24 in 24 Last Chef Standing premiere: Food Network’s ultimate culinary test

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

From Tournament of Champions to Iron Chef, Food Network has been at the forefront of food television culinary competitions. With 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing premiere, the premise might be intense, but the creativity that the chefs bring to the kitchen has viewers engaged in the spectacle.

Hosted by Michael Symon and Esther Choi, the 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing premiere started with an explanation. Unlike other food television shows, this Food Network program has moments where viewers see the behind the scenes action. From camera crews to producers’ questions, those little moments make the story even more engaging beyond the food on the plate. It showcased the pressure, uniqueness, and lack of breaks from the real 24-hours period challenge.

As the competition began, one chef referred to it as the “culinary Squid Games.” With the multiple early eliminations and the pressure, the analogy seems to make sense. Unlike other food television programs where people can ride the middle or earn safety from a team, there is no room for error in 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing.

Overall, the competition is broken into eight shifts. By the end of the shifts, one chef will earn the title and the $50,000 prize. In addition to eliminations, there will be monetary prizes awarded along the way.

For the first shift, the theme was speed. In order to determine their protein for the second challenge, the chefs had to complete a mise en place type challenge. As soon as they diced eight onions, turned eight artichokes, and pitted eight avocados, the chefs could choose their protein station.

It was curious that the “check” of the mise en place was not shown. Unlike other food television competitions, no one had to re-dice some onions or re-turn an artichoke. Maybe all these executive chefs’ knife skill are really on point.

Moving into the elimination challenge and after the chefs’ picked their stations, they learned that it was an elimination challenge. The head-to-head battle cut the 24 chefs down to 12. Needless to say, the pressure was intense.

The chefs had to impress their judge, Jet Tila, with just one bite. This challenge was not an amuse-bouche. It was a full dish and the judge had to eat just one bite.

Overall, the first challenge was interesting because of the chefs’ approach to the challenge. With just 24 minutes to complete the challenge and having to create a dish eaten in a single bite, the balance and complexity of flavors were key. The correct execution was a given. But, impressing Jet Tila with originality and creativity was vital.

Given the amount of chefs, it was hard to appreciate all the dishes. Some items were given a quick glance and others had more air time.

The biggest shock was that one chef Aarthi Sampath did not plate her dish. She was able to get hanger steak, with no accompanying food, on the plate. It was a given that Carlos Anthony won the round. It is unfortunate that Chef Aarthi, who had success on other Food Network competitions would not move forward.

Another iconic chef did not make it out of the first round. Chef Elizabeth Falkner lost her battle. While she is one of the most talented, successful chefs in the competition, she has had bad luck in recent Food Network competitions. Her meatball dish was good, but Martel’s dish had more complex flavors. Still, credit should be given to Chef Elizabeth for using some of the prepped avocados instead of letting them all go to waste.

Additionally, the highlight anticipated head to head battle of Marcell Vigneron versus Viet Pham ensured that a top chef would be eliminated. While the two chefs’ decisions to pick mussels was smart, the competition twist took out a potential favorite.

Overall, both of those mussels dishes would have won in another scenario. Unfortunately, Viet’s dish had a little too much acid. Even though Marcel’s dish was spice forward, he won and avoided elimination.

After the competition was narrowed to 12 chefs, the remaining competitors had to battle in an egg cook-off. In just 12 minutes, the chefs had to create a memorable egg dish. There were no parameters for the challenge.

For winning this challenge, the top chef would earn $2,400. As many people appreciate, cooking eggs is a classic challenge. Luckily, it was not battle omelet.

A few offerings were quite curious. Kess did not make a complete dish. Her deviled egg turned into a spoonful of soft poached egg.

The two top egg dishes were from Marcel and Martel. Martel had an over the top egg creation. Although the lump crab might have been a little too much, it was a luscious, craveable egg dish. It showcased the egg but made it elevated.

Marcel focused on the presentation for his egg dish. In a way, it was a chicken versus egg play with a beautifully fried egg sitting on top of a wonton nest. It was a beautiful plate. More importantly, it was well executed.

With the best egg of the day, Marcel won the egg challenge and the monetary prize. That money is his to keep no matter his placement in the competition.

While the other chefs thought that an elimination was off the table, another Food Network twist came into play. Since the dishes were ranked 1-12, the bottom two chefs will face a sudden death cook-off. But, the episode ended on a cliffhanger.

Which two chefs from the 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing premiere will face elimination? Be sure to watch the next episode on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network. Episodes can be streamed the next day on MAX.