My Just Email Interview with Top Chef Just Desserts Matthew Petersen

I have said this before and I will say it again. I am a Top Chef fan.  I get a thrill out of eating food prepared by Top Cheftestants and a bigger thrill when I actually meet one.  You can only imagine how excited I was when I opened my email a few weeks ago to find an official press release about the upcoming season of Top Chef Just Desserts on Bravo, and an invitation to interview the locally-based Matthew Petersen.

The idea that I can actually connect with a cheftestant before the show even airs?  My heart begins to race.  I realize that my interview skills may be a bit lacking, so I immediately race down the hall to talk to a colleague who conducts interviews for her job, and is a fellow fan of the show.  We brainstorm possible questions. Now we are both excited.

The next email clarifies the offer as a telephone interview.  That’s fine.  Maybe it’s better.  I continue to ponder my questions.  A follow-up email asks about my deadline.  “I don’t have a deadline, I am a blogger,” I reply.  Uh, oh.  Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.  The next correspondence says that I can email my questions and Matthew’s responses will be sent back shortly thereafter.  Oh well. I will have to stalk meet Matthew another time.   Fortunately, I only have to go as far as the Mandarin Oriental.  In the meantime, here’s Matthew’s bio and my interview.

Matthew Petersen (

AGE: 32
HOMETOWN: Dublin, PA – currently resides in Arlington, VA
PROFESSION: Executive Pastry Chef, CityZen and Sou’Wester at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C.
CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S Baking and Pastry, Johnson and Wales

Matthew works as the Executive Pastry Chef at  CityZen and Sou’Wester, both located inside the Mandarin Oriental Hote in Washington, DC. Prior to landing in D.C. with James Beard Award Winner Eric Ziebold, Matthew worked for Daniel Boulud in New York City at db Bistro Moderne, and also served as Executive Pastry Chef at Café Boulud in Palm Beach for two years.Before moving to New York to work with Boulud, Matthew was the Pastry Chef at two of Philadelphia’s most coveted dining destinations – LaCroix and Morimoto. If he could have one last meal with anyone, it would be with his wife Laura, and they’d make BLT’s on fresh ciabatta bread with arugula salad with chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches for dessert.

“Been There/Eaten That” Interview with Matthew Petersen
Q:  What motivated you to audition for Top Chef Just Desserts?
A:  The desire to win 100,000 to purchase a home for my family, and I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

Q. Did you watch the first season of TC Just Desserts? If so, was there one particular challenge you hoped not to face?
A.  I did watch the first season.  There really wasn’t any challenge that I was like, “man I don’t want to have to do that.”  I wanted to do them all!
Q. Did you have a strategy for how you hoped to be portrayed as a “cheftestant”?  Did it work?
A. No, I was myself.  I don’t know, I haven’t seen the show!

Q. Why do you think challenge shows such as Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, and Top Chef Desserts are so popular?
A. Drama of course!  Oh and the talent level just keeps getting higher and higher and the chefs better and better.  It also helps that there are crazy challenges.

Q. Are you ready for the celebrity status that appearing on a show Top Chef can bring?
A. Well I’m not sure what that will mean for me but I love a good challenge.

Q. How would you characterize the group this season?  Collegial?  Catty?  Any dessert divas?
A. Can’t say, you’re just gonna have to watch what happens!

Q. How did you handle the stress of the competition?.  Do you believe like so many of us that since “desserts” is “stressed” spelled backwards, it’s the perfect antitode to extreme pressure?
A. I just tried to remain calm and focused, getting stressed out would not help wouldn’t help so I tried to remember that at all times.

Q. Where is your favorite place to get dessert (besides CityZen and Sou’wester)?
A. Truthfully, I don’t go out for dessert!  If I am at a place known for desserts I will certainly order but otherwise, I just stick to the savory.  I would say though that DBGB in NYC has some good stuff.

I can’t wait to watch Top Chef Just Desserts when it airs Wednesday, Aug. 24 on Bravo.   I’ll be cheering loudly for DC’s Matthew Petersen and figuring out just how quickly I can hightail it down to CityZen and or Sou’wester for my just desserts.


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