We had the chance to catch up with Justin Antiorio, runner up for this seasons Hell’s Kitchen. He is an amazingly talented chef with the future at his doorstep. It will be great watching where his culinary career takes him. You can find him at his website at cookingwithjustin.com/, his twitter at twitter.com/ChefJustinHk, and his facebook at facebook.com/ChefJustin.
FoodBeat: You came so close. Did you ever think you would make it to the final two?
Justin Antiorio: When I applied to the show I had no idea what I was getting into. In our last interview we talked about how my family applied for me, so it was a big surprise. I had never watched the show and I couldn’t expect how difficult some things would be. You would think cooking would be hardest, but honestly it was dealing with all the different personalities. That many people in one small space, sleeping 3 hours a night? It was crazy. My biggest challenge was focusing on my craft and cooking and not what everyone else was doing. I didn’t know I’d make it as far as I did, but I took each day one at a time.
FoodBeat: So are you happy with where you ended up, or upset you didn’t win?
Justin Antiorio: I have no regrets at all. I gave everything I had on the show and I demonstrated who I am as a person. I never became a chef to make millions of dollars. I love to cook! Christine really deserved to win. I think she’ll do great working at the restaurant. I’m free to open my own restaurant and run the kitchen the way I want. I think we both got what we wanted.
FoodBeat: I think coming in second is a huge accomplishment. You really stayed out of the drama. Do you think that helped you get that far?
Justin Antiorio: It worked for me, but I can’t say it was a tactic. Future contestants will have to find their own way through because it’s different for everyone. I stayed true to myself and I’m happy about that. It’s not a glamorous job and you work 16 hour days 6 days of the week.
FoodBeat: How did you come up with your menu?
Justin Antiorio: I didn’t want to hold back at all. I used my style of bold flavors and crazy cooking techniques that I learnt on the east coast. I knew Christina would work to her advantage so I had to use my style too. If my brigade could handle it, I did it.
FoodBeat: How did you choose your team members?
Justin Antiorio: Christina was the winner of the last challenge and so she determined the first pick and made sure I had the last pick. My team really did try their best and they did everything they could. Unfortunately we lost. You know Brian and I are friends, and he called me up after the finale. He was in tears because we lost and he kept saying sorry. It wasn’t my teams fault we lost, it just wasn’t meant to be. I don’t want people to be sad about me losing. I’m a proud person and we did great. Ultimately Christina was the best choice for the job and that’s what mattered.
FoodBeat: What’s in your future? Will we get to see you on television again?
Justin Antiorio: I think I’m going to open up my own restaurant. I’m headed to Miami to clear my head and then I’ll hit the ground running. As for television, I didn’t go on the show to become a celebrity or a star. I wanted to show America who I am as a person and a chef. If there was an all-star cast maybe I’d consider a few episodes. The proposal would have to be right for me though.
FoodBeat: Anything you want our readers to know?
Justin Antiorio: I just want to let everyone know that I’m so grateful to them. I had so much support, especially from my Jersey people. I read all their commented and it really brings a tear to my eye. I’m just a chef- not Brad Pitt. I’m happy with what I did on the show and where I ended up. And congratulations to Christina! I love her, we’re such great friends. I want to wish her the best in her new job!