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Of all of the Bravo's Top Chef challenges, none is more revered and feared among the contestants than Restaurant Wars. However, the stakes were even higher for the two teams in Season 18, who, instead of executing two pop-up restaurant concepts as usual, were tasked with serving the judges a seven-course tasting menu at each of their respective chef's tables due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
What didn't change was the fact that one chef still had to go home at the end of the Elimination Challenge. That was unfortunately Sara Hauman. Although the judges enjoyed her crispy salmon skin with pak choi, turnips, and hazelnut brown butter sauce, they weren't as big of fans of her other dish, a halibut crudo with ajo blanco sauce and confit green tomato.
Looking back on Restaurant Wars and her elimination is still a very emotional experience for Sara, as you can see in the Top Chef After Show, above. "You're gonna make me cry already," Sara exclaimed at the beginning of the clip. "Holy s--t!"
Sara went on to explain that she felt like the other components of running a chef's table during the challenge took focus away from preparing her dish. "That dish was for sure an afterthought because I had everything else on my shoulders. I was basically taking the entire stress load on myself, which is not fair," she said. "Do I wish someone would have stood up for me? Absolutely. But it's a game. I probably did put out the worst dish. For being judged on other things, you know, maybe I shouldn't have gone, but it was OK."
Following her time on Top Chef, Sara, who is currently the head chef at Soter Vineyards in Carlton, Oregon, has been thinking about where she wants to take her career next — and you probably won't find her in the kitchen of a restaurant anytime soon. "I don't really want to be the chef of a restaurant, and I think during 2020, a lot of chefs went out and did different things. It doesn't mean you're not a chef, it doesn't mean you're a bad chef, it just means you're doing something different," Sara shared. "And so, what I want to do is work with food in a different capacity that helps communities and helps the environment. I'm working my butt off. I have a million phone calls every day. It's so crazy."
In addition to impacting her professional life, competing on Top Chef has also had an effect on who Sara is as a person. "I've definitely been on a journey since I was away from the show. Just confidence everywhere, in my life and in cooking, and I need to be more confident," she said. "I just have been like, don't be scared. Anything that scares me or feels super uncomfortable, I just keep doing, and it's been great. It's been super great."
Press play on the above video to hear more from Sara, including what it meant to her to win the very first Elimination Challenge of the season and what it was really like watching herself on TV.
Want more Top Chef? New episodes air every Thursday at 8/7c or catch up on the Bravo app.
See how Sara fared in Last Chance Kitchen, below.
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