"The elite eight," Bobby dubs the finalists as they arrive at Knott's Berry Farm, an all-American amusement park, for their first-ever live demo this week. The finalists are tasked with preparing a typical 4th of July feast (but matching it to their POVs), as well as presenting it to a live audience — 400 people to be exact.
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.
In what would be his final week in the competition, Christopher headed into this challenge with a dish he was excited to present. "I probably got, like, the best dish — at least for me," Christopher said of his assignment of shrimp, plus corn and tomato salad, which fit ideally into his point of view. After spending Episode 4 in the bottom two, he found himself there again (with Reuben) after a weak live presentation.
Read Christopher's exclusive interview below to hear more from him. Learn how he felt about his elimination (after hearing he had the best dish), and find out who he felt should have been in the bottom this week.
If you could give me a word to describe how you're feeling right now, what would that be?
Christopher Lynch: Disappointed. I wish I didn't hear them say I had the best dish. I feel like, for the first time, that the challenge was kind of watered down. Truth be told, I feel like it's more of a personality competition than it is a cooking competition — which is fine. I'm here because I can cook. Obviously I didn't have the camera chops to carry it the way some other contestants can.
You had the best dish, but you ended up in the bottom with Reuben. Do you think you belonged there?
CL: I knew I was going to be up there. I didn't handle the timing of my demos as well as I should have; looking back, I could have done better. I agree with that 100 percent. I didn't think Reuben belonged up there. I felt, with all respect, that there were two other contestants that probably should have been up there. I think Sarah and Chris should have been on the bottom because they really decimated their food. But their performances on stage, which I did see, were fine. They were good — maybe not as good as others, but good enough.
Did you think you were going to pick up the camera chops along the way?
CL: Oh, yeah, totally. And I think that I have progressed, especially with the feedback. I think if you show promise and growth, you stay for another challenge, and if you don't, you're gone. Time is of the essence in this competition. Coming from Alton, Bobby and Giada, I will definitely take what they had to say to heart. They've been here — they do it for a living.
How would you explain to viewers at home what this competition is really like?
CL: It's really capturing the raw emotion that goes with cooking and these challenges. The producers of this show put the "real" in reality. It's funny because I personally don't watch reality television. You get a lot of people from various backgrounds together and hilarity ensues for the most part, but I think that it was a learning experience, for sure — for everybody, including myself. It's very structured and very regimented. Everybody takes their jobs very seriously. I was impressed by everybody in their work ethic, for sure.
Is there a piece of advice or something that a mentor said to you that will stick with you and you'll take back?
CL: All three mentors gave me good pointers. Never food related, unfortunately — or maybe that's fortunate. It was mostly how to be comfortable in front of a camera. Maybe I thought that I was going to be able to wing it and go the distance, but really, if you want to compete on this level, you have to have some experience in front of the camera too. This was a big lesson for me on how to even be more comfortable in my own community, in my own dining room — getting out of the kitchen and talking to customers even when I don't have much to talk about. In this day and age you have to be approachable and accessible because they want to know who the person is behind the curtain.
What was your favorite and least favorite challenge?
CL: My favorite challenge was the Cutthroat Kitchen-themed episode, for sure. I'd never even seen the show, but I was working next to a guy who'd won it, so it was like a crash course and I kind of picked it up quickly. That was fun. My least favorite challenge by far was the YouTube episode because I just don't think you can try and make something viral; it just doesn't work like that. Things that are nonsensical and funny that happen spontaneously are funny, but when it's canned or forced it's not funny. I had a hard time. I didn't mind doing it — I wanted to show my teammates that I'm willing to do whatever it takes, and I felt that I did. But I just didn't see the importance of that into the competition because it definitely excludes people. Unfortunately it sent Aryen, who was really good at that kind of stuff, home. And she really gave it 100 percent, and there was no cooking involved.
Who are you rooting for now, going forward?
CL: Well, I like everybody. I really do. But I would say Lenny is the hands-down favorite. Or I should say it's just his to lose. I think that being a little older really works to your advantage in this competition. I think he can handle the pressures and the stress of it, but some of these other contestants have surprised me, like Sarah.
What's next for you?
CL: I'm going to go home and go right back to work. This is the longest that I've been off ever, and I'm excited to get back in the kitchen. It'll be nice to finally be able to tell my cooks and friends and family what I did and just hope that they’re proud of me for doing it.
Watch Christopher 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.