Throughout an hour-long episode in which Morgan Wilson exuded an unimpeachable confidence in himself, the Dallas-based pastry chef did not triumph on Wednesday's Top Chef: Just Desserts finale. The crown went to finalist Yigit Pura.
Maybe it came down to Wilson's souffles, some of which collapsed in the final challenge -- a four-course dessert tasting. But Wilson, executive pastry chef for the Lobby Lounge, a restaurant inside the Ritz-Carlton Dallas, was gracious in defeat, hugging Pura after he won.
And despite what Wilson told me in our interview on Monday (see below), implying disdain for his two remaining fellow finalists, he had kind words for Pura on Wednesday's finale. "I'm extremely proud of Yigit winning," Wilson told the Top Chef cameras. "There is nobody in this competition I would feel better about losing to."
Below is my Q&A with Wilson from Monday.
One of life’s purest, most comforting joys is dessert. But on Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts, things have felt as comforting as a hand caught in the flame of a creme brulee torch.
When the series airs its finale on Wednesday, the final three will include Dallas resident Morgan Wilson, executive pastry chef for the Lobby Lounge, a restaurant inside the Ritz-Carlton Dallas. He's up against Yigit Pura and Danielle Keene for the win.
Wilson has been a key part of the show’s dramatic tension. There’s clearly been no love lost among Wilson, an alpha male, and some of the other contestants — namely the self-dubbed Team Go Diva, which included Yigit Pura and Zac Young — who are both gay. (Team Go Diva's bitchiness has sparked equal ire from viewers.) Wilson clearly had no patience for Young, calling him out for acting like “a little girl.” And in an online promo clip for Wednesday’s finale, Wilson says: “Zac is an annoying little fairy.”
In a phone chat with Wilson on Monday morning, he addressed some of the conflict, his women’s shoe fetish, and let us in on some of his favorite places to eat in DFW.
DFW.com: So, is it the way the show edited, or was there just rampant conflict between you and Team Go Diva?
Morgan Wilson: How it happened on show is how it happened. I am bigger than most people, both physically and internally. I have a bit more of a presence. And some find it to be ... I don’t know ... obnoxious? I tell the truth — always. And sometimes it isn’t the awesomest thing to hear in the world. I don’t ever try to hurt anybody’s feelings. It’s just this default of brutal honesty. And often times I should probably sit down and try to consider it for a good couple of hours before I vomit. ... These people on the show go into their little interviews and they bash me. They have plenty of mean things to say about me. It’s pretty hard to find me saying mean things about anybody else, because I don’t feel mean things towards people.
DFW.com: Have you seen how you’re characterized on some of the blogs?
MW: I’ve read some blogs, and I’ve had some lovely interaction with fans. It’s easy for someone to sit at home and watch an hour program and form an opinion about you. There is one word that keeps getting thrown around that I feel is unfair, because I consider myself a humble person: I’m not an arrogant person, I’m just a confident person. There is a big difference.
DFW.com: Especially in the wake of all the recent publicity about gay bullying, do you regret any of your word choices, like calling Zac a “little girl,” or “an annoying little fairy”?
MW: I don’t think I called anyone a fairy, but I called Zac a little girl, but he referred to himself as a girl, constantly. It’s only a natural reaction. I’m definitely not homophobic, by any definition — not even remotely close. My issue with anyone is never their sexuality but for example, Zac could be a straight male who is loud and annoying ... always, and it just grates on your nerves when you just want a little peace and quiet. You live in a house that’s one big open area, yeah, the overwhelming urge to force quiet upon someone is tempting. It has nothing to do with who he likes to hang out with. It’s funny, because my favorite person hands-down is Eric [who is gay]. He’s one of most beautiful men on the planet. He’s just such a sweet, calm, gentle giant. Talking with him last week, he said: “I don’t get enough credit for being gay. Zac and Yigit stole all my gay.”
DFW.com: Since we're talking with you before the finale airs on Wednesday, we know you can't spill the beans. But what can you tell us about what you were feeling going into the final? Any nerves, or are you a complete man of steel?
MW: There are nerves every day. It’s a really long process that’s exhausting. You’re nervous going into it, and tired and worn out, and wondering if there’s gonna be any creativity left in the tank. It just consumes you, pretty much. So it’s a tough thing, going into the last hurrah.
DFW.com: If you had to pick someone other than yourself to be the winner, who would it be?
MW: [Laughs heartily] Can I pick Eric? Do they still have to be in it, because if I had to pick somebody it’d be Eric. He’s obviously not an option. I certainly don’t see myself getting beaten by many, that’s for sure.
DFW.com: In the fashion challenge, you got a lot of ribbing for getting so excited over being able to use a pair of women’s heels for inspiration. Inquiring minds want to know: do you have a shoe fetish?
MW: I’m not sure there’s a fetish, but I guess that would be the definition of it. Women complain that your shoes are uncomfortable, but your shoes are beautiful. And guys’ shoes are kind of boring. Women’s shoes are always sort of sculpted and artistic, so just from an artist’s perspective, it’s something to appreciate. A funny side note to that story: I was in Aldo last week, and I bought the shoes that I based that dress on for my girlfriend.
DFW.com: Aside from where you work, what are your favorite places to eat in DFW?
MW: I love Fearings. It’s awesome and I love the feel, I always feel like I’m eating at home. Awaji in Plano is one of my favorites. There’s a sushi chef there by name of Ryan who is brilliant and I can always just go in there and say: “Make something.” I eat quite a bit of Thai food, I eat at Mango quite a bit.
DFW.com: What about Mexican food?
MW: I spend a lot of time in Grapevine, and my favorite place is [El] Taco H, for cheap, delicious, authentic tacos: they’re $1.25 a taco, and you walk out with a dozen tacos. You can feed four people, and you spend nothing. Right next door is Baja [Mexican Grill], and the margaritas are massive and really strong and super-good, and Esparza’s in Grapevine — their margaritas will kick your butt.