When Chef Tiffani Faison was recently asked by a reporter why she keeps doing more Top Chef shows, she joked that she didn’t really have a good answer. “My therapist and I are working on it,” she said, alluding to her fun, but challenging times while competing on the original show, the All-Stars edition, and Bravo’s newest iteration, “Top Chef Duels.” “It’s so much fun, even when it’s super-stressful and you kind of want to throw up, it’s still fun.”
Faison, who is currently sailing to Alaska aboard Celebrity Solstice as part of the Top Chef at Sea series, has been working in restaurants since she was 14. Most recently, the Boston-based Faison was invited to run Rocca Kitchen & Bar and opened her own restaurant, Sweet Cheeks.
We recently caught up with her to discuss her inspirations and more.
If you were stuck on an island with three ingredients, what would you choose and why?
I assume we’re playing the survivalist/ things-you-love game, here so I would choose salt—it’s the most basic seasoning and is also a preserve, so if I caught extra fish, I could preserve it. I would also choose olive oil, for its deliciousness, fat and versatility. Finally, I would choose Alex’s Ugly Sauce—it’s a local hot sauce that I love, and if everything went terribly wrong, at least I could choke it all down and mask it with hot sauce.
What part of the world inspires your cuisine? What country would you like to travel to and why?
I grew up traveling the world, so I’m inspired by so, so much. I don’t think there is a country or region that doesn’t inspire me with either ingredients, culture, tradition or technique.
If you could open a restaurant with a Top Chef contestant from another season, who would you choose and why?
That’s an interesting one and a hard one. I think the food would figure itself out, so I would have to pick someone that I really love being around. Maybe either Dale Levitsky, Elia Aboumrad, Brooke Williamson or Art Smith.
If you were not a chef, what would you be doing right now?
I would probably either be a lawyer or in politics.
Who inspired your love of food?
I think the way I grew up and the influence of my parents influenced my love of food. My parents never let us live on a military base, they always kept us entrenched in local culture. We had a saying in my house, “You don’t have to like it, but you have to try it.” It kept my mind open. I’m a naturally creative person, so I think food just became a very natural canvas.