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Howell chef James Rigato was eliminated Wednesday after four weeks of competition on Bravo's culinary reality show "Top Chef."

Rigato, who is the executive chef of the Root Restaurant & Bar in White Lake, flew under the radar early in the competition. On the second episode, he won the Quickfire Challenge for his boar bacon dish, winning $5,000.

On Wednesday's double elimination challenge, however, the 29-year-old chef didn't impress judges with his chilled seafood salad. "Top Chef" host and judge Padme Lakshmi thought it was pretty, but later she called it "the worst salad."

While on the chopping block during the elimination portion of the show, Rigato defended his dish, but it wasn't enough. In the end, his three-person team was one of two that lost, and Rigato and Rebecca LaMalfa of Chicago were sent home.

Rigato said he should have stuck with his original plan to make lamb, but he wanted to be a team player, and his team was leaning in a different direction.

"It's a fatal error to not go with your absolute gut," Rigato said on the show. "I should have done a louder, more seasonably relevant dish, and that would've been the lamb."

"I'm not sitting still," he added. "I'm going to go back to Michigan and make the best food I can and I'm going to keep pushing forward."

Rigato has a chance to return to the competition if he does well on "Last Chance Kitchen," a web series that features ousted chefs and provides another opportunity to compete on "Top Chef" at the end of the season.

Dearborn native Mei Lin, who is a sous chef in Los Angeles, continues on "Top Chef," which airs 10 p.m. Wednesdays on Bravo. She faces tough competition, though, especially from Portland chef Gregory Gourdet, winner of the last three challenges.

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

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