Eli

In the last challenge before the Top Chef finale, Eli Kirshtein's lack of precision and inedible lamb resulted in his elimination following the mini-Bocuse d'Or competition. TVGuide.com caught up with the 25-year-old cheftestant to find out why he became so emotional after being cut, what we didn't see in the kitchen and what he thinks of Robin now that time has passed.

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TVGuide.com: Why do you think you became so emotional after being eliminated?
Eli Kirshtein: There are a handful of components. First of all, you're tired and fatigued after being in Las Vegas on a six-week production. That day and the day before were really exhausting on top of it. That judging table was also really long. In the usual format, three people go out in the top, and you review your stuff. Then three people go out in the bottom and you review your stuff. But we were five people and the process took close to five hours of standing in that room. When I was doing those exit interviews, it was probably 3 or 4 in the morning. So I don't think I was emotional about not winning Top Chef. I don't feel I went out too early, I was just tired, beat-up and exhausted.

TVGuide.com: What did you think of judges critique of your lack of precision and undercooked lamb?
Eli: I think that it was fair. There were a lot of things said we didn't hear at the table where the judges were eating and a lot of things said that the audience didn't see. But overall, I think it was the appropriate decision. Of the five of us, I think I was the person that deserved to go home that day.

TVGuide.com: Why did everyone seem so rattled in the kitchen when Tom came by?
Eli: One thing that should be noted that didn't make the edit was that all those chefs that ate at the table actually made a pass through the kitchen at about the same time [Tom] came. With Tom, you sort of develop a form of familiarity and comfort, so it was OK to see him each day. But with those guys there, you know it's going to shake you up a little.

TVGuide.com: What did you think of Michael's comment that the food Kevin makes for the competition is the food he makes on his day off.
Eli: He just said that's what he does on his day off. I have no idea what he does on his day off, so I can't gauge that. It's opinion and who knows what gets said and gets taken out of context. Who knows what's said out of frustration and what's said is genuine and heartfelt. So, I stay pretty neutral on that one because I respect both of them equally.

TVGuide.com: Looking back, what do you think caused the tension between you and Robin?
Eli: I've had a lot of time to chew on it. And I realized that at the end of the day, I just don't care for her. Outside of cooking, outside of the competition, outside of professionalism, I just don't care for the person she is. And that just kind of grew on me negatively over the time there.

TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
Eli: I don't know. I'm still a chef at the restaurant Atlanta, and I'm always looking for other opportunities and things. I'm going to try to expand my public image and make people more interested in me.