'Top Chef: Wisconsin's Kévin D'Andrea Reveals the Biggest Difference Between Competing in America and France

Kévin D'Andrea

Top Chef is back in the kitchen! Every week, Parade's Mike Bloom interviews the latest chef told to pack their knives and leave Wisconsin.

Last season of Top Chef was branded "World All Stars," bringing together luminary alumni from global versions of the cooking series. And that theme carried through to Wisconsin with Kévin D'Andrea. After finishing as runner-up in his season of Top Chef France, he seemed on paper to be a shoo-in to continue his conquest stateside. But, as is the usual case with Top Chef, concept and execution are two totally different things. Despite having the most experience, Kévin arguably struggled the most out of the "cheftestants," consistently finishing on the bottom when he failed to deliver on his dishes. Kévin did have highlights, though, peaking when he nearly won $20,000 during the flambée and char Quickfire. Unfortunately, he went from his high point in the competition immediately to his low point. Attempting to make good on a Top Chef no-no, making risotto, he continued the curse, getting eliminated by the judges.

Read on to hear Kévin's thoughts on her time in the game, and check out Last Chance Kitchen to watch Kévin and other eliminated chefs fight for redemption and a chance to get back into the competition.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Top Chef Season 21

How did you end up getting onto American Top Chef, considering your time on Top Chef France? How did you feel about throwing yourself into the pressure cooker of the show again?
They contacted me, and I'm a man of challenge and wanted to have fun with it again. It's definitely two different types of competition.

Now that you've experienced both, what's the biggest difference between the American and French versions of Top Chef?
In Top Chef France, we are judged blindly by a panel of 15 Michelin star chefs.

That said, how surprised were you when you struggled early on in the competition? Was there a main contributing factor?
It's a competition where anything can happen. But the hardest part was understanding the challenge and building on that.

You wound up in the bottom back-to-back in the bar snacks and cheese challenges. The judges commented that you had taken Tom's advice to keep it simple for your olive dish and let it get in your head. Talk to me about that.
For the olive challenge the whole team was confused by an "Elevated the snack bar food. So, for us, it made sense to make a menu like a restaurant. Iit was definitely not what they wanted. And for the croquette, well, it was fun cooking in a corn field.

Your relationship with Manny was a highlight of the season. Talk to me about how "Team Power Bottom" came to be.
Manny became a brother, I'm actually invited to his wedding in June! The power bottom was fun.

The editing made it seem like you were stunned to not win or even be in the top during both the dairy dessert Quickfire and the "Chaos Cuisine" Elimination Challenge. What are your feelings on that?
I was very proud of both desserts; a dish doesn’t need 34 elements to shine. I wanted to show my technique, and go back to simplicity, and showcase the perfect use of ingredients.

Let's get into the episode that eliminated you. You had your greatest success in the Quickfire, but just lost out on $20,000. Talk to me about the high and low of that challenge.
It is what it is, unfortunately. I didn't know I had to char the whole plate to make it pop. I'm into subtle flavor.

You chose to make risotto for the sausage race, despite how many times it's failed before on Top Chef. What made you decide to do that?
Failing with the best risotto ever in Top Chef, I'll take it.

Gail said it was one of the best risotto dishes on Top Chef. But the judges still had issues, between some broken grains and Tom not liking how it wasn't made to order. What's your reaction to the feedback?
I understood their feedback.

Were you surprised to be eliminated over Dan?
It is what it is, joining Tom in Last Chance Kitchen was my opportunity to show him some French regressive cuisine.

Next, check out our interview with Rasika Venkatesa, who was eliminated in Top Chef: Wisconsin Episode 6.