While the rest of us were watching “Top Chef: Charleston” and the online-only “Last Chance Kitchen” last night, where 5Church’s Jamie Lynch was fighting to come back on the show, Lynch himself was in New York with co-owners Alejandro Torio and Patrick Whalen.
It was fitting: The show itself was practically a tribute to the James Beard House. The winner of the night was getting a chance to cook dinner at the James Beard House in New York.
Meanwhile, Lynch cooked dinner there himself Wednesday night. On Thursday night, he was bopping around New York, celebrating with a mountain of shaved country ham at Momofuko Ssam after helping to cook for a special dinner at Silvia Barban’s Brooklyn restaurant LaRina Pastifico e Vino.
(He missed a chance to go to Sam Talbot’s Pretty Southern. “When I flew in Tuesday, Katsuji (Tanabe) and Silvia were at Pretty Southern having lunch and they sent me a message: ‘Can you get over here?’ ” But he had work to do first, to get ready to cook for the Beard House event.)
Meanwhile, on TV, he was facing two competitors, Brooke Williamson and Casey Thompson, in a double episode of “Last Chance Kitchen.” First, Lynch and Casey had to pick two cooking methods – they went with sauteing and braising – and the three had to pick a protein and do it both ways. Brooke and Casey both went with pork, while Lynch, in a brave move, picked scallops. (How do you braise scallops? Gently, brother, gently.)
It looked good. It was so close. And by a hair: Lynch lost.
So it’s the end of the road. Brooke and Casey went on to a second round. (They don’t tell you which one made it to the finale, which moves from Charleston to Mexico.) And Lynch walked off, knives already packed to go.
After knocking down four competitors on “Last Chance,” he guessed the end was coming, he says.
“I kind of knew when I saw Brooke. I was like, ‘aw @##$. Here we go. Things are unraveling.’ ”
Lynch was philosophical about it Friday morning, where he was getting ready for a last lunch before returning to Charlotte.
“I felt like I had a good run on ‘Last Chance Kitchen.’ ” He had something to prove and he feels like he proved it: That he can do some major cooking.
It’s not the end for “Top Chef” attention in Charlotte, though. Lynch has already announced that the famously mouthy Katsuji Tanabe will come to Charlotte to cook dinner at 5Church in March. The date hasn’t been set, but they’re planning on some kind of competition event with the two of them facing off. So keep an eye out for that.
And Lynch did make “Top Chef” history by giving up immunity to be judged with his team and getting eliminated from the show in the process. It was a stand-up move that will now always be a part of his story.
(One thing you can still do: Voting is going on for fan-favorite, with $10,000 at stake. If you want to vote for Lynch, go here.)
Would he do the show again? Quite a few competitors have, after all.
“I probably would. When I first got off, there’s no way I would have answered that. But looking back, the friendships. We all keep in touch and all that kind of thing.
“It’s a game at the end of the day. You all want the title and the cash and recognition. But it’s still a game. You’re not going to cook perfectly every day. I would do it again.”
So, great run, chef. Now: Lynch has been hinting all winter that he has a spot on his left calf for a new tattoo. He says it’s still being designed, but he’ll have in place by the end of the season.
What’s it going to be? I’m betting on “#noimmunity.” What’s your bet?