Jamie Lynch is a New York native with a New England culinary degree. He had stints in notable kitchens in spots like San Francisco and New York City before moving to Charlotte in 2002. But since he and his partners opened 5Church here in 2012—followed by 5Church in Charleston in 2015 and in Atlanta in 2016—the South has officially adopted this talented 41-year-old chef as its own. This fall, the 5Church executive chef got seriously Southern when Top Chef: Charleston premiered with him as one of 16 contestants on the popular Bravo series. As the season—and the competition—heats up, we caught up with Lynch to get the dish on his prep for the show and plans for what’s next.
What made you decide to do Top Chef?
Top Chef reached out to me because of our restaurant in Charleston—where this season was filmed. It was an opportunity that doesn’t happen everyday, and it would have been foolish to let it pass by.
Did you have any strategies going into the show or specific ideas about how to present yourself to the viewers?
Strategy is my strength! I just wanted to play the game with integrity and not get wrapped up into the drama.
Have you been watching the show as it airs? What’s that like?
I do watch and it’s weird noticing the quirky things I do.
Did it ever get less intimidating to cook for Tom Colicchio as the season went on?
Yeah, when you get further along into the competition, you develop an idea of what the judges are looking for and it builds confidence about what you are preparing.
Three successful restaurants in three cities, national fame—what can we look for next from you?
Cooking at the James Beard House in New York City in February. It’s a big deal for me to be cooking in New York again under these particular circumstances.
Photo by George Lainis