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Well, we didn't see that elimination coming. In fact, we've never seen a judges' table quite like the one that occurred on Thursday night's Top Chef ever in the whole history of the culinary competition. And yes, there are some MAJOR SPOILERS ahead.
In a shocking turn of events, Jamie Lynch offered to give up the immunity he had won immunity during the quickfire challenge in order to be judged just like any other contestant. And then things got even more shocking when the judges not only accepted Jamie's offer but also asked him to pack his knives and go.
Trust us, Jamie was just as shocked by the ruling. "I knew Tom [Colicchio] absolutely would [eliminate me] if they allowed it, but I was surprised that they decided on me, judging by the errors that other chefs made," he told Bravotv.com. "It was a surprise to me."
Though Jamie's fellow cheftestants and many Top Chef fans had trouble digesting his decision, he stands by his choice today. "When it came down to it, the judges were really harsh on my dish, and I felt that I was taking one for the team by using the crappy ingredients that we had. I felt like my dish was a little pedestrian but still decent. And the crowd that was at the party enjoyed it. People came back for more. I felt like the judges expected more from me, but I didn't make any egregious mistakes, and some of the other chefs did, to be honest. Casey [Thompson] served rotten scallops raw. In my head, I was thinking, 'There are bigger mistakes here to send somebody home,'" Jamie said. "And because my team ended up on the bottom because of my dish, I wanted to be judged like anybody else and let the judges decide if my dish was really as bad as I thought. That kind of fueled my decision."
Even though Jamie was eliminated, he said that he doesn't regret his decision. "If I were to return in another season, I would not do it that way again, but I don't regret doing it," he explained. "I felt like it was the right move."
Jamie said that he doesn't think the fact that he was safe from elimination made him more lax in the kitchen when he went to prepare his chicken satay during the elimination challenge. "I knew that I was doing a dish that I thought that I could execute well. I ran into some technical issues during the prep. The grill had been turned off that I was using to cook the chicken, so that was a major issue that affected the overall quality of my dish," he said. "At the end of the day, I made it work using that oven. Sure, it wasn't exactly how I wanted it and it would've been better had it been grilled. Part of the challenge is overcoming the adversity and getting it done. I don't think it affected my performance."
If Jamie didn't have immunity, he said he definitely wouldn't have taken on the chicken and peanut butter ingredients and would have instead opted for the lobster and truffles, which his teammate John Tesar used in his dish, which was more successful with the judges. But Jamie prepared the dish he did, and he has accepted the outcome. "It was kind of a mixed bag. Obviously, I was upset that they made that call. I didn't want to go. But at the end of the day, I feel like the worst dish went home," he said. "It's about performance. It's a competition. That's what it's about. My dish was not the best, so it sucked."
Luckily, Jamie has gotten a lot of support from fans who believe his time on Top Chef was cut short. "It feels good that people have my back a little bit, respect the decision that I made. I've got some haters too that think I'm a dumbass for doing it," Jamie shared. "But at the end of the day, you've got to live with yourself and live with the decision. I don't want to win because of immunity; I wanted to win for being the best. I think taking responsibility for your actions and the dishes you put out is important. I'm glad that people are commenting on that and taking it as that."
Since competing on Top Chef, Jamie said that he has been "bouncing around" his 5Church restaurants in Atlanta, Charleston, and Charlotte. He is also getting ready to cook at the James Beard House in New York next month.
Jamie said he still keeps in touch with many of the cheftestants on Season 14 of Top Chef. Yes, even his teammate Emily Hahn, who the judges would have sent home if he did not give up his immunity. "I'm not gonna hold a grudge, you know?" Jamie said.
In addition to friends, Jamie also gained a lot in terms of his culinary prowess during his time on Top Chef. "Everybody comes from such different backgrounds that was on the show. I learned a lot. I learned a lot of technique. I learned a lot of just approach, just flavors and stuff like that. Specifically, Shirley [Chung] and Sheldon [Simeon] have a different approach than I did," he said. "I feel like I've definitely taken some of that and I look at food differently than before I start drafting menus and doing stuff like that."
But if Jamie had to do his Top Chef experience all over again, would he change anything? "No, I think I played the game the best I could. I feel like the new [contestants] definitely had a disadvantage being in the kitchen for the first time and not knowing where things were and that kind of stuff. It takes a minute to get acclimated" he said. "So just keeping that in mind, I feel like I did a really good job. I feel like I represented well."
See what's in store for the remaining cheftestants as Restaurant Wars kicks off next Thursday at 9/8c.