'Top Chef's' Tyler Anderson on Going Big and Going Home
The Connecticut-based chef was one of season 15's most animated contestants and an early frontrunner in the competition.
This season Top Chef has seen a pattern of sending home chefs with big personalities and clear perspectives on food over competitors you would be excused for assuming are playing it safe. Tyler Anderson fell victim to this trend last week as his “heritage dish” included too many components with no clear vision, according to the judges. This coupled with his lackluster Quickfire dish resulted in his elimination, easing things up for the chefs worried about the heavy competition he brought to the house. The biggest of the three “bears” was the first to fall. Before he competed on Top Chef, Tyler trained under Charlie Trotter, Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris before opening his own restaurant, Millwright’s Restaurant and Tavern in Simsbury Connecticut. Millwright’s may be in the middle of Connecticut but it’s front and center on the culinary world’s map, earning him four consecutive nominations for Best Chef Northeast James Beard Award. On the show, he was known for his bombastic personality with the guest judges and his creative approach to challenges.
Food & Wine: What inspired you to compete on Top Chef?
Tyler Anderson: I love competition and really wanted to see how I stacked up in something like this. Curiosity mostly.
F&W: How did you adjust your cooking style to compete in the Top Chef kitchen?
TA: I had to tailor my cooking style to build flavors quickly. I like to spend a lot of time creating and preparing my food, so the whole time constraint thing is a real curveball.
F&W: What did you think when you first met your competitors and saw them in action?
TA: It was obviously a very diverse group who had pretty specific specialties.
F&W: Do you feel like you deserved to be sent home? If not, who did?
TA: I deserved to be sent home for the dish I served. Going home sucked because I felt that I cooked some of the best food on the show, even some of the things I finished on the bottom with I was very proud of. I shouldn’t have lost the Quickfire this week, that dish was great and on “theme” (healthy, reinterpreted). Finishing on the bottom with a dish I felt was that good made me overthink the elimination challenge and put out a dish that was not me.
F&W: What do you wish you had done differently in the elimination challenge? What about during your time in the competition?
TA: I thought I did really well in the competition up until the last elimination, there was probably a lot of relief in the house when I was sent home. My major error was letting the competition get in my head. The ups and downs of the competition coupled with the annoyances of filming reality TV took me off my game.
F&W: Do you have any tricks up your sleeve that you wish you had gotten the opportunity to show the judges?
TA: I'm not really a tricky chef. I've been cooking at a pretty high level for many years so my technique game is pretty strong. I wish I would have shown them me going further in the competition.
F&W: What was your favorite dish you prepared on the show?
TA: My favorite dish was my reinterpreted, healthy version of spaghetti and meatballs that I lost with on this week's Quickfire. It was really good, had great technique etc.
F&W: What is your strategy going into Last Chance Kitchen?
TA: Try and win.
F&W: Would you ever consider coming back on a future season and what would you do differently?
TA: F*ck yes… I would win.