24 in 24 Last Chef Standing winner: A triumphant ending to an epic challenge

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

When Food Network launched this culinary competition, the premise was unlike any other food television program. After 24 grueling hours of cooking, the 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing winner proved that mental fortitude combined with creative can survive the epic endeavor.

Chefs appreciate that their days are long, tiresome, and demanding. But, the ability to take a break, step away from the stove, and just breathe can be those few moments of respite that allows them to recharge.

The whole premise of 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing was to go extreme, push the limits, and determine what is possible in a culinary competition. While there are competitions where chefs might have to cook with unusual proteins, hear vicious criticism, or even travel to unlikely locales, they are not continuously cooking. Those moments in the stew room are welcome, especially on the hardest days.

With four chefs remaining the 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing finale, each one had a real chance to earn the title. Although competition was not always smooth sailing, these chefs had plenty of opportunities to shine.

The four remaining chefs were Carlos, Chris, Marcel, and Mika. Before they began cooking, the final shift began by revisiting the very first challenge, the mise en place race. Asking the chefs to dice onions, turn artichokes, and pit avocados with no sleep was almost cruel. Luckily, no one had an errant knife cut issue.

As the chefs finished their mise en place, they were able to pick their proteins for the last three cooks. They could decide how to use each of the three ingredients however they wanted. With one chef eliminated after each round, the pressure was high to make a smart choice.

Finishing the prep race first was Marcel. He just nudged out Carlos. Chris finished third and Mika was last.

For the first challenge, the chefs had to create an amuse-bouche. Not only would a great bite secure their spot in the next round, but it set the tone for the food progression. This challenge was not the time to travel the globe without any flavor connection.

Marcel grabbed the seafood tray. Carlos picked pork. Chris chose beef. Mika was left with chicken.

As the first to grab proteins, Marcel set himself up for success.  His scallops with passion fruit had a great balance of bright flavor. More importantly, it got the judges’ palates excited for the upcoming courses.

Carlos made a pork tenderloin with peaches and mustard. While there was a debate whether there was slightly too much onion on the plate, it was a bold start and appreciated by the judges.

Mika made a chicken caldo with a plantain dumpling. While that bite hit the challenge of creating an amuse-bouche, it was more about the dumpling versus the chicken. It might be a great dish for another time, but it did not necessarily follow this challenge. It did not have enough chicken.

Chris made a jicama steak taco. While some of the judges felt that it needed more salt, it was a tender, finger food bite. Overall, it was a successful start that captured his preferred flavor profile.

The first chef eliminated in the 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing finale was Mika. She had the hardest protein, but the dish did not fulfill the challenge. It needed more chicken to be successful.

24 in 24 Last Chef Standing Finale
Judges on 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing Finale / Food Network

For the second cook, the chefs had to create an appetizer. This scenario is where gamesmanship came into focus. Chefs had to decide whether to use the star protein on the plate or save it for the hopes of being in the last round.

Chris hedged on keeping his best protein for the last round. Unfortunately, he had a technical cooking error with his beef and potato croquette. As it fried, it came apart. He would not make that error if he was not exhausted. Additionally, the judges felt that it needed a dipping sauce.

Carlos went big with his appetizer course and used the Iberco pork. The dish might have been pork and beans but it was totally elevated. It felt homey yet it was something worthy of a highly rated restaurant. Even though it had a nice chimichurri, it needed a touch more acidity in the dish.

Lastly, Marcel made a play on shrimp and grits with spot prawns. Even though the grits seized up a little bit, it was great, solid cooking. Plus, it was a smart follow-up to the first bite.

Due to his cooking error, Chris was eliminated in this round. His exhaustion proved too much to avoid the execution flaw. It led to his downfall.

Although some Food Network fans might have predicted this finale, the battle between Marcel and Carlos is fairly even. Since it was all coming down to just one plate of food, they could not hold back.

Marcel made flounder. His take on a curry was elevated and smart. It packed a lot of technique into the dish without becoming fussy. All the flavor layers made the dish quite enjoyable. As the judges said, the dish showed a lot of maturity in his cooking.

Carlos made a pork Milanese with goat cheese polenta. Although he had to pivot to fix an execution error, it was a good dish. Overall, there was a lot of precision in his cooking. But, the judges wanted a touch more acid and some sweetness in the dish.

In the end, the 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing winner was Marcel. After competing in many culinary competitions, he finally earns a title.  

24 in 24 Last Chef Standing winner Marcel
Marcel wins 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing / Food Network

After a successful first season, Food Network fans will be happy to know that 24 in 24 Last Chef Standing will be returning for Season 2. Only time will tell which chefs are up to this intense Food Network challenge.

Want to rewatch the season? All episodes can be streamed on MAX.