24 in 24 Last Chef Standing episode 2 recap: Adaptability with a side of creativity

24 in 24 Last Chef Standing chefs in between rounds
24 in 24 Last Chef Standing chefs in between rounds / Food Network

As the chefs enter their second shift, 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing episode 2 recap had more twists and turns than Food Network fans expected. Testing the chefs’ adaptability, the challenge was more about finding the flavor than thinking outside of the bun.

To open this particular 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing episode, two chefs had to compete in a sudden death cook-off. Camille and Vijay had to create a coffee inspired appetizer. Although that flavor profile was a little complex, the twist was even more difficult.

After the chefs grabbed their ingredients, they had to switch stations. Cooking with each other’s ingredients is a difficult task. While it might have challenged their creativity, it was definitely twist that neither chef wanted. Given that their culinary point of view is totally different, it was not appreciated.

Even though the test was adaptability, the sudden death cook-off was more about following the brief for the challenge, highlighting the coffee flavor. One chef handled that part better.

Camille created a panko covered soft egg. While the dish might have needed more texture, it had a nice coffee flavor. It was subtle, but it was a well-focused approach to the challenge.

Vijay seemed overwhelmed with his ingredients. While the pan seared scallops were nice, the mango and avocado were a little disjointed. More importantly, the coffee flavor was intense. There was a lot of coffee reduction on the plate.

Based on the coffee element, Vijay was sent home. His coffee was too overpowering and created an imbalanced bite.

Continuing the adaptability challenge in this episode's theme, the remaining chefs had to create their signature burger. Of course, this Food Network challenge would never be simple. The staff removed all ground meat and buns. The chefs had to create their own take on a burger, without the typical ingredients.

 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing Michael Symon Esther Choi Stephanie Izard
Host Michael Symon, Host Esther Choi and Judge Stephanie Izard on 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing / Food Network

The winner in this burger challenge would receive $2,400 and the bottom chef would be eliminated from the 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing competition.

Overall, the twist of no ground meat was not a huge hurdle. The chefs still had meat and meat grinders in the kitchen. Basically, it was more of an issue to handle the time crunch of grounding meat and baking some type of bun.

In addition, a mid-challenge twist asked the chefs to create a fried side, but they could not use oil. They could use a non-stick cooking spray or any other fat that they had on their station. It was curious that more people did not use the fat from their burgers or rendered bacon fat to fry that food.

The curious element was that most of the burgers were burgers. Many people ground some type of beef to create their dish. The dishes who chose to step away from the traditional approach seemed to do better.

For example. Chris Oh was a top dish with his take on a filet o’ fish. While the fried seafood burger with the crispy puff pastry top was good, it was a well-composed, flavorful take on the challenge. It was a burger, yet not just another side of beef.

Winning the challenge was Carlos Anthony. His lamb burger with cucumber fries had great flavor and captured that California vibe that he wanted. When a chef can balance answering the brief with smart execution, it will keep them safe.

Unfortunately, the bottom burgers had some big missteps. Chris D had a food concept, but the dish was not executed well. The radicchio bun was not the best idea. After it was grilled, the texture became mushy, which offered an unpleasant flavor and texture. Whether it was just a missed opportunity or the tiredness that led to the mistake remains to be seen.

Josie was the other bottom burger. In reality, she did not make a burger. She sauteed some mushrooms and put it in a lettuce cup. It was more of a taco. Maybe if she had chopped the mushrooms and made them into a burger or did something to transform the mushroom to make some type of patty, it would have been more adaptable to the challenge.

The bottom chef in 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing episode 2 was Josie. But, there was another twist. Michael Symon offered any chef $1,200 to leave the competition and Josie would be safe. No one took the offer.

Will Michael Symon offer another buy out temptation? Will the chefs struggle to handle the pressure and the lack of sleep?

Be sure to tune into new episodes of 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing every Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET. Episodes can be streamed the next day on MAX.