The new season of Top Chef starts tomorrow night, and Seattle's supplied an impressive four cheftestants. To help you get your rooting plans in order before Padma announces "your time starts now," Voracious put the same probing questions to each of our hometown reps. Now up, Simon Pantet.
Culinary background: Pantet's cooking career started at the age of 14, when he started interning in French restaurants in his native Switzerland. He enrolled in photography school, but says "I was all about darkrooms, and then Photoshop came up." He's held a series of cooking jobs in Seattle, including the executive chef position at 22 Doors, but hopes to soon relocate to San Francisco.
SW: What's your signature ingredient?
SW: What was your favorite childhood restaurant?
SP: It's in San Remo, in Italy. My mother's side is from there. A place called Ramano had amazing beef skewers.
SW: What's your favorite meal in Seattle?
SP: Lately, it's been a dish at Local 360, tête de cochon. It's delicious.
SW: What's your favorite place to eat outside of Seattle?
SP: Back in Switzerland, because everything is better there.
SW: Drink of choice?
SW: What can the rest of the country learn from Seattle chefs?
SP: We get awesome seafood. People here can cook seafood like no others. Seattle chefs are getting way, way better than they used to be when I moved here in 1997.
SW: If you had to gauge chefs' skills using a challenge that didn't involve cooking, which activity would you use?
SP:I'd make them do some kind of graveyard work, just to see what they're made of.
SW: What were your impressions of Texas before being cast on Top Chef?
SP: Coming from Seattle, the day I left, it was 54 degrees. When I got to San Antonio, it was 90 degrees at 11 o'clock at night. It wasn't very pleasant. My (layover) was in Dallas, and a lot of people in cowboy boots and cowboy hats looked at me like they wanted to kill me. I did not enjoy that.
SW: Who's your reality show role model?
SP: As far as cooking shows, it would be Anthony Bourdain.