updated 07/26/2012 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/26/2012 AT 10:40 AM ET
If you watched the season premiere of Top Chef: Masters, you’re probably wondering how New York City chef Missy Robbins is doing after a bad accident in the kitchen.
Spoiler alert! If you don’t want to know details of Wednesday’s episode, do not read on.
Robbins had to drop out of the competition on the first day after she severely sliced her left pinkie while cutting zucchini on a mandolin.
“I’ve been cooking for 20 years and nothing like this has ever happened before,” she tells PEOPLE. “I basically took off the top layer of my skin.”
Initially, Robbins thought about staying in the competition – even after an emergency room doctor told her she needed a skin graft.
“I was debating whether to continue but I picked up a knife and it was so painful that I realized I was not going to be able to compete at the level I needed to,” she says. Two days later she was having skin graft surgery back in New York – and beginning her long road to recovery.
“I was out of work for two weeks,” she continues. “My whole arm was wrapped in a sling and immobilized so it didn’t move. Then doctors don’t want me near heat so I wasn’t in the kitchen chopping for another month or two.”
Fortunately, after physical therapy sessions twice a week, the award-winning chef is back to whipping up dishes – chopping included – at her A Voce restaurants.
“I was cautious at first but I’m fine now,” she says. “My pinkie still hurts on occasion. And I don’t hold my knife the same. I look down and my pinkie is out like you would hold a teacup.”
Despite an offer to compete in the next season of Top Chef Masters, Robbins is not sure she’s ready to pack her knives and return to the show. “I haven’t said no, but it was pretty traumatic and I’m not sure I want to relive it,” she says.
She is sure, however, about who she thinks will win Top Chef: Masters this season. “My call would definitely be Chris [Cosentino],” she says of the offal aficionado. “He’s just got something that other people don’t have.”