One-on-One with the Latest Star Finalist to Go Home

By: Sarah De Heer

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Eddy Chen, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Just as the finalists were getting used to Food Star Kitchen, the competition moved from Los Angeles to the bright lights of Las Vegas this week. But that wasn't the only road bump the remaining finalists hit. Within the first few moments of the show, they learned that while they were competing, eliminated finalists from the first six episodes were vying for a second chance on Star Salvation. With this news, they watched a fan-favorite return: Luca. "I'm not going to be an easy contestant to go against," he promised. For Episode 7 he kept that promise and took the top spot along with belly-flopping Lenny. Three finalists weren't so lucky: Chris, Emma and Sarah.

If you haven't yet watched the episode, don't read any further. Star Talk is about to break down the ins and outs of the episode — and reveal who was sent home.

There's no doubt that Chris Kyler is an entertainer (as fans saw in the YouTube episode) — and he certainly has charisma. In Episode 6 we saw him shine with his butter coins. But after a lackluster performance this week, he was sent home. His filet didn't deliver, and according to the judges, he failed to deliver the culinary POV he promised week after week.

Read Chris' exclusive interview below to hear more from him. Learn how he felt about his elimination, the feedback he got from the judges and who he thinks is the finalist to beat.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Eddy Chen, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Star Talk: What three words would best describe how you're feeling right now?
Chris Kyler: Disappointed, honored, but not happy. I'm at peace. Is that corny?
Considering the three of you standing up there (you, Emma and Sarah), do you feel like the judges made the right decision?

CK: No. I feel like I'm constantly growing, adapting and learning. I feel like I had the entertainment and the charisma to really grow in this industry, so no, I don't really feel like I should be going home now. But maybe they don't see me beating some of the others later on.

Is there anything you would take back from this last challenge, or do you stand by what you've done?
CK: In the end, looking at what I did, I was really confident about what I made in the kitchen. Go back and watch the episode: I cut with purpose and I season properly. There are a few things that I could've done — I mean, I wanted to cook the tenderloin a little bit less so that it was perfectly medium-rare and cooked properly. But I felt like the flavor profiles were there. I tasted all of my elements. I just don't understand how they didn't enjoy it. But I do respect what they said, and going forward I'm just going to master what I do. I'm the type of person who will come back and be like, "Taste this!" and make sure that it's undeniably the best food they've ever had. I'm just going to become better, you know?

In your own words, tell me what this competition is really like.

CK: This competition really tests all levels of your psyche, your cooking abilities — it was lots of different emotional pools. It tested everything that the average person doesn't have to deal with: how you perceive people, how you adapt to your environment, how you handle stress, pressure, the cameras and getting critiqued. It's just a lot of different things that they demand from you in order to be a Food Network Star, so I guess the answer to your question is yeah, it's tough. I mean, this life is tough. Being a celebrity chef, it's a lot of things to juggle. Trying to present and be entertaining, be engaging — there's a lot that goes into it. I definitely respect it now more than before. When I used to watch Food Network I was like, "They're not really cooking!" Now I think, "Whoa! This is a whole 'nother beast."

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Eddy Chen, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Is there a piece of advice you're going to walk away with from any of the mentors that's really stuck with you?

CK: Be confident in my skills, talents, abilities and be an authority on what I do. When or if I do other cooking shows, I'll need to convince whoever's watching that I know what I'm doing. I have to be in control of it; I can't be wishy-washy like, "Maybe add this, maybe not." I have to say: "This is it. This is how it should be." You have to be an authority.

Who do you think is the finalist to beat in this competition?

CK: Honestly, I didn't think of Lenny as competition, but this guy is a natural — he's an entertainer. The guy is amazing and I have to tip off my hat to him. I'm a good judge of character, and I feel like Lenny just has an incredible personality. You can't practice that type of stuff; the stuff that he says is off the cuff. At first I was skeptical about his cooking skills, but I really feel like he knows what he's talking about. And yeah, the guy is funny, man, he's just funny.

What's next for you?

CK: After being on Cutthroat, I've had a few people come to me with opportunities to do little things, and I only hope that continues and grows.

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