Here is an interview with Bri Kozior:
Who is your primary cooking inspiration?
Alice Waters! I read "40 years of Chez Panisse" Every morning for three weeks straight while waiting to go compete in the "MasterChef" kitchen. It's a memoir (my favorite genre), and I've never been so inspired by a book (or someone's story of hard work and success) in my life.
What are your favorite food blogs (besides your own)?
I wish I had more time to sit on the computer and follow food blogs but I don't! I am, however, obsessed with Instagram. Some of my favorite food Instagramers are @aprilbloomfield, @georgiepuddingnpie, and @joythebaker.
What is your favorite/least favorite dish to eat?
My favorite foods are a bit weird (shocking). I really love celery and littleneck clams and black olives, though not together. They're all nostalgic foods for me. But if I had to choose a favorite meal, it would be a dish I had in Venice, Italy: spaghetti with local clams in a saffron sauce. I've been trying to recreate the flavors for the past two years and I'm getting really close! My least favorite dish to eat would be anything my mom forced me to eat growing up (sorry mom). Her attempt at being a suburban housewife in Bucks County was making weird gumbos and chicken dishes and taco casseroles. It would literally bring me to tears.
What is your favorite go-to dish to bring to a potluck?
I have never been to a potluck! Can you believe it?! Please invite me to one, and I will bring my black bean burgers.
What is your favorite/least favorite type of cuisine and why?
Here's the thing. I'm obsessed with dim sum. We'll leave it at that. But if I had to choose a cuisine to eat AND cook, it would probably be Mexican food. I love the freshness and boldness of the flavors, and the fact that you can turn a dish from street food to elegant with the addition of a few ingredients and some finesse. My least favorite type of cuisine is … fast food? Does that count?
What travel destinations have you either been to or want to travel to for food inspiration?
I'm fortunate enough to have traveled a lot. I've been to 15 countries in the past five years and lived in Australia and Germany, which were amazing, but I did not like the food in Australia! I've never been to Asia and would love to make it my next food destination. My biggest food inspiration would definitely be Italy. I backpacked Europe with one of my best friends, and by backpacked, I obviously mean "ate our way through six countries." But seeing the way food is viewed, eaten, spoken about and prepared in Italy is inspirational. It's truly a way of life.
What are your top 3 songs to cook to?
"I Knew You Were Trouble" by Taylor Swift, "Playing for Keeps" by Elle King, and "I Found You" by The Alabama Shakes.
Why did you want to be a contestant?
A lot of people have a presumption that you cannot be vegetarian and a chef. That you must A. be a vegetarian chef or B. not be anything at all and go live your life growing veggies and listening to Joni Mitchell. But that's not true! (Well, most of it.) Just because I don't eat meat doesn't mean I don't know how to cook it. I'm sure there are plenty of chefs out there who dislike certain foods but have to cook with them anyway. That doesn't mean they don't know what they're doing. That was something I set out to prove to America and myself this season. That vegetarian is just a label, but chef is true talent.
What is your favorite comfort food and why?
Vegetable lo mein! Growing up, I used to fake sick so I wouldn't have to go to school, and my mom and her best friend would always take me out for Chinese food. To this day, I still refuse to take medicine and truly believe that the only cure for 99% of my sicknesses is lo mein.
Pick 3 words that define what meals with friends and family mean to you.
In the movie "Eat, Pray, Love," Julia Roberts' character talks about the perfect Italian word, "attraversiamo." It means, "let's cross over." But rather than it describe love, as it does for her, I think of it as the perfect word to describe meals with friends and family. Cooking a meal for friends and family and putting one hundred percent of your love into that food is a really special thing. When you eat that meal together, the best way for me to describe it is that "attraversiamo" feeling: Crossing over with your loved ones to a place that only good food and true happiness can take you, even if only for a moment.