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INTERVIEW: 5 Qs with MasterChef's fallen frontrunner, Lynn Chyi

A native of the storied coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina, Julie Sprankles has been a lover of words her entire life. As a Southerner, she certainly has what her mama calls “the gift of gab.” When she’s not writing, Julie can be...

Say it isn't so!

In an elimination no one saw coming, MasterChef Season 4 frontrunner Lynn Chyi got chopped last night after baked goods got the best of him. During a Q & A sesh that makes us even sadder to see him go, the San Diego native lets us grill him.

MasterChef contestant Lynn ChyiSheKnows: I made my way to your blog earlier, and — in addition to food — are you seriously also a super-talented designer and photographer?

Lynn Chyi: I don't know if I consider myself super-talented, but I definitely consider myself pretty good at what I do. And I love it, so I'm always combing through my craft. Food just happens to be kind of in the target of my lenses right now, and it's great — everything I do happens to be associated with food outside of my normal nine-to-five job.

SK: Let me assure you, you are super-talented! What makes food so special to you?

LC: I think food is just kind of one of those things where it is universal. I don't have to create a conversation with a person to tell them I love them — you know, I can cook them a good meal. I can serve them with what I have in my house, invite them over for dinner. If they don't want to talk very much during dinner and they are more concentrated on the food, knowing that I put all of that love into it for them, that's a really good way to connect with people. And it really doesn't matter who they are, what background they're from, how old they are... it's a great way to serve people and to really love them. So you might not have a whole lot in common with them, but everybody eats, right?

SK: Well, what are the first three words that pop into your head when I say MasterChef?

LC: I actually didn't watch, to tell you the truth. You know, the thing with MasterChef and watching it back is it's like going in a time machine and re-living the exact moment, and it kind of dropped off my radar how bad my last dish was. So I was OK with it, and then when I had a chance to re-live it by watching it, I chose not to because I think it would have been too much for me to bear. I was not upset about leaving, but I was a little upset about the way I performed that day. I mean, we're all competitors on the show, so I think everybody kind of feels that way when they leave. So, for me, I chose not to re-live it because it would have been painful! But I'm still so grateful and so blessed it happened in the first place.

SK: OK, I will warn you that in my weekly blog with Chef Graham, I kind of say that dish looked like the skin off of an elephant's knee... but I also say I was shocked it came from you because your food is typically like art, it's so beautiful. Did you just have an off-day?

LC: Yeah, if I look back on it, I tried to take a risk by doing a dish I'd never done before. What I did was I got kind of prideful and I thought, "Hey, everybody can make a strawberry shortcake, and I don't want to be like everybody else." You know, I kind of got into, like, the Howard mode. I mean, I like Howard as a person so I'm not ragging on him, but he was like, "Why are we all doing the same thing on the show?" I kind of got caught up in that — I didn't want to be safe and be in the middle of the pack, although that would have saved me! So rethinking now, I just over-thought it and, in that moment, I forgot a bunch of ingredients that should have gone into that big meringue, pavlova thing... whatever you want to call that mistake. I don't even want to think about it anymore! (laughs) It was a little embarrassing.

SK: Please make us happy by telling us you'll be opening your own restaurant or putting out a cookbook in the future. Where can we find your food?

LC: What I want to do is partner with someone else or shoot their cookbook and really concentrate on what I know I'm super-good at, which is photography. And then, if I have time to think about it and really put my heart and soul into a cookbook, I will with my own recipes. I think a big part of it is that it's difficult to focus on both things at once, and I wouldn't expect us all to have an arsenal of recipes and all to have great photography, which is what I want my cookbook to have. I won't compromise on either. I do have something in the works to do a cookbook with someone in San Diego, so I'm really excited about that. When that comes out, my work will be featured as a photographer and we'll see where it goes from there.

More on MasterChef

INTERVIEW: MasterChef's Graham Elliot on Eva Longoria and Week 7's shocking elimination
INTERVIEW: MasterChef's Graham Elliot says "I do" to Week 6's pig heads and patisserie treats
INTERVEW: 5 Qs with MasterChef's casualty, Jonny Blanchard

Image courtesy of Fox
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