Justin Antiorio: No looking back for ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ alum

Justin Antiorio could have hidden behind his apron and given up on the dream. Just a month ago, he stood in “Hell’s Kitchen” and the knob didn’t turn, as he finished runner-up to Philadelphia’s own chef Christina Wilson.

But Antiorio holds no grudges. Not against Wilson. Not against tempestuous host chef Gordon Ramsay.

“‘Hell’s Kitchen’ is a stepping stone, but I don’t think it made a difference in how far I’d be in my career,” says the 30-year-old chef. “I went out there with, ‘America, here’s my résumé.’ I have my own style, and I just put it out there and I have no regrets about anything at all.”

Antiorio will be in town Friday night at the 2012 TASTE Philadelphia Festival of Food, Wine and Spirits at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks. He’ll be cooking a particular seafood item that has become a bit of a sore spot.

“Seared scallops with cauliflower puree — very fall dish,” he says. “A lot of people think the chefs on ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ can’t cook scallops. Come out and see me cook scallops right in front of your face — maybe I’ll screw up, you never know.”

While Antiorio harbors no ill will toward the reality show that launched his semi-celebrity status, he does admit that he doesn’t think his style was appropriate for Ramsay’s Las Vegas steakhouse. “The restaurant that chef wanted Christina to run [Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas] is a steakhouse — that’s really not what I do,” says Antiorio. “I’m really eclectic in my techniques, really more than steakhouse-style.”

NY vs. Philly

Antiorio hails from Lyndhurst, N.J., a suburb of New York City. While he made sure to compliment the creative things happening in the Philly restaurant scene, specifically Stephen Starr, he also hyped up his own metropolis.

“New York City is the food capital of the world,” he said. “Philly is more, the people eat what you give them. New York is make what the people want, so it’s a little different.”

If you go

The 2012 TASTE Philadelphia Festival (Friday-Sunday, Greater Philadelphia Expo Center) features cooking demos and wine and beer seminars with celebrity chefs and Ms. Skinnygirl herself, Bethenny Frankel. Tickets, starting at $45, are available at www.gourmetshows.com.

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