The Colorado Springs-based chef talks 'Last Chance Kitchen' strategy and those German egg rolls.
In a Top Chef season with relatively even-keeled personalities, chef Brother Luck stood out among his competitors for his commitment to creativity and eccentric background. He was asked to pack his knives this past week in a controversial elimination for failing to adequately meet the challenge of creating an upscale German dish with his Asian-inspired German egg rolls. On Top Chef we learned about his past as a gangbanger and the influence his parents’ time as exotic dancers in Japan had on his cooking. Prior to the show, he opened Four by Brother Luck in downtown Colorado Springs which earned him “Best Local Chef” and “Most Cutting Edge Restaurant” by the Gazette Newspaper and Colorado Springs Independent. He also may have looked familiar to audiences because of his prior appearances on Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay. During his time on the show, he garnered a reputation for creative Asian cuisine that highlighted Colorado ingredients.
Food & Wine: What inspired you to compete on Top Chef?
Brother Luck: I wanted to challenge myself and compete against some of the best chefs in the country. I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder that I didn’t study under some famous name but I’ve worked hard to build a solid repertoire and wanted to show viewers that hard work pays off. I came to represent Brother Luck, not anyone else.
F&W: How did you adjust your cooking style to compete in the Top Chef kitchen?
BL: I never adjusted my style while cooking in the Top Chef Kitchen. I think quick on my feet and put out some of my best cooking in tough scenarios. Everything I cooked on Top Chef was true and flavorful except that stupid fry bread.
F&W: What did you think when you first met your competitors and saw them in action?
BL: When I first saw the other chefs cooking I felt I had a good chance to win. All my insecurities of not feeling good enough went out the door once I realized we all had the same burners to work with.
F&W: Do you feel like you deserved to be sent home? If not, who did?
BL: I definitely disagreed with the decision of the judges to send me home but I was the one who didn’t meet the challenge. I put out a solid dish that I personally felt was German-inspired and true to who I am as a chef, but, it is what it is. Chris beat me for immunity and wasn’t able to be sent home so now it’s on to Last Chance Kitchen. I feel sorry for whoever walks through that door.
F&W: Who do you think is going to be Top Chef? And who are you rooting for?
BL: I’m rooting for Fatima or Claudette because they both have such a cool styles and personas. Their flavors are honest and true to their cultures.
F&W: What do you wish you had done differently in the elimination challenge? What about during your time in the competition?
BL: I wish I would have just made a classic German dish. Richard Blais said it best "Top Chef is about a defensive strategy. You cook to stay in the competition and eventually win the final challenge." I should have played it safe but then I wouldn’t have been true to myself. My food was always solid and I’m sure the other cheftestants felt some relief to not have me as a threat anymore.
F&W: Do you have any tricks up your sleeve that you wish you had gotten the opportunity to show the judges?
BL: I didn’t really go into Top Chef with any tricks up my sleeve. I’ve been cooking for 20 years and my creativity is unlimited. It would have been fun to continue on the show but now I’m focusing on taking these all these chefs out one by one in Last Chance Kitchen.
F&W: What was your favorite dish you prepared on the show?
BL: The smoked egg with tempura was my favorite dish because it was so off the cuff. I also really like the hibiscus mignonette I came up with on the mise en place challenge in eight minutes. I knew the steak wouldn’t have time to rest and would bleed into the cream sauce so the red mignonette had a second purpose to hide that.
F&W: What is your strategy going into Last Chance Kitchen?
BL: My strategy going into Last Chance Kitchen is to destroy anyone who shows up. I’m a solid cook with great technique and I’ve shown best in Quickfires. I've been fighting my whole life and refuse to give up or quit. I’d much rather go toe-to-toe with these competitors and fight it out.
F&W: Would you ever consider coming back on a future and what would you do differently?
BL: Of course I would consider coming back. I loved sharing my story and reaching so many people through my cooking. The response from viewers has been overwhelming in making me realize how many people need someone to say you can rise above anything.