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Jen Carroll Dishes on 'Life After Top Chef'

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Jen Carroll is starting her third season of TV with Bravo, this time on Life After Top Chef, which airs at tonight at 10 p.m. This time around, the cameras follow former cheftestapants Richard Blais, Fabio Viviani, Spike Mendelsohn, and Carroll as they go about their daily lives after getting famous on the popular Bravo cooking competition.

Eater chats up Philly's favorite blonde bombshell about her upcoming place in NYC, the ins and outs of the new show, and what the cameras missed while she juggled family and career over the past 12 months.

How different was it filming a show with no clear end result like the competition on Top Chef?
It was very different. The plan wasn't really defined, I was on the phone a lot, and of course I spent a lot of time with my family taking care of them. But, there was plenty of drama when I was looking for a space for the restaurant.

Will the show cover that aspect of your restaurant opening?
Yes. I was definitely looking at restaurant spaces in Philly with a partner who ended up not being my partner. But, we don't mention any names, since we ended up going a different direction. But, you'll see me looking at spaces, which was a real stress at the time, and everything was up in the air.

Is much of the show about that stress?
No, I got the opportunity to do a lot of fun stuff with the other chefs, going fishing and doing events and stuff like that. It was nice to get the chance to do that. But, it was a struggle finding partners and a place to get my restaurant up and running. And my family has a pretty big part in the show, too. They needed a lot of help, and that's been a part of my life for awhile now.

Did seeing those guys have restaurants push you to open your place?
It has always been my dream and my goal to own my own restaurant, and I didn't need any more encouragement. And it stung a little to see them have that when I had been trying just as hard as they did. But, I am on the way now and can't wait to get the doors open.

How is Jen Carroll post-Life After Top Chef different than the one we will see on the show?
Not really at all. I mean, you'll get an inside look at a different person than the one who focused on competing and winning, but I have been driven to get my own restaurant up and running for a very long time. So, you'll see the same person that went into filming dedicated to getting my own place.

Are you upset that you ended up in NYC in stead of Philly?
Well, people think we're wealthy, but none of us are. We all need to pull a paycheck. And this was the right opportunity. You have to go where the opportunity pops up. We've got a ways to go on the spot in New York. I wanted stuff to work out in Philly with the first partnership, but it didn't. And I'm glad it didn't work out, as it wouldn't have been the right fit, after all. So, maybe I dodged a bullet.

What's the timeline for your restaurant?
It's 2013, but I don't want to say a season. So, I am not sure yet. We start demolition this weekend. I have been busy with the show, but filming is done now and I can focus all my energy there. The concept is still seafood-focused. But, we'll have a little of everything. It's nice to get back to cooking.

Are you doing a viewing party?
No, I am watching at home with my mom. It's a different vibe for the show, and it's not all fun and games, so it's not the kind of thing that works well with a party. So, we're watching it together.

Will there be more Life After Top Chef?
There have been absolutely no talks about the future, so I can't speak to that.

· All Life After Top Chef Coverage [~EPHI~]
· All Jen Carroll Coverage [~EPHI~]

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