CJ Jacobson's elimination from season 10 of Top Chef was one that many thought came too early, so in turn, he went ahead and proved just that in Last Chance Kitchen by winning it a record six times in a row. So this week when perhaps the biggest shocker elimination of the season took place as Kristen Kish fell on her sword for her Restaurant Wars errors, an epic LCK battle loomed. Haven't seen it yet? Please, watch below before we spoil things for you.
OK... so, as you can see, CJ was ousted by Kristen in LCK, which now drops "Big Ceej" into Save a Chef, which Kuniko Yagi has dominated SAC for six weeks as well (after, somewhat poetically, being knocked out of LCK by CJ and Tyler Wiard). It's an epic battle of two of the season's strongest competitors, and we caught up with CJ to reflect on his LCK run, the fact that Kristen got the boot before Josie, and how John Tesar is a "walking, talking root canal." CJ, in his own words, below -- and if you haven't voted in Save a Chef this week, do it now!:
You had quite the record run on LCK. At any point did you think you might blow through the whole thing to the end?
I knew beating Kuniko was huge. She is an absolute talent and a darling to boot. I respect her a ton as do the cheftestants. I knew if I beat her I could gain the support of the others in the house that got eliminated and that's what happened.
I was pretty sour after losing in a team challenge ... obviously. I wasn't true to my food, I deviated from my game plan and I went out looking arrogant and childish -- not ideal. I wanted redemption.
Which LCK victory was the most satisfying?
Beating John was the most satisfying. Up until I got to know him at the elimination house he was quite the villain. He was irritating -- like a walking, talking root canal. Actually I might have preferred that more. He's also super talented, driven and has a passion for food that is unparalleled in this competition. He literally knows everything and f----- loves it. I greatly admire that. He is largely misunderstood.
What was your first thought when you saw Kristen walk in as your competition?
I was so damn surprised. There is a lot of speculation and guessing behind the scenes. I was so ready to crush Josie ... but that didn't happen. It was almost a joke. Production really never said anything but might have steered my thoughts to what I wanted. I was shocked. I knew something had to have been screwy.
Did you watch the Restaurant Wars ep? What are your thoughts on what went down?
I did watch Restaurant Wars and I, like America, do believe that Josie should have gone home. Stefan, once again, got lucky. He seemed the worst offender from what I saw. Kristen did what is in line with her character; she did the right thing. That girl is an A+ on so many levels: Talent, integrity, poise and creativity. And she's fricking beautiful. It's sometimes strange to watch her as she's so pretty. I mean, sounds come out of her head -- it's amazing she walks among us.
Now you're in Save a Chef going against Kuniko, and if you win, the rest of the gang. What is your battle plan?
My battle plan is to engage my fans, respond to them and be gracious. I also know I must be persistent as my fans are my sole way in.
Kuniko's got quite the "Army." Who's the captain and some generals of the CJ Army?
I don't have a captain. I have people that have organically come out of the woodwork that want me to win. It's kind of amazing.
Was showing how improved of a chef you've become since last time the biggest reason to return to the show?
The show is fun. It's crazy, it's annoying, it's mind-boggling. It's really hard and its a great test. I love challenges to death and coming back better was just icing on the cake.
If fans took anything away from your time on the show this season, what do you want it to be?
Don't go safe in team competitions.
Have the chefs as a whole in the competition gotten better since your original cast?
As a whole group chefs in this season were better. There was also a maturity aspect that was nicer. Everyone was a restaurant chef; there were no caterers or nutritionists or private chefs. It makes a difference.
Aside from your Save a Chef chances, who would you like to see take it all home if it's not you?
I think I'd like to see Brooke or Sheldon. I have become friends with both. Brooke is easily the most complete chef in the competition. I feel like Sheldon has something burning inside of him. I like that. We share that. He's gonna say something with food -- watch what happens