'Top Chef's' Pablo Lamon on Balancing Ambition with Reality

The Miami-based chef has one last shot at staying in the competition.

Photo: Smallz & Raskind/Bravo

Pablo Lamon entered the Top Chef kitchen as an accomplished chef from Miami, Florida with an exciting repertoire of Latin American flavors and cooking techniques. Lamon struggled a bit and found himself in front of the judge's table's as one of the bottom chefs a few times before being sent home for lackluster entree dishes during last week's Restaurant Wars. We caught up with the chef to talk about the biggest lessons he learned during his time on the show as well as who he thinks will take the title of Top Chef home.

Food and Wine: What inspired you to compete on Top Chef?

Pablo Lamon: Something that I've learned and that I definitely live by is that only when you challenge yourself is when you actually grow — as a person, or as a professional. I'm always looking for new ways to challenge myself so I can keep growing and moving forward in life. Top Chef is that for me. It was a hell of a challenge!

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?

PL: Well, one of the biggest lessons I learned is to balance my ambition with reality. I tend to shoot too high sometimes when it would be more productive to play it safe. I will always keep trying and will always give 110 percent but I need to learn not to go beyond my capabilities even though it's not always easy for me to make that call.

FW: What did you think when you first met your competitors and saw them in action?

PL: When I first saw the competitors I saw a group of hungry and talented chefs that don't fold under pressure and that want it all, which why would they be in Top Chef if that wasn't the case? Seeing them in action was amazing. They are all beasts!

FW: Do you feel like one of your competitors should have gone home instead of you? Who?

PL: No, I don't. I made mistakes, and I was sent home for them.

FW: Who do you think is going to be Top Chef? And who are you rooting for?

PL: To be honest, anyone could win this competition. They are all extremely talented and I don't have any preferences. They all deserve to win.

FW: What do you wish you had done differently during your time on the show?

PL: I wish that I hadn't been that ambitious and would have played it a little bit safer. Maybe get comfortable first with the challenges and then start trying bigger ideas.

FW: Do you have any tricks up your sleeve that you wish you had gotten the opportunity to show the judges?

PL: I definitely do.

FW: If you had to do Restaurant Wars over again would you make different dishes?

PL: I would definitely cook the short ribs in the oven, so that way I could do one batch and cook them all the same instead of four batches in three different pressure cookers, which was ridiculous! What was I thinking?! But I stand behind the flavors on my dishes.

FW: What did you think when you saw who the competition would be in Last Chance Kitchen?

PL: I was excited about cooking again with Natalie and also with Brother Luck who was a strong competitor on Top Chef.

FW: What's your strategy going into Last Chance Kitchen?

PL: Not to overcomplicate myself, and just cook good food.

Episode 6 of 'Top Chef' in Kentucky airs Thursday, January 10 at 8 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.

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