BY VELMA SOUTHERLAND
When the Restaurant Express bus stopped in Las Vegas last night, it was Seonkyoung Longest who won the plum job of executive chef at a new restaurant that was still being built as the show finished filming this summer.
Greeneville's Jan Charles has been one of the main "Fan Favorites" during the seven-week run of the Food Network show. She finished in a respectable third place following a head-to-head challenge with the winner.
After Charles and Longest battled it out, Longest still had to compete against Adam Goldgell, who had made the most money during the Dec. 8 show and qualified for an automatic slot in the finals.
In a surprise move last week, the show's star, Chef Robert Irvine, had decided that instead of eliminating either Charles or Longest, both would continue to the show's finale.
Stuffed pork chops proved to be Charles' downfall as Irvine told her he could get pork chops in restaurants nearby and the winner would have a "signature dish" that was unique.
When Longest and Goldgell faced off, her modern Asian cuisine appealed most to Irvine and the management of the hotel/restaurant where the Restaurant Express winner would be working.
Longest had some pricing problems with her dishes being more expensive than the new restaurant wanted. However, most of Goldgell's dishes had problems with technique, which was unusual for the longtime chef from New York.
As Irvine said goodbye to Charles, he discussed how much the home cook who prefers "comfort food" had grown and improved during the show. He told her he was proud of her and gave her a hug.
Charles agreed with his assessment of what her participation on the show has meant to her and that she felt good about how far she traveled on the Restaurant Express bus in its inaugural season.