A Side Dish of Love

Things get hot in the kitchen for Top Chef contestants Jennifer and Zoi. They may be partners in life, but they're now squaring off for the title and there can only be one winner

BY Greg Archer

March 25 2008 12:00 AM ET

So was there any trepidation? I mean, you’re partners, you’re close, so you both must know a little about the other’s style -- how much one of you uses a sprinkle of this, a dash of that?

Jennifer: Well, there was definitely a situation when I looked over once and thought, Oh no, she’s not doing what I am doing, is she? I feared her as a competitor. If I looked at the whole group, she wouldn’t be the first one I would want to go up against.

Why?

Jennifer: She’s really talented and creative. It wouldn’t feel that good to get your ass kicked by your partner, you know?

Zoi: I think we respect old-school techniques and old-school thinking about food and cooking and how that affects the community. It’s funny, because we thought, You know, I kind of know what you are going to be doing. But during one of the challenges, we were standing next to each other and it was like, Wow, you’re doing that and I am doing this? And they were very different things. We are similar, but in this kind of environment, when you are being asked to perform literally in the moment, it goes beyond being similar in style. It’s about what’s in your heart and what you want.

Top Chef Zoi (Bravo) | Advocate.comContestant Zoi

Did you have a pact -- that no matter what happens, it was like, "Hey, I love you and it’s all good, honey?"

Jennifer: Yeah. We were determined to get down to the final three and just, like, kill, you know?

There’s a good thing about that. If you do get to the final three -- if either one of you wins -- you still get to take home the "bacon" to the same home, you know?

Jennifer: Exactly.

All of the contestants have to live in the same house, so how was that for you two as a couple?

Jennifer: Hard. Because you don’t want to get into a bunk. You want to get in bed with your partner.

Zoi: We talked about that before we went on the show. We didn’t know if they were going to give us our own room or not. We basically looked at it as if we were going to work at the same restaurant. Not to say that we were hiding the fact that we were a couple and that we weren’t going to touch each other, but that there would be a certain amount of professionalism; certain things you do, and don’t. We were very, very, very aware of other people. We didn’t want the fact that we were in a relationship to be used against us. We didn’t want that to be a factor. We wanted the fact that we were both talented chefs to be a factor. I think we were more affectionate around the girls than the guys. You know, girls are girls and they were like, "If you guys want to sleep in the same bed, it’s OK." We were very conscious of the fact that we had each other there and that nobody else had someone like that. The last thing we wanted to do was rub it in their face.

Tags: television

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