Catching Up With Top Chef's Yigit Pura


By Phillip B. Crook

Wait, so you think Morgan is gay?
If he's gay or if he's straight, that's none of my business. I think we owe each other the respect to be human beings no matter what the case is. And I have an answer for you for Morgan's candy: black licorice. It's something that I've tried to like over the years and every time I have a bite I have a really bad taste in my mouth.

Inspiring and supporting the LGBTQ community seems to be very important to you. How are you planning to use your platform as the first gay Top Chef winner?
I'm really honored by that. I knew if I won it would be a huge pinnacle for my career. As a gay man, to win this was really important to me because I wanted the rest of America to see that not all gay men and lesbians and transgender people fit into these stereotypes. Being gay has nothing to do with the person that you are. I was actually just contacted by the HRC to do some work with them. I just hope that my kids growing up -- I need a husband for that first -- won't even have to think about gay rights. I know that's going to take a lot of work, so if I can have a little voice in that, I'd be more than honored to.

There's been buzz that you and Zac should do a show together. How do you feel about these as potential titles? Go Diva!
I love it. Zac had this idea that -- you know how Bravo has Tabatha's Salon Takeover? -- there are so many great restaurants out there with mediocre desserts because often times they can't afford that pastry chef. So, we figured we'd be the Go Divas! to the rescue and revamp their pastry kitchens.

Well how about Disco Dust or Turkish Delight?
Yeah, I think those would be the individual titles for our own shows.

For the Godiva challenge, you made a dessert inspired by your first date with your then-boyfriend. But you're no longer together, so what was that like to watch? Most of us don't live out our relationships on TV.
And most of us don't live out our breakups on TV either. But my ex-boyfriend is a great guy and I have nothing but love and admiration for him. When I returned, we parted ways for our own reasons and the healing of a heart takes time. But watching that I was actually really happy because I realized that I was truly in love. There's nothing wrong with that.

Would you give us a little taste of what your single life is like now?
My single life is packed with work and trying to be creative and keep this momentum going. When the right time and the right man come along, I'm certainly not opposed to that. Write that up for Ricky Martin and send it over to him.

Maybe Mr. Right is Gail Simmons. She really blossomed as the Just Desserts host and it's no secret that you were lady-crushing on her all season.
How can you not lady-crush on her? She's so adorable. She had her cold moments, like Padma, when she needed to do it for television, but I could see right through her. Gail has the softest and warmest heart. When she announced my name as the winner, I could just see that smile on her face and after that I blacked out for a few seconds until she came over and gave me a hug. She's tremendous. I love her.

So when you took the judges on a culinary date for the final challenge, really you were just asking Gail out.
I don't know if I was asking Gail out but now that she said she wants to bathe in my milk jam, when I go back to work I'm going to have to make a 60-liter batch of milk jam and send it to her office in New York. But Gail did promise me that when this was all over we'd have a date to go shoe shopping.

Now the truth comes out. How much of your crush came from shoe-envy?
Oh, a lot of it.

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Tags: Television