TorontoVerve recently met with the fashionable entrepreneur to talk about the show, men’s fashion and the wood in his pocket.
TorontoVerve: You’re probably sick and tired of talking about raw fried chicken now, right?
Michael Motamedi: I have a new look on fried chicken that’s for sure. For some reason, things don’t bother me much anymore. One day it bothers me and the next, I don’t even remember it happened. Everybody always asks me, ‘can you still eat fried chicken?’ I tell them, ‘listen, this happened months ago. I’m over it.’
TV: So what was your impression of Season 2’s finale?
MM: Actually, I didn’t watch it (laughs). I was lounging in an Infinity pool in Nicaragua. You might have noticed that I wasn’t on the finale. Shortly after I got knocked off, I found out my grandpa passed away. I had to fly to LA right away to be with my family.
TV: What would you have done if you weren’t kicked off when you were?
MM: I would have left anyways. That’s why I was at peace about leaving the show. My grandfather and I were pretty close. MasterChef is great and all, but….I live my life on respect. I have respect for people, respect for things and respect for life. Sometimes the respect you have for others outweighs your own interests.
TV: What was your least favourite experience on MasterChef Canada?
MM: The worst experience was dealing with some of the characters on the show, and they shall remain nameless. As much as they say in their interviews: ‘I’m not like that in real life.” I tell them, ‘No, you’re worse, dude.’ People tell me I was very arrogant on the show. Sorry. I’m not going to deny that’s who I was because that’s who I am.
TV: Are you happy with the way that you were portrayed on the show?
MM: Yes, I’m fine with it. The point of a TV show is to gain viewership. The show doesn't care about what contestants read at night. No, it's reality-television. They want us to cook, get stressed out and bother each other.
TV: On the show, there was a V on your pie, which you revealed on Twitter was the initial of the love of your life. Can you tell us more about who V is?
[Before Michael answered, I deduced that the love of his life is Vanessa — the young lady who accompanied us on our photoshoot and who was presently sitting at his side as we sipped drinks on the patio.]
MM: When we got together, it was an immediate sense of instinct where I told myself, ’Listen, buddy. You’re not going anywhere but up from here, ok? She’s the best thing that’s ever walked into your life.' She’s absolutely gorgeous, extremely smart and socially aware. Fortunately for me, she’s very fashion-oriented. Fashion is important. People say it’s superficial, but Tom Ford said, ‘Dressing is a form of good manners,’ and I believe that. So fashion’s not entirely superficial. She’s the whole package.
TV: How do you feel about your celebrity after the show?
MM: I was very social before MasterChef. People I knew always came up to me. I couldn’t walk down King street without 20 people saying hello. But now, random people off the street are coming up to me. The other day, I was going to a meeting and this really nice lady, who stopped me in the subway, totally walked out of her way to have a five minute conversation with me. It’s cool.
TV: What kind of kid were you growing up?
MM: I grew up in California. I was an only child. Pretty rambunctious. We weren’t the richest, but we had a comfortable life. The city I grew up in is what everyone calls "The Kardashian City": Calabasas. Nobody knew who the Kardashians were back then. I was very spoiled. My parents said, ‘After you, we’re not having more kids. That’s for sure (laughs).’ I always wanted to be the centre of attention.
TV: In a recent interview you said that you’re “very whitewashed.” How are you whitewashed?
MM: (Laughs) There are so many things about the Persian culture that I’m attracted to, but also a lot of things that I’m not. California Persians are all like me. They don’t speak Farsi much, they like to hang out in Malibu and surf. The Persians here (Toronto) always speak Farsi to each other and they’re always arguing over the bill. That’s not me.
TV: So when did you begin to take cooking seriously in your life?
MM: I always loved cooking, but I would say I took it seriously five years ago. Before that, I was like, ‘Hey, let’s make pasta Alfredo with shrimp.’ It tasted great. My dad would tell me to go to culinary school. But it really jump started three years ago when I met Vanessa. I guess I wanted to show off to her or maybe it was because she doesn't cook much (laughs). Food is fashion. I pride myself on plating food as much as I style myself. In my opinion, fashion is a lifestyle. It's more than clothes. It resides in your whole life. Now my food is looking sexier.
TV: How would you describe your style?
