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Star has seen many themed challenges over the seasons, including takes on Chopped, Burger Bash and even Thanksgiving Live. But for the first time in Star history, finalists faced off in a round of Cutthroat Kitchen-inspired competition. Alton brought all of his antics and even Cutthroat judge Jet Tila made a special appearance.
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.
Kenny did not have a great showing in Episode 2 (he escaped elimination after admitting his faults), but a failed dish sent him to compete on Star Salvation this week. In what would be his final challenge — the Cutthroat Kitchen-style battle — Kenny managed to go sabotage-free the entire time, and yet his breakfast dish was a tragedy.
Read Kenny's exclusive interview below to hear more from him. Learn how he felt about his elimination, as well as what he hopes fans will remember about him.
How did you feel about the judges' remarks coming off of that elimination?
Kenny Lao: I thought they were totally fair. I think that it was very, very evident that I am not the best chef here and that was the downfall for me, and I think that they did recognize that I was making great improvements on being able to actually connect the food to me and then to the viewer, but I think that I just really needed to step it up culinarily, and I got called out for it today.
Do you stand by your breakfast dish? And did you taste it as you were assembling it?
KL: I stand by the concept of my breakfast dish. I don’t stand by the execution of it. I tasted it going through it and my biggest problem, I think, was exactly what they said: too many elements. The issue was, though, that trifle has all of those elements. I don’t think my flavors necessarily melded well, but also, too, I was operating with no sugar — which was really rough! Not that I’m making any excuses, but I think that’s what they tasted when they said it was tart and savory and that there was no sweetness to it.
Alton said in an interview that your heat dealt with more-difficult sabotages than the other. Do you feel like that’s fair?
KL: I think that all is fair in this game, and I actually think that it’s totally fair if you think about it because, I mean, a heat’s a heat, and it’s basically like being graded on the curve because you’re not compared against the other people. Each heat had a separate winner. I understand why no one was like, "Let’s pile on Kenny." Because Kenny's just going to pile on himself, right?
How would you explain this competition to someone else?
KL: Get ready to wait. Bring a book. Bring more than one book if you're a fast reader like me.
In a short period of time, you dealt with challenges involving big names: Alex Guarnaschelli and Jet Tila. Was there an intimidation factor?
KL: I was not intimidated by either of them. I’ve been really lucky to have worked with a lot of great chefs. Having not seen Alex on TV, I didn't know her TV reputation, but I knew her culinary reputation. So when I first saw her, I was like, "Whoa, it’s Alex Guarnaschelli." But I didn’t know it was scary Chopped Alex Guarnaschelli like everyone else knew. I don’t own a TV. For example, for Sarah, she’s like, "I'm your biggest fan," like, totally starstruck. You shouldn’t be like that because I think that part of this competition is showing you can handle everything, meaning the production side of it, the meeting the famous people side of it, but that gets you only so far. I think you're allowed to be starstruck the first day, and then afterwards you need to just buckle down and listen to the advice they're giving you.
What was your favorite challenge?
KL: Oh, my God! My favorite challenge was Cutthroat Kitchen. Are you kidding me? So fun. I love games. I love games, and I love competing in games, and I like the strategy of games, and I love watching how other people work through them because it's very insightful.
Does that mean that you would go on the actual show Cutthroat Kitchen if given the opportunity?
KL: No! I would never go on Cutthroat Kitchen because I can’t cook like that. But I really wish that all the competitions were group competitions like this because there’s so much more energy versus going and doing our thing.
Which mentor did you find most intimidating?
KL: I found Alton initially most intimidating before I started, and even on the first day. But I started really valuing his comments. I started really seeing his thoughtfulness and his preparedness, and I thought that that was so respectful towards us.
What do you want fans to remember about you, even in these three episodes?
KL: I want fans to remember that I’ve always been game ready.
Watch Kenny battle for a chance at redemption on Star Salvation. Click the play button on the video below to see the first part of Episode 1, then head over to Star headquarters to catch the second part.