Young and Hungry

Highlights from Mike Isabella’s Chat with WaPo Readers

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Mike Isabella withstood charges of misogyny, but he couldn't stand up to Natalie Portman's palate during last night's vegetarian challenge. He was told to pack his knives and go, officially ending the Zaytinya chef's run on the reality show.

But at least his departure gave Isabella an excuse to dish about the show, which he did today during a Q&A with WaPo readers. The highlights:

Vienna, Va.: Do you feel that you were presented fairly on the show? Were there aspects of your personality that didn't make the final cut, but that you wish had?

Mike Isabella: In certain things, yeah of course. The show is only so long, it's more of a competition. There's a lot of things I would have liked to come out, but didn't, but it happens.

How fast do the challenges happen?: It's difficult to tell from the TV show, but how often are the challenges coming at you? Are they every day? And do you get a chance to take a break or recover (or just catch up on sleep)?

Mike Isabella: Challenges are almost every single day. We don't get much recovery time at all. We don't get much sleep. The stronger ones survive. It's a tough competition regardless. There's no layover time. Not at all.

Arlington, Va.: So, you think no girl can top you as a cook? A chef? What makes you so sure?

Mike Isabella: That was a joke. I don't know why people take everything so seriously. I make a lot of jokes. I don't claim to be better than everybody else, but I try to win every day and be better every day myself.

I was raised in a broken family by my mother and my sister so I have plenty of respect for women. It was sarcastic. I'm friends with Jen also.

Washington, DC: Hi Mike.

Carla Hall (TC5-NY) once said (referring to Stefan's edit), "If you say it, they can play it." You were portrayed as cocky and sexist. Were your comments cut in out of context? Do you feel that you received a fair edit?

Mike Isabella: Um, you know, you say it, they play it, that's exactly right. Cocky? I can deal with that. Sexist? Not one bit. Not oooone bit.

Washington, D.C.: I'm sorry to see you go. Here is my question: How much is the Michael/Bryan rivalry played up by producers? Did this go on when the camera's weren't rolling? Thanks!

Mike Isabella: It was played up by producers. They're brothers. They love each other. There's some rivalry, but of course they're going to produce it because it's marketable.

Stone Ridge, Va.: Who would you rather have dinner with – Padma or Tom? Bryan or Michael?

Mike Isabella: Tom without a doubt. Tom's a chef. We relate. Padma — pbbbbtt — I wouldn't go out to dinner if she was buying. Just joking!

That's a tough one. I'd probably say Mike because he's on the west coast and I don't see him as much. They're both great people.

You can read the full Q&A here.

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