Mia Gaines-Alt got a belated birthday surprise Wednesday, though it wasn't a good one. Two days after she turned 33, she watched while she kicked herself off the Bravo network reality cooking show "Top Chef."
She knew what was going to happen because most of the season was filmed over the summer. She just wasn't expecting the world -- or at least a small slice of it -- to see her get kicked off the week of her birthday.
"(My family and I) all cried and watched it together," Gaines-Alt said. "I knew it was coming, but we figured it was not going to air until Christmas week."
In this week's show, Gaines-Alt was on the losing side of a two-team challenge in which each team attempted to outcater the other at a cocktail party. Just as it looked as if the judges were going to give her team leader, Elia Aboumrad, the boot, Gaines-Alt stepped in and offered to go home instead.
Even after watching herself give up a chance for $100,000 and a feature in Food & Wine magazine, she still believes it was the right call.
"I always have to be satisfied with the decisions I make," said Gaines-Alt, who owns Feed the People, a barbecue restaurant in Oakdale. "I realized that there was no way they were going to give (Elia) a second chance. I understand it is a competition, but I'm only human. … She may not have even had a job to go back to after the competition. I already have something to go back to."
One bit of good news for Miss Josette Eber is that "the exposure from the show has improved business at Feed the People. 'Even before the show actually aired, the buzz went out and the place was packed,' Gaines-Alt said. "A lot of that has died away, but we are consistent now. … If anything, I might need a bigger location. It's kind of frustrating for people who come out here from Modesto but can't get in right away because there is a line."
As Miss XaXa found out in person, those Modestans are in for some good beans and 'cue.