Last week at the New York Chocolate Show DessertBuzz caught up with Top Chef: Just Desserts contestant and pasty chef Eric Wolitzsky for a follow-up interview. He was in the main kitchen theater about to make a chocolate gingerbread bundt cake for a standing-room-only crowd.
DessertBuzz: The last time we spoke I never even asked you how you became a pastry chef.
Eric Wolitzky: I was actually in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and after that, after I escaped, I decided, I had to embrace what was in my heart so I enrolled in the French Culinary Institute. That’s basically, how I became a baker.
DB: What was your favorite challenge on Top Chef: Just Desserts?
EW: The bake sale! Come on! [Eric won this elimination challenge] It was so much fun to work with the high school kids they were a great inspiration to us. I also liked it when we worked as a team. Even though we didn’t seem like we always got along we were actually pretty close.
DB: On the show a big deal was made of the fact that you didn’t you think of yourself as a real pastry chef.
EW: For me I got on the show and being the only baker that’s the title that I embraced. I mean I was trained at the French Culinary Institute but I love bundt cakes and brownies and nobody else from the show did that really.
DB: Was the highlight of your experience when Johnny Iuzzini praised your talent and skills?
EW: It was! I finally got to hear what he was thinking. You know, I saw him the other day and it’s so great to have his support especially because we do such different things and for him to really like what I do and to talk about it on the show–
DB: It seemed really genuine from he viewer’s standpoint. Zac told me he cried when he watched the show after you came back from that judges table and announced “I’m a chef!”
EW: He (Johnny) was really rooting for me – he wanted the underdog to go through.
DB: Any other validations or warm fuzzy moments from guest judges?
EW: Nancy Silverton’s (of La Brea) support and comments, that was great for me as a baker – when she told us we were the winning team what you didn’t see was the 5 minutes of complete silence (from shock).
DB: Would you do it again for Top Chef: All Stars or a reunion-type show?
EW: Yes, but I would know what I was getting into. It would be different. It wouldn’t be “Eric turning into a chef” but “Eric the chef what does he do now?”.
DB: How has it been at Baked have people been stopping by?
EW: You know, I’m in the back and people get nervous about asking for me to come out or going in back. You have to understand that a lot of people In Red Hook don’t have TVs – none of my staff even have TVs!
DB: Red Hook doesn’t strike me as the type of place where people fawn over a reality TV show star.
EW: No. On the weekends we do get a lot of tourists though. Some people do make their way back and that’s nice.
DB: I think people are going to be surprised to learn that you were rooting for Morgan in the finale and not Yigit or Danielle?
EW: He’s awesome and very inspirirational, I mean he’s a pain in the ass to work with sometimes, and in the dessert wars challenge what they didn’t show was that Morgan didn’t wan’t to do it the way Danielle and I wanted to. He was really opposed to the comfort food. He really fought it, but eventually we came together and got behind it and worked as a team. Morgan and I really respected each other and never butted heads. We just had drinks this past Wednesday (they are both doing ads for Godiva).
And that was the last question I was able to ask before I was overtaken by a mob of chocolate show attendees [all jacked up on sugar and chocolate].
DB: Ok, good luck Eric!
EW: [over crowd noise] Thanks!
Go here for an interview with Dannielle Kyrillos.
For a recap of the finale go here.
For a recap of episode 9 go here.
For a recap of episode 8 go here.
For a recap of episode 7 go here.
For a recap of episode 6 go here.
For a recap of episode 5 go here.
For a recap of episode 4 go here.
For a recap of episode 3 go here.
For a recap of episode 2 go here.
For a recap of episode 1 go here.
Go here for a look at Johnny Iuzzini.
Official Bravo Bios for the judges: Johnny Iuzzuni – Executive Pastry Chef Jean Georges, Hubert Keller – Owner/Chef Fleur De Lys, Gail Simmons – Food and Wine Magazine, Dannielle Kyrillos – Daily Candy
Go here for the DessertBuzz Top Chef: Just Desserts preview page.