24 in 24 Last Chef Standing finale: Which four chefs cook in the final shift?

24 in 24 Last Chef Standing
24 in 24 Last Chef Standing / Food Network

After cooking for 20 hours straight, the 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing finale is set. Only four chefs remain in the Food Network competition. Can they push through the remaining challenges?

When Food Network announced this unique culinary competition, many people wondered if the chefs would last to the final challenges. Combining physical and mental fatigue in a pressure filled scenario is harder than filming challenges over several days or weeks.

While some people appreciate seeing a glimpse behind the production scenes and the moving parts of a food television set, the reality is that the food and the chefs continue to prove they are up to the challenge. Even if they might be at the point where exhaustion can mimic a drunken state, somehow, they are powering through till the last shift.

Leading up to the last four hours of competition, the remaining themes seemed to challenge their mental fortitude. For example, the Risk Taking challenges might not have required extreme techniques or unusual ingredients, but they required superb execution, which can be difficult with a tired mind.

In the Risk Taking Shift, the first challenge of a spicy rice was more difficult that it seemed. Although it might not have been the risotto kiss of death like other food television shows, rice is notoriously hard to correctly execute in a short time frame. Plus, the second challenge brought out the ice cream machine and pasta maker. Maybe this episode should have been called overcoming the jinx.

Given that the chefs had to impress Maneet Chauhan, these challenges were more about following the theme than pushing the creativity. As Food Network fans know, Chauhan is the master at solving the Randomizer on Tournament of  Champions. She has high standards. Although there was a mathematical battle that seemed to be slightly confusing, the reality is that a well-cooked dish should always keep a chef safe.

From the spicy rice to using a well churned ice cream, the chef eliminated in the Risk Taking Shift was Martel. Unfortunately, his ice cream was not technically well made. Even though the flavor worked, the execution error had him going home.

Moving into the second to last shift, Simplicity, the five remaining chefs needed to be thoughtful with their dishes. Whether it was using just five ingredients in a dish or elevating the flavors in a humble chicken dish, this challenge did not allow the chefs to hide behind complexity.

Although the food will always be the highlight of each episode, it was humorous that a few chefs stumbled in the cooking knowledge test. In a normal day, converting ounces to gallons is easy enough. But, when a person is physically and mentally exhausted, the common place knowledge cannot make it through the brain fog.

Looking at the chicken dishes that either catapulted the chefs to the 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing finale or had them punching out, it was flavor that earned high praise. In an expected outcome, Carlos was the first chef to make the finale. By using herbs under the chicken skin, the dish had robust flavor. While there was restraint, it was his smart choices that secured him a spot in the final round.

Marcel made smart choices, too. By frying the chicken bones before using them into the pan sauce, he knew that the flavor would be on point. Even though the dish might have been simplistic, it showed good gamesmanship in the execution. The mushrooms may have been a mis-step, but the chicken, which was the challenge, shined.

The third chef making the finale was Chris Oh. While his soup was very comforting, it put the chicken flavor front and center. Although the egg side dish was unnecessary, the noodles were a smart choice. Given his state of exhaustion, it was better to pick a dish that did the work for him that another option which was overly complicated.

The final spot came down to Mika and Chris D. Mika made grilled chicken wings. While the mojo was a good choice, the wings needed more time to absorb the char from the grill.  But, her elote was a smart side dish.

After impressing with a chicken dish in the previous round, it was hard for Chris to live up to that last bite. In some ways, his vegetables outshined the chicken. Unfortunately, Chris was eliminated.

The four chefs heading to the 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing finale are Carlos, Chris Oh, Marcel and Mika. At least one female chef made the finale. Unlike Tournament of Champions where women rule the kitchen, this Food Network show is different.

Which chef could win the title? Truthfully, it is anyone’s game. With the theme being Elevation, the mental fog needs to clear and the dishes need to showcase that creativity. After spending all those hours cooking, no one wants to come up just short of the title.

Be sure to watch the 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing finale on Sunday, May 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Episodes can be streamed the next day on MAX.