Season four of Bravo's Top Chef Masters brings together 12 award-winning chefs (three of whom are gay) to Las Vegas to compete for $100,000 for the charity of their choice. Along with chef Art Smith, a bevy of queer guest judges (Indigo Girls, The B-52’s), and judge James Oseland, the gay editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine, the ones to watch are gay power couple, Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, owners of Arrows, a sustainable dining experience set in a restored eighteenth century Maine farmhouse. Both men are competing for LGBT charities as well: for Frasier it's Outright Lewiston/Auburn, which creates safe and affirming environments for LGBT and questioning youth, while Gaier is competing for Equality Maine Foundation. We caught up with the couple — married for 27 years — to find out what life on Top Chef Masters (which premiers July 25) was really like.
The Advocate: The first episode you two set out that you’re partners in life but on the show you’ll be competitors. How did that play out while filming?
Clark: Well, being competitors was difficult for us both. We did manage to help each other at times even though we were competing, but frankly all the chefs helped each other from time to time. It was difficult for us because for 27 years we’ve operated as a cohesive team each offering strengths to the other. Having said this, I think it was rewarding for both of us to see that we were both still strong competitors without relying on the other.
Mark: Being life partners and competing on set was not a problem for me. I still had Clark there with me and that alone gave me a feeling that things were OK. There were many others competing also so it did not feel like one-on-one with Clark.
With Arrows, you and Mark were sort of ahead of your time with the farm-to-table food. What’s next in food?
Clark: What’s next in food? I hate this question! Molecular gastronomy, Danish farm-to-table, lobster rolls, and on and on. Good food that is well prepared, that satisfies us in many ways, is eternal. Why does the press always insist on finding a new trend? We started farming and doing things the old way in 1988 and we are still doing it. Now the press is starting to pooh pooh farm-to-table, which is quite frankly absurd. Of course it’s being over played but, eating good food, raised sustainably, should never be a food trend; it should be what we all practice.