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Top Chef competitor and judge Stefan Richter

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Chef Stefan Richter divides his time between restaurants in Los Angeles and Finland.

LOS ANGELES, Calif,—Best known for his appearances on Top Chef, Stefan’s at L.A. Farm Chef/owner Stefan Richter continues to run his popular restaurant and catering company both in Los Angeles. Never shy, his personality and talent made him a fan favorite during Season 5 of the Bravo series so he was invited back for Season 10.

The busy entrepreneur has added three restaurants in his native Finland all named Stefan’s Steakhouse. More are in the works. He spends as much of his summers as he can in Finland hunting and fishing. It was there in a role reversal, he served as a judge on Finland’s Top Chef.

I sat down with him recently at his restaurant in Los Angeles where the opinionated chef shared some thoughts:

I put in 80 to 100 hours a week. When you are self-employed, work never ends.

When I was 8, I went to my mom’s workplace after school where she cooked as a chef and there was a hot pastry girl who worked with her. That’s why I went back for more!

If not a chef, I would be a prosecutor. I like to argue and I love facts.

My own restaurant is not my favorite, believe it or not. I like simple places like Upper West in Santa Monica, which has great dirty martinis. When I ask for dirty, I get dirty!

Finland is definitely catching up to the diverse food scene in LA. There are a lot of great chefs in Europe and America. Everywhere seems to now have great produce and mini this and mini that, so chefs can be creative anywhere in the world.

My food is basic, simple and easy. Good food with no fuss, no BS and no drama.

I can find inspiration anywhere. I could be traveling or at a local farmer’s market eating something yummy and get inspired. During summers in Finland I spend most of my time fishing and gathering inspiration for new dish ideas. I’ve partnered with Sea Cuisine recently, a brand that offers a variety of high-quality seafood products that are inspired by the world. Knowing their message was about inspiration excited me – as I am always on the lookout for new flavor profiles, and they are too!

I enjoy the idea of being on TV and had fun messing with people on Top Chef —it’s all in good fun for the show.

The second time on the show you realize it is TV and yes, it was easier knowing what comes at you. But my heart rate still went up every time I got to judges table.

Working in a team with so many different people (on Top Chef) is just hard. There are too many ideas floating around making it the process more complicated than it needs to be. The easiest challenges are the Quickfires.

Being a judge on Finland’s Top Chef was fun and equally hard. Maybe a tad more booze as a judge, along with more freedom. But trust me, it is hard being a judge.

I love cod. It is a really easy fish to prepare, and not to mention it is super flaky and yummy. You can use cod to create basically any dish. Fish and chips, beer battered, baked, seared, and so on.

Because I am always entertaining at my restaurant, I don’t cook that much at home. But again when I do I like easy recipes that I can whip up and that taste good. I have a new fish sandwich recipe, or fish taco recipe that I love. I also just put in a sauna so that’s a perfect way to end the night with friends!

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