MM: Casual chic. If I wear a suit, I’m wearing Converse with it. Lately, I’m feeling super modern. I don’t want to wear ties because that’s too traditional. My life is really moving now. I’m into dressing modern because I’m looking forward to the future.
TV: How would you describe the state of men’s fashion in Toronto?
MM: It’s so awesome. It’s come so far in the last ten years. Toronto Men’s Fashion Week has a lot to do with it. The Gotstyle's of the world have a lot to do with it. The Harry Rosen’s aren't the big dogs anymore. You can go to a Bespoke tailor right now and spend seven hundred bucks for a tailor fit suit — that’s unheard of. Ten years ago, it was $2500. Young cats working at banks or tech guys making $100,000 a year can have the same wardrobe as a guy making $250,000 a year. Individuality is so cool. You see guys wearing red suits on a casual Monday afternoon. The cats I hang out with are going to the grocery store wearing a 3-piece suit (laughs). That’s cool!
TV: Nowadays, it seems like guys don’t want to experiment much with colour.
MM: That whole Rick Owens movement kinda put a hold on all that. His stuff is unbelievable, but it’s not my style. You know, that Kanye West black shirt-skirt type thing? Black on black on black on black. But men’s fashion is always evolving. I’m always evolving. Two months will go by and I won’t wear anything but a suit. Another two months goes by and I won’t touch a jacket. And then another month will go by and I’ll just wear v-neck t-shirts. It doesn’t matter what sort of evolution you have. Just evolve. There has to be movement in your life because sometimes life can be mundane. You can't easily change your 9 to 5 job, but you can easily change your style.
TV: What style tips can you give men for the summer?
MM: Keep it simple. You don’t always have to be formal to look good. I’m in a very cohesive state of mind right now. I’m wearing a white-collared shirt with white sneaks and blue pants. This watch ties it together nicely. I don’t like too much colour. I just keep it simple.
TV: Tell us about Baffi Collection.
MM: Baffi Collection started out with me and a buddy over drinks — that's how most great ideas start. Long story short, we invented the first wooden pocket squares. The thing I love about it is — again, it’s about evolution. There hasn’t been something in men’s fashion that’s changed in 50 years, but fashion has changed. I can say that we’ve invented something new. People are always scared of new things. Wooden pocket squares are our flagship product. We’re coming out with a lot of different shapes this season. The summer collection is absolutely amazing. We’ve learned a lot from our last collection. We had watermelon designs here, orange here and stripes there. Now we have paisleys, Spanish mosaics and florals. We also do lapel pins, which double as tie clips, and they’re all magnetized. We’re just signing a contract with Cuffwear to do a test piece with cufflinks in cufflink vending machines that are coming out.
TV: You and your partners were on another reality-TV show, Dragon's Den, which hasn’t aired yet. Can you share anything about that?
MM: We did go on Dragon’s Den for the Baffi Collection. There were a couple of Dragons that we wanted to get — so obviously we programmed our pitch to attract them. I won't say much else. The public will have to wait and see.
MM: My strategy was to have extreme confidence. Never show weakness. Even if I knew there were 10 things wrong with my dish, you better believe I’m still going to say it’s amazing. My second strategy was always do something unique. Every dish I made was completely weird and bizarre. Everything had a story behind it. Vanessa is my muse in my everyday life. She obviously played a role in my cooking. I’m a mama’s boy so my mother was also my inspiration. Inspiration is 50% of motivation.
TV: But you did show a little vulnerability when you were cooking the fried chicken.
MM: Well, I've never cooked fried chicken. Call me spoiled, I don’t frickin' de-bone chickens every day. I don’t chop them up.
TV: So you had to know how to cook fried chicken in advance? They don’t teach you?
MM: No, they don’t. And I was competing against Sabrina who probably grew up on a farm somewhere, and Line (pronounced “Lynn”) from Moncton who probably killed chickens with her bare hands every day. I don’t know chickens. I live in Toronto over a Loblaws.
TV: Ok, I have to ask — in your Baffi commercial, who came up with the funny double entendre: “is that wood in his pocket?”
MM: (Laughs) One of our investors came up with it. She’s hilarious. We all laughed our asses off. Who doesn’t want a little wood in their pocket?
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Follow Michael on Twitter and Instagram!
MasterChef Canada Season 3 casting is open now at CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada.
A special thanks to Gotstyle Distillery for opening their doors for our photoshoot!
Check out the Baffi Collection commercial below: