'Top Chef's' Natalie Maronski Is Ready to Cook Again
Plus her plans to take the helm at an iconic Philadelphia landmark.
Natalie Moronski, the reserved Philly chef who had recently taken time off from her profession, won the first week’s elimination challenge was sent home the second week in a heartbreaking elimination. Despite her talents, she couldn’t overcome a lack of acid in her dish due to having too few lemons when the team was forced to cut their budgets during a team challenge. “When life gives you lemons, ask for more,” she says as we watch her pack her knives and go. We caught up with Moronski to find out what’s her strategy going into Last Chance Kitchen and what’s next.
Food & Wine: What inspired you to compete on Top Chef?
Natalie Moronski: I had always played things safe and never put myself out there. I wanted something to challenge not only my cooking abilities but also my habit to stay guarded in my personal life.
FW: What was the biggest lesson during your time on Top Chef? Did you learn something new about yourself or your cooking that you'll take with you?
NM: Although my time on Top Chef was short, the entire experience taught me a lot about myself. Some new things I didn’t see in myself before, and some that reaffirmed who I am and what I know. Not having a specialty that I consistently lean into, it was interesting to see where I migrated to across foods and flavors. I will definitely be incorporating it moving forward in my own kitchen.
FW: What did you think when you first met your competitors and saw them in action?
NM: The whole experience was somewhat surreal. It was one thing to live it and another to watch it on TV. In the moment, my head was down and didn’t concern myself too much with what others were doing. While watching it on TV, every single competitor is impressive in different ways.
FW: Do you feel like one of your competitors should have gone home instead of you? Who?
NM: I didn’t get a chance to taste anyone else’s dish. So, I really can’t answer that.
FW: Who do you think is going to be Top Chef? And who are you rooting for?
NM: I’m rooting to keep it in Philly with Eddie. But would also love for any of my remaining roomies in the house to win: Kelsey and Nini!!!
FW: What do you wish you had done differently in the elimination challenge?
NM: It’s easy to say that I wish I fought harder for more of my shopping cart not shared. At the end of the day, lack of lemons was just one of many issues that were controllable and noncontrollable that led to our team loss and my elimination.
FW: Do you have any tricks up your sleeve that you wish you had gotten the opportunity to show the judges?
NM: I don’t think I have any “tricks” but it would’ve been great to show my span of experience, knowledge, and technique.
FW: What is your strategy going into Last Chance Kitchen?
NM: No strategy! LCK is going to be a big challenge for me. The time constraint is definitely a challenge. Cooking is one thing, but articulating what’s going on in my mind is another challenge for me as someone who likes to think things through before speaking.
FW: On the show, you mentioned that you want to get back into the kitchen. Do you have any updates on where you’re at now? Are you cooking professionally again?
NM: I’m working on several diverse concepts going into the iconic Divine Lorraine in Philadelphia. Construction is starting soon and I’m beyond excited to get into my own kitchen.
FW: What did you think when you saw the veterans you would be competing against in Last Chance Kitchen?
NM: Candidly, I don’t know too much about these competitors. Anytime Top Chef brings back veterans, it’s the “ones that got away”, so you know you’re in for a tougher challenge to get back into the Top Chef Kitchen!
Episode 3 of ‘Top Chef’ in Kentucky airs Thursday, December 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo. ‘Last Chance Kitchen’ streams immediately following the show at BravoTV.com/Last-Chance-Kitchen. Find additional interviews, chef bios, and more at BravoTV.com/TopChef.