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Michael Vignola

The Secrets Behind Chopped

    Michael Vignola
Executive Chef Michael Jordan's The Steak House N.Y.C.

TravelsinTaste.com: Were you nervous?

Vignola: I started out as a young kid, always getting my ass handed to me. I earned my stripes, so guys yelling at me and telling me I'm going down doesn't really do anything to me. I actually thrive on chaos. I enjoy the confusion and that fast pace. Chefs are all adrenaline junkies at heart because there's nothing better than that heady feeling that we're never going to get out of the weeds. Then you get out of the weeds and you're like, "Oh!" It's just such an accomplishment. Go to battle every day and come out. That's what Chopped was. It was a straight battle. It was so hard. We went out and partied and celebrated. It was a good night.

TravelsinTaste.com: Did you have any bonding with your fellow cheftestants?

Vignola: I respect my profession and everyone works hard. Everyone is at a different level, but the guy in the greasy spoon is no better than the guy behind the Michelin star stove. We're all in this together. The experience is the same: to please our guests. It is just different levels of pleasure. Marja [Samsom] was great. She's an amazing, really cool person. Very down to earth and a great competitor. A very smart, savvy woman. I still talk to her to this day because of that experience we had. I don't think competition is her forte, because she is so established. She doesn't really need to prove anything to people. I think it was fun for her. She had a cool, great vibe. That's a calming experience, to have someone next to you like that. It's kind of sad, as it is filmed in the same sequence as you see. Once someone gets knocked off, they finish, post interviews and then they are gone. You don't get to actually talk to them on the way out; they're already gone. You'd like to get someone's number or hug it out or just say, "You shouldn't have went out that way."

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