Star Scrapbook: Viet Pham

Viet Pham was the fifth finalist eliminated on Food Network Star, Season 9. Flip through his personal photo journal to relive the most memorable moments from his time on the show.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Nathaniel Chadwick/Creel Films ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Nathaniel Chadwick/Creel Films ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Nathaniel Chadwick/Creel Films ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Viet Pham

A James Beard Award semi-finalist and restaurant owner, Viet was the fifth finalist eliminated from the competition. Alton Brown told him he has "charm to spare," but ultimately Viet's awkward camera presence and inability to relax in front of an audience forced his exit. "When that camera turns on, my nerves automatically turn on," he said in the last week of the contest.

Big Dreams

The finalists were given journals to use during their time on the show, and Viet filled his with go-to recipe ideas, uplifting quotes and penned doodles. Here, he jotted down his hopes for the future: "I plan to be the best that I can be within my capacity ... I want to make a difference in people, my community — the world."

Embracing the Past

In his premiere pitch tape, Viet spoke of his family's "humble beginnings" and his eventual rise to outcook Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America. He wanted to show viewers his "American dream of cooking," but for the Selection Committee, his performance was too subdued.

Mastering the Potato

While the judges weren't wowed by Viet's 30-second tape, his soup-filled potato croquette left a more pleasing impression, Susie Fogelson calling it "ridiculously good."

Meat Man

Week two's Burger Bash gave Viet another opportunity to tout his Iron Chef America victory, as he battled Bobby with Secret Ingredient ground meat. He invented a banh mi-inspired creation but initially struggled to find a way to entice the audience with it; then Alton reminded him that hearing "'I won Battle Ground Meat on Iron Chef America'" is a stellar sales tactic.

Overcoming Anxiety

Although Viet was initially nervous at the prospect of speaking and cooking in front of a 100-person audience, he managed to relax on stage after the audience applauded his achievement on Iron Chef America. He successfully sold his burger to nine people, and both the mentors and the guests appreciated its taste.

Mystery Meets Authority

The challenge of week three was for the finalists to prove their authority over uncommon ingredients, and while Viet prepared an impressive crab roll, Bobby wished Viet had better incorporated umeboshi — his mystery product — into his dish.

Design by Viet

Viet illustrated this intricate drawing beneath an inspired line: "Passion ... more passion."

Mixed Review

In the Chopped-style challenge, Viet opened his basket to reveal hot dogs, beer, cotton candy and peanuts. He abandoned the ballpark theme of the ingredients to re-create a dish from his childhood: hot dog ramen. Although Bobby complimented him on the look of the plate, he wished Viet were more excited in his performance. "I do need you to be more passionate about what you're doing."

Culinary Romance

Tasked to create a romance-themed movie trailer promoting their themed menu, teammates Viet, Damaris and Chad filmed a scene inspired by The Dating Game. Viet tackled the dessert course by making macerated fresh berries with rum and cream, and while he was confident in the dish, Bobby admitted, "It's not very creative."

Team Unity

Together with Damaris, Viet and Chad of Team Romance experienced a significant drop in customer orders, despite their initial surge in sales. Their performance garnered hearty laughs from the Selection Committee and the audience of moviegoers alike, but Alton noted that a "line may have gotten passed for some viewers," who found the script too risqué.

Last Chance

"I don't see you growing on camera," Alton told Viet at week-four evaluation. Viet revealed that he is "so much more confident and comfortable in front of people" than ever before, and he's ultimately given another opportunity to prove his staying power in the competition. "I have a lot of changes to make," he reflected afterward.

Starts with the Self

"Believe in yourself and the world will be yours," Viet penned, reminding himself that confidence is his key to victory.

Disappearing Act

In what would be Viet's final Mentor Challenge, the Selection Committee tasked the finalists to adapt to unexpected kitchen curve balls while on live television with a guest co-host. For Viet, that meant presenting without a key ingredient: sauteed bell peppers and onions.

Fixated

"You have to come back from it," Giada advised Viet after he wasted valuable time in the demonstration searching for his lost peppers. "I just dwelled on it too much," he admitted.

Appetizer Duty

Although he's a respected chef known for creating refined dishes, Viet's tasked with creating a chips-and-dip dish for the Star Challenge's 4th of July Live, a live call-in show celebrating the patriotic holiday.

On the Spot

When an at-home viewer phoned Viet with a simple appetizer question, he froze, unable to answer her. "I kind of panic," he explained. Although Viet ultimately responded, Bob Tuschman remarked of the performance, "I wish Viet was bringing more excitement, energy, joy."

Succeeded

While Viet and the 11 rivals had but one common goal — become the next Food Network Star — he remained humble throughout the competition, likely because of feel-good words like Ralph Waldo Emerson's meaning of success, which includes, "To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people ... to earn the appreciation of honest critics."

Accepting Elimination

"You are a confident cook. You are not a confident speaker in front of the camera," Alton told Viet, who was ultimately sent home because of his struggles in front of the lens. He made a graceful exit from the competition and left believing, "I'm still that great, accomplished chef, but now I have learned so much more about my abilities and my weakness, and I am that much better."

Chance at Salvation

Viet has an opportunity to return to the competition if he can outcook other previously eliminated finalists on Star Salvation, an intense Star Kitchen showdown hosted by Robert Irvine. Watch the latest episode to see how he fares.

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