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After losing a team challenge where they were required to create a dish using two different flavor profiles, Bravo’s Top Chef all stars Nini Nguyen and Karen Akunowicz were told to pack their knives and go. But their journey didn’t end there, as they received the opportunity to enter Last Chance Kitchen to fight against last week’s champion, Lisa Fernandes, for a chance to rejoin the competition.
“There are two challenges between you and rejoining the competition. The two chefs who survive the first part, will then cook-off to get back in,” explained host Tom Colicchio. “If you lose the first challenge, you’re out. Your time on Top Chef is done.”
Because Nini and Karen were eliminated for creating a dish that was supposed to use two flavor profiles—umami and sour—but instead turned out sour and sweet.
“For tonight’s challenge, let’s see what happens when you make a sweet and sour dish on purpose,” said Tom of the challenge, which you can watch in the video above.
Karen, who created a sweet and sour shrimp with pickled pineapples dish, was not feeling great about her chances. “I don’t know that I have any gas left in my tank,” she said. “I’m pretty tired. I’m pretty over it. So, I guess we’ll just have to see.”
While whipping up a skirt steak with caramelized onions and a grilled fennel salad, Nini was feeling conflicted about the competition. “I’m torn emotionally,” she said. “I have to fight my best friend here, but how satisfying would it be to be eliminated, and then kick down the door and say, ‘I’m back?'”
Lisa, who went with tamarind scallops with kaffir lime potato chips recipe, was excited. “I’m pumped. Let’s go,” she said.
Ultimately, only one chef was declared the winner of the first challenge, while another all star was sent home. This left two chefs to compete in a final cook-off. To see who won the opportunity to return to Top Chef, check out the challenge below.
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