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'Malibu' Chris: 'Top Chef' Can Make You Snap
Top Chef's "Malibu" Chris Crary took time out of his day filled with painting naked ladies, keeping fit and being Chef de Cuisine at Whist at the Viceroy hotel in Santa Monica to talk with the Insider. See what the Top Chef: Texas hunk had to say about the war between Beverly and Heather, keeping off 70 pounds and the rest of his dramatic season of the hit Bravo reality show.
The Insider: How does it feel to leave Top Chef?
Chris Crary: It was difficult. It’s so early still in the competition and I felt like I didn’t get to show myself in a lot of my cooking. It’s hard that I didn’t get to put it all out there for everyone to see.
The Insider: What was the most difficult part of being on the show?
Chris: For me the most difficult part is being told what to do and when you can do and how you can do it and with who. As a chef you are a leader and you are used to calling the shots and ordering your own produce … just being in charge. Not being in charge and giving up control is really difficult.
The Insider: It's been a dramatic season. What was the most dramatic moment for you?
Chris: Seeing the Beverly and Heather thing go down, it really threw a damper on the experience we were all having. We were all having such a great time getting into spirit of the competition, and then it took a little turn when they were on the same team and Heather threw Beverly under the bus. … I still don’t understand [why she did that] to this day.
The Insider: People seemed to gang up on Beverly. Did you find that?
Chris: I don’t think everyone is against Beverly but when you are in such tight quarters and when you are sleep-deprived and you are being poked like cattle, little things start to annoy people and certain people had traits that were a little annoying to say the least. Beverly is a super-sweet person; she is a great person, great chef. Like I said in [last week’s] episode, her common-sense factor is a little weak there. So some of the things she does you think, "Aww really? Why would you do that?"
The Insider: A Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker contestant committed suicide. Seth on Top Chef: Just Desserts had a total meltdown. Do you feel like there’s just too much pressure on some of the contestants?
Chris: There is a lot of pressure. I don’t think it’s intentional, I just think it’s part of the process. There are a lot of things going on and a lot of parts moving in the machine and it takes a little while for things to happen… and that gives us a lot of time to stew and sit around and think about what’s going on. So I can understand why someone would snap. It’s quite a strange experience. For people who have never gone through it, you will probably never understand how hard it is. … So I can understand why someone would snap, but you have to tell yourself it’s a competition, it’s just a competition it’s not the end of the world if I lose or I win.
The Insider: What’s your guilty food pleasure?
Chris: Being that I did lose 70 pounds in the last two years, my biggest dirty pleasure is biscuits and gravy. It’s so weird and random but I love a good biscuit and gravy.
The Insider: So you lost 70 pounds, what inspired you to start losing weight?
Chris: The main thing was seeing myself in the Chef Works catalogue. Everyone sees themselves differently than other people see you. Looking in the mirror, that wasn’t the picture that I saw. So when it went out to however many people get that … my friends all over the country, calling me and texting me about it. It was one of those calls to wake up and live a healthier life.
The Insider: How did you go about doing that?
Chris: The way it started is that I wanted to see how my body reacts to food and understand the way things get broken down. For the first month, I just stopped drinking alcohol and soda. I didn’t start exercising and I didn’t do anything else and I lost 17 pounds within one month. So that kind of got the ball rolling. Then it was what if I start exercising? What if stop eating carbs?
The Insider: What’s a low cal meal you would prepare for yourself now?
Chris: I don’t eat at home much. If I cook for myself it's usually egg whites, or Ezekiel toast from Whole Foods. I try to stay really healthy. I don’t bring any food home because I have one of those personalities where if I open up a bag of chips I have to finish it. I guess I'm a clean plater, so I can’t have food in my house.
The Insider: Do you have any regrets from your time on the show?
Chris: My biggest regret is probably not showcasing myself. I was more worried about trying to stay true to “Texas” and do the Texas people proud. But I should have done my food and my twist on “Texas food” instead of try to be so traditional because I felt like we were being driven down the path of the Texas cuisine. So I was trying to stay within those realms. Looking back on it, I wish I had gone outside the box a little bit more.
The Insider: What is next for you?
Chris: What is next? If only I knew that! That’s the $125,000 question. Well hopefully in the near future, it would be to win Fan Favorite. But further down the line I’d love to get my own restaurant, and take it from there and see what happens. I’d love to be back on TV, of course. I want to stay true to myself I am a chef at heart.
The Insider: What do you think about your nickname, "Malibu"?
Chris: I think it’s pretty funny because every time I think of it – I think of the "California" connotation. And me, being from Ohio, I feel like a poser. I think the name came more from Malibu Ken the Barbie doll. They kept calling me "Malibu Ken" for a little while, but I kept telling them, "My name’s not Ken." It’s funny, three years ago I would have never had that nickname, but it just shows that the hard work and dedication paid off. And now everywhere I go, people call me "Malibu."