. Now what?

Exit interview


Emily Hahn has no regrets about her Top Chef time - PAUL CHENEY/BRAVO
  • Paul Cheney/Bravo
  • Emily Hahn has no regrets about her Top Chef time
Last night Warehouse Chef Emily Hahn was cut from Bravo's Top Chef: Charleston. She made it to episode 9 (not too shabby) and fought every step of the way. But a final head-to-head Last Chance Kitchen with none other than 5CHurch's Jamie Lynch sealed her fate and saw "the chef with tits representing Charleston" head home.

Now that her Top Chef run is over, we caught up with Hahn to find out what she thought of the show and what's next.

City Paper: What was it like watching yourself each week?
Emily Hahn: Going into this last challenge, I knew that I felt a little bit of a disconnect. Unlike some of the vets, I have a lot of childhood memories in cooking [Ep. 9's challenge was to make dish reminiscent of childhood for an MUSC fundraiser]. For some reason my grandpa was in my head. I knew going down the dessert road could be a risk. Ice box cake was gonna be difficult to turn around, but I felt like with the efforts I made, deep in my gut I had a small feeling that this maybe was my day.
But no one wants to go about their whole day thinking that and having that negative energy. I pushed through and made something tasty, kept a smile on my face.

CP: That's seems to be a trademark of yours — improv-ing and being flexibile.
EH: Adapting to situations is part of a chef mentality and my human nature. I've had some excellent experience with going to Patagonia and cooking off of a generator. Experiencing those kinds of things allows me to be even stronger. Would I love to go through the whole season without having to adapt what I messed up? Of course.

CP: How do you feel about your Top Chef portrayal?
EH: It could have been worse. I really actually feel they did an excellent job. Here's the thing, there's only so much you can do in editing to a person who is real every day and takes no shit and lives by the cardinal rule of what my Mom and Dad raised me to be — this person who she was. To some, I'm too much, maybe I'm not enough. But when I was scared they showed it. When I was nervous they showed it. That's real to me. That's real life. It's not cooking in my regular kitchen. I'm on TV. I'm not an actor I'm a chef.

CP: So what are you going to do now?
EH: Being on the show with the vets who are very well accomplished and then the new rookies that I've become friends with, everyone one of us is at a different point in their careers. For me, I've run some kitchens, I've gotten to travel, I cooked in South America, opened my own business. The future is bright.
James [Groetzinger] and Joey [Rinaldi] have supported me through all of these things — Chopped, Top Chef — the biggest reason we did this as a team was because I need an opportunity to show my platform for cooking. Warehouse, still to this day, people walk in the kitchen, they say we love your food, we didn't know you served food. We don't get our names out in such a big way. We wanted an opportunity to show what I love and do everyday.
I have a couple things in the works. I'm excited to say I have a good creative side to me and I'm always thinking of new things I can develop to make my work attire more comfortable and fitting and fashionable. Maybe I'm going to be the lamp lady who creates cool lamps out of old refurbished stuff. Maybe I'm gonna write children's cookbooks. Eventually I want to own my own business for sure. For now I'm stoked our food is out there.

CP: If you could change one moment on Top Chef, what would it be?

EH: I would have to say, I guess I don't have just one. Coming out of my personality and knowing that the show is a show and would be edited for TV drama, I probably would have bit my tongue in the situation with John and Jamie. [In Ep. 8 Emily, John, and Jamie were in the bottom three contestants and Jamie gave up his immunity so that Emily could stay on the show]. Jamie can fight his own fight. The day was long, the stress was high. I hadn't worked with lobster for years. It threw me for a loop. I was nervous, I don't throw anyone under the bus for personal gain. I was trying to be a hero for Jamie. It looked bad.
The other thing is maybe Tom Colicchio saying a few less times that I lost my confidence. Tom reminds me very much of two of my former bosses, but a little more of an extreme, intense version. I'd like the opportunity to cook for him again.

CP: If Top Chef asked you to come back as a veteran, would you?
EH: I loved the experience and I wouldn't be opposed to talking about it. It was hard. It took me away from what I'm really passionate about. But yeah.

CP: Do you think being a female chef on the show was important and does it change how you think about promoting female chefs in Charleston?
EH: I think we've talked about this before. I don't walk into my kitchen saying "I'm a woman hear me roar." I say "I'm Emily. Eye of the tiger, let's go." I do think it is important that women chefs be recognized. I do feel that for example Jill Matthias is an amazing friend of mine, a cool badass woman. She works six days a week and that's good for her. That's enough. She doesn't need to fight the good fight. Some of us don't need to be in the spotlight.
Someone like Sarah Adams is an amazing pioneer of women chefs in Charleston. It's important for us to be recognized. But you have to remember, these good ol' boys came up before us. It's not a male to female thing, it's more generation to generation. My generation, people like Sarah, Kristen Kish, Brooke on the show, we're all the same age and we're females coming up.
I will certainly continue to be a part of what Bad Bitches do. A platform for a couple cool, badass women chefs. Hell yeah. I'm always for it. But I certainly won't turn down working with Chis Stewart or Mike Lata either.

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