Euclid Hall's Jorel Pierce on being booted from Top Chef Seattle
What would you like people to know about your food, since we only got to see a snippet of how you cook on Top Chef?
There are some major differences between what I do at Euclid and what I was asked to do on the show. I like to do things the way that I think are appropriate -- and I cut chickens all the time at the restaurant, and I know what I'm doing. My food is unique, creative and innovative, and I do things with originality in mind. People expect that of me at the restaurant, and at the end of the day, it's all about what people perceive. Everyone loves the food here, and we're doing a good job. I cook from the heart and I cook to inspire thought and appreciation.
Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio scolded you for butchering the chicken incorrectly. What went wrong there? Was it miscommunication?
There was definitely a nervous aspect going on there. I'm confident at the restaurant, and I'm comfortable being the center of the attention, but this setting was completely different. A lot of it was nerves -- not because it was Tom -- just nervous to be out of my comfort zone, and I probably glazed over his instructions, not on purpose, but because I was nervous. But to be honest, his instructions weren't very explicit. Still, I knew at that point that I definitely had a strike against me, and I knew that wasn't good, but I've never been that competitive, which is one reason why I resisted applying to be on Top Chef for quite a while.
Your mustache is currently trending -- people are talking and writing about it -- what's up with that?
If my on-camera presence, or my resume, didn't set me apart, I knew my mustache would. I decided if they were going to typecast at all, I may as well separate myself from the pack. It was kind of wild watching it on TV, though, but I'm goofy like that.
After this experience, would you ever do reality TV again?
The results didn't really attack my confidence; I just needed the nerves to go by the wayside, and I think that would have happened. And, yes, I'd definitely do it again.
After being exposed to reality TV, what are the biggest differences between that environment and being in your own kitchen at Euclid?
There are so many differences. On Top Chef, I was a guy vying for an opportunity on a national stage, but what I found is that all the things I love about cooking were missing and out of balance. Here, I'm in an environment where I have familiarity and passion, and I have a connection with my crew and my guests. That wasn't there in the Top Chef kitchen -- there was no camaraderie. At Euclid, I don't cook for just one person -- I cook to make a lot of people think about food differently, and I didn't have that opportunity on the show.
There was no doubt a lot of pressure, knowing that your fate was in Tom Colicchio's hands. How did that affect you?
While the pressure was intense and intimidating, I know now that I learned a lot about myself and why I do what I do, and it's an experience that's helped me to recenter my purpose in cooking and my goals and motives in the kitchen -- to be progressive and thoughtful and playful and to inspire people both on my staff and the people who walk in the doors expecting something different. For me, it's about the thought-provoking aspect of cooking, and it was kind of frustrating for me that I couldn't be thoughtful or playful with the tasks that Tom gave me -- I couldn't create. Instead, he asked me to do a routine thing -- cutting a chicken -- that I do my way, and he does his way. That said, I don't know who died and made him the fucking be-all and end-all of butchering chickens.