November 15, 2012 3:33pm PT by Seth Abramovitch
'Top Chef Seattle': Jeffrey Jew Has 'No Regrets' After Going Home First
Halibut will haunt him.
It was that delicate fish that proved the undoing of Jeffrey Jew, the 34-year-old chef who had the rotten luck of becoming the first Top Chef Seattle contestant sent home during regular competition.
In Wednesday's episode, the chefs were split into six teams and asked to prepare a dish using ingredients local to the Pacific Northwest. Jew -- joined on his team by Bart Vandaele and Brooke Williamson -- served pan-roasted halibut over a wheat beer-and-herb sabayon. The judges across the board found the fish overcooked and dry, and sent Jeffrey packing.
But Jeffrey's run of bad luck didn't end there: When the D.C.-based chef returned to the restaurant he was slated to run, he was told he no longer had his job. He since has relocated to St. Petersburg, Fla.
Jew spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about that cursed halibut, his big move and his upcoming wedding plans.
The Hollywood Reporter: Well, that sucks. You were one of the chefs we were looking forward to following this season.
Jeffrey Jew: I’m getting a lot of that, but I had a great time, and I would do this again in a heartbeat. No regrets whatsoever.
THR: Do you cook seafood a lot?
Jew: I do. That’s actually the crazy part that I get from my friends -- that I’m known to cook fish quite well. I cook fish all the time. It’s just one of those things where you’re in that element of the Top Chef kitchen, which is different from any other kitchen.
THR: How do you account for the 14 minutes the fish sat under heat lamps?
Jew: As a team, we had a game plan, and we had a timeline -- when to fire this, when to fire that. Being the newcomers to Top Chef , we gave ourselves a little wiggle room to make sure we had the dish ready on time. Looking back, could we have fired a little later? Yes. But not knowing how things work, we went ahead with our game plan.
THR: It will be the halibut that haunts your dreams.
Jew: Every time I look at halibut on the menu, I’m like, "Oh, God."
THR: And you live now in Washington D.C.?
Jew: I lived in D.C. I just recently moved to St. Petersburg, Florida.
THR: What prompted the change?
Jew: My employer said, "Your job is safe, so do your thing." I came back and that wasn’t the case. My partner Jim had just graduated Georgetown with a master’s degree, and he was offered an executive position [in St. Petersburg], so we went with it. I have some friends down here in this area, so it’s not too big of a culture shock. But it’s definitely a slower pace of life.
THR: What happened with your old job?
Jew: You know, I’m not really sure, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find out. But they said, "The job we promised you is no longer available, and if you want to stay with the company, you’ll have to do something else." Which was kind of hard for me to wrap my head around because before I was slated to open this restaurant and I had done multiple tastings and developed the menu.
THR: Can you name the restaurant?
THR: Was it because of the show? It wasn't because you were eliminated first, was it?
Jew: They didn’t know that. It happened a few months ago when I got back [from shooting]. I don’t know what their motivation was. It’s still a big mystery. I have a lot of friends who still work for the company, and they didn’t understand it. It's probably a good thing. I'm off to bigger and better things down here. I'm opening my own place soon.
THR: Do you have a wedding date set?
Jew: That’s a very good question. My partner is doing a merger and acquisition of a bank, so we have to wait until it’s over. He’s always doing something, so it’s always pushed back.