There have been two weeks of eliminations in season 19 of “Top Chef,” which means it was time for those two ousted chefs to square off in the season premiere of “Last Chance Kitchen” to see who will get to keep fighting for a return to the main competition. Watch this week’s entire episode above.
In “Last Chance Kitchen,” eliminated chefs face off against each other in a head-to-head match-up judged only by Tom Colicchio. The winner stays alive and the loser is out for good. Being the first chefs eliminated, however, makes it that much tougher because you need to beat a string of eliminated chefs in a row without losing a single face-off to get back in the game. In this opening battle, Leia Gaccione (eliminated in “Primal Instincts“) went up against Stephanie Miller (eliminated in “Friday Night Bites“). Their challenge: Since neither was on the show for long enough to get experience with local Houston delicacies, they would have to use a very unusual delicacy in this competition.
Leia the first to select one of two secret ingredients. Hers turned out to be rattlesnake, which left Stephanie with the other option, alligator. It seemed like Stephanie had lucked out since she had tasted alligator before, while Leia had no experience whatsoever with rattlesnake. But both decided to fry their meats, and both incorporated grapefruit, so their similar preparations would make for a suitable comparison.
Leia ended up presenting cornmeal fried rattlesnake with grapefruit jicama salad and yogurt grapefruit shmear. Stephanie countered with pepper soda marinated fried alligator, lemon and chermoula sauce with sliced grapefruit and scallions. But while Tom thought both did an impressive job with uncommon meats they had never cooked before, he declared Leia the winner for having a more balanced dish while Stephanie’s alligator was a little bland and needed more seasoning. So Stephanie is officially eliminated, while Leia still has to fight her way through several more challengers in order to win back her spot in the competition.
“This is what I live for,” said Leia. “I love the rush. I love the adrenaline. I feel like I’m on top of the world and I just want to keep the momentum going and I’m ready to get back in the kitchen and get at it one more time.”
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