Jamie Tran’s competition on Top Chef: Portland came to an end last week when she packed her knives after a drive-in movie challenge had her making rubbery chicken. Her loss sent her to Last Chance Kitchen, the online show where eliminated contestants try to get back on Top Chef through cooking challenges.
Last week, she defeated Kiki Louya in a chicken challenge using liver, skin, feet, oysters, and thighs for a perfectly composed dish made in 25 minutes. This week brought a new contestant to the challenge, Gabriel Pascuzzi, who was eliminated from the show.
Host Tom Colicchio challenged the contestants to make an elevated version of a dish that showcases their journeys as chef, and Tran had to use rice, while Pascuzzi used eggs. “My mom taught me the love of cooking and my dad taught me the discipline of cooking, but over the years my cooking has changed, and now I’m cooking through my vision,” Tran says on the show.
Tran says she felt like this challenge served as redemption for her loss on Top Chef, when Pascuzzi overrode her decision to make a White Castle-inspired burger and had her make sticky chicken wings with a fish sauce glaze, a dish that got her booted from the show. “This is a redemption quickfire so I need to just have fun with it but make sure that I beat him,” she tells Eater Vegas.
Tran wins the competition with her peasant-style lap cheong crispy fried rice with lemon juice and apples and heads back onto Top Chef: Portland for next week’s episode. “I thought I was gonna chill for a minute,” Tran tells Eater Vegas. And with the news that she’s heading back in the kitchen, she says her anxiety returns.
The chef and co-owner of The Black Sheep, the Eater 38 restaurant in the southwest where Tran melds her Vietnamese upbringing with French techniques, won an Eater Award for Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year.
Top Chef: Portland airs on Thursdays on Bravo at 8 p.m. PDT.