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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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
"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.
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."
"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."
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.