INTERVIEW.  Wilfried Romain, eliminated from Top Chef: "My only regret is not having done more tests with Paul Pairet"

After twelve weeks of competition, Wilfried Romain was eliminated from Top Chef this Wednesday, May 4. The cook looks back on his journey with Hélène Darroze then Paul Pairet for Télé Star.

Télé Star: For the first event, you wanted to take Chef Bagale on a journey of taste, your specialty. Has your failure prompted you to question yourself?

Wilfried Romain: In this competition, even when you win, you question yourself. Honestly, I thought I was ranked higher. We’re not going to lie to each other, Pascal did a stroke of genius but I thought I would finish second in this event, which would have qualified me.

Did the fact of only bringing back one point create tensions with Lilian?

Not at all, there was no tension between Lilian and me, on the contrary. If I too had nabbed this second place, it would have changed the outcome of the competition.

Did you resent Paul Pairet for designating you for the last chance?

Not at all. Especially since last week, Lilian had already left as a last chance where he got a crush on mackerel. Logic wanted it to be my turn to go. In addition, from the beginning, Paul Pairet had not yet sent me as a last chance. It’s part of the game. It’s a bit cruel sometimes when your boss sends you as a last chance, but that’s the rule of the contest.

This last chance was special since you were opposed to your restaurant war comrades. Was it more difficult to come face to face with them than with other candidates?

It is sure that this last chance theme Philo Saucisse is a little funny. Chance does things oddly. Afterwards, there were only seven of us, so your friends become your opponents, it’s still a competition. There is a good atmosphere but it is part of the rules of the game. In the end, there is only one, even if I would have liked there to be no eliminated. Casually, the quarter-finals are not very far away, the noose is tightening and inevitably you tell yourself that you may have your chance. But I didn’t get it (laughs).

Wilfried: “When I was eliminated from Top Chef for the first time, I felt unfinished”

Were you confident during this last chance?

I’m not a big meat eater so I told myself that even if I had to do the test, I might as well do it thoroughly. I prefer to leave having enjoyed it and having taken a risk – and here I took a big one, even if it didn’t pay off – and therefore leave with my head held high rather than doing something average but which pass anyway.

Did you understand what failed you?

Honestly, it wasn’t the best dumplings in the world. They were good but not exceptional either, being very objective. But it makes me laugh to be out on dumplings.

This is your second elimination. Which was the most painful?

It’s not painful to be eliminated. I’m not here to win but to enjoy. I would say maybe the first because I had only done eight weeks of competitions so I had a feeling of incompleteness. There, I made 12 including four with chef Paul Pairet where I had a blast. We did some very nice dishes like ravioli or citrus fruits. All good things come to an end.

During your elimination, Arnaud seems more moved than you.

I am like this. Even during my first elimination by Louise, she was the one crying. The idiots, they didn’t understand the rules (laughs). In fact, it’s moving. Moments like this affect me. We were confined so we bonded during filming. We don’t want anyone to leave. We talked about it with candidates thinking that it would be so great if there were never any eliminated but it’s not the same show anymore, there it goes in Top Chef, candidates of broken hearts (laughs).

Hélène Darroze “did not have the same understanding” of Wilfried as Paul Pairet

You went from the brigade of Hélène Darroze to that of Paul Pairet. Which of the two understood you the most?

I think everyone knows the answer: it’s Paul Pairet, of course. That’s why I’m very happy and very proud to have had the chance to race with him. Coming into this competition, I absolutely wanted to be with Paul Pairet. I told myself that he was going to succeed in capturing me, in advising me well. And it was confirmed. I have a great relationship with him. I am very very happy to have met him and to have crossed his path. I still have news of him. He takes a lot of news on what I’m going to do, what I’m doing. Gives me advice. The goal is not to do everything and anything. I prefer to do fewer things but do them well – like this residency for this summer which is in talks. I am very happy to keep this contact with him. We only did four episodes together. If I have one regret, it’s not having done more, but it was already great.

What about Hélène Darroze?

Other relationship. Other management. Not the same understanding. She has this much more maternal side, which I think matched less with me, even if it was very nice. I still owe him my place in the competition. Besides, I find it cool to “test” other chefs, like Seb who has made three. I would have liked to do a test coached by Etchebest.

Who will win in your opinion?

If I have to pay a small ticket or a beer, I bet on Mika because he is super solid, a big technician, creative and has his head on his shoulders. He is in a beautiful philosophy in this contest: he gets off on while winning.

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