Catching Up With Top Chef's Yigit Pura


By Phillip B. Crook

It wouldn't have mattered whether pastry master Yigit Pura won or lost the first season of Top Chef: Just Desserts. He'd already won himself a legion of gay fans devoted to his puppy-dog eyes and sweetheart disposition. But after the 29-year-old Turkish-American became the first gay winner of any Top Chef, we caught up with him to get the dish on Gail Simmons's shoe closet, combating homophobia on TV, and his giant crush on Ricky Martin.

Out: Let's start by playing a game called Man Candy. I'll name a man and you describe what he'd taste like if he were a dessert.
Yigit Pura: [laughs] Ok.

Zac Young [friend and Top Chef: Just Desserts competitor].
[Laughs even louder] Sour Patch Kids.

Hubert Keller.
Something classic and elegant where every bite brings a little more flavor into your mouth, but it's all very gentlemanly.

Yigit Pura.
I'm going to have to leave that to your readers to decide.

Ricky Martin.
Wow, you know, I never used to be a fan of Ricky Martin, but when I saw him on Oprah a few weeks ago, I actually had some flutters. I think I fell in love. If Out could ever make that happen, I'd be more than open to it'

I'll see what I can do. How about Johnny Weir?
A good chocolate 'clair: shiny and tasty and cream-filled.

Morgan Wilson [Top Chef: Just Desserts competitor].
Oh god. He would have to be a very complex and angry dessert, so'let me get back to you on that one.

How did you react to the homophobic comments Morgan made all season, which seemed to become more numerous as the finale got closer?
He made a comment about how he felt so isolated being there. He hated it because he was surrounded by gay men and women. At that point my lid kind of flipped and I told him, 'You have no idea what it means to be isolated. Most gay youth have to go through their entire lives like this and the fact that you can't relate to people because they're female or because of their sexual orientation says nothing about their personality. It just means you're closed-minded and have no compassion.' It's really kind of pathetic and sad.

Was he in the back of your mind when you filmed your video for the "It Gets Better" Project?
Definitely. I can't imagine any gay youth, including myself, who didn't think about suicide when you were coming out. I had a hard time with that. I started thinking about Morgan and how he kept calling Zac a fairy and a little girl. When you make an insult toward a gay person, you make an insult toward me and every gay man, lesbian, transgender, or questioning youth in the country.

Do you think it's different when Morgan calls Zac a little girl and when you call him your little sister?
It's absolutely very different because when I call Zac my little sister, he is like my little sister or little brother. Zac and I have that kind of rapport. I think it depends on the context in which you say it. Morgan's comment was definitely meant in a derogatory term. Any man who has to reiterate that he's a heterosexual man repeatedly, there's usually a little something missing in that link.

Tags: Television