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 24 2008 11:00 PM ET

Most interesting thing you’re learning by working in the big kitchen against each other?

Jennifer: We were going back and forth about whether we should open a business together or not. It’s a known fact that couples who open businesses together end up failing as couples. It’s always been a scary option. You know, why mix it into pleasure? So that’s one of the things, and after this experience, it’s like well, we did this, we can do anything.

Zoi: I think that you start to ask yourself questions that you never asked yourself before. Part of that is that feeling of opportunity -- like, "Hey, maybe somebody from Hawaii will want me to work for them" or … You’re suddenly a little more open to possibility. You feel more connected to more parts of the world. That changes how you look at life. All of a sudden the world feels a bit smaller -- tangible. The things that you want become more clear. It’s better, but it’s harder.

The best "Zoi" dish you love to eat?

Jennifer: She has this amazing Mediterranean background -- her father is Greek, so I’d have to say oxtail.

And what makes Jennifer a top chef?

Zoi: She’s the type of person who is from the heart. I think she’s a natural; very creative.

Did you have a sense that "This is cool -- maybe we can be role models for others in the LGBT community"?

Zoi: Well, I definitely didn’t go on the show with a pink triangle on my shoulder and like, "Yeah, I’m the spokesmodel for young lesbian chefs." I mean, gimme a break. There are plenty of gay and lesbian people working in the restaurant industry, and there always has been. I am not arrogant enough to think that suddenly I’m the first one everybody is seeing. I was definitely aware of the fact of that there may be young people watching and maybe saying, "Wow, these girls were on the show." But being gay, it’s not something that I need to wave a flag about. You know, it’s a part of my life. It doesn’t make me who I am. I was also conscious of the fact that people may look at us and say, "Oh, wow, you guys are representing successful lesbian couples." And that’s fantastic and flattering, and we’re both happy about that, but there are many, many, many of us out there. We're just one couple. We’re normal people that happen to be gay, happen to be chefs, and happen to be on the show. It’s really that simple.

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