Melissa King has “no regrets” after “Top Chef” elimination

Courtesy BravoMelissa King wrangles a fish during her first challenge on Wednesday's episode of "Top Chef."

After powering through 12 episodes of “Top Chef,” it was a beautiful plate of eggplant ravioli that finally sent San Francisco chef Melissa King home.

“I have no regrets,” King told The San Francisco Examiner after being eliminated on Wednesday's episode of Bravo's culinary competition. “I'm extremely proud of myself for how long I was able to stay in the game.”

King outlasted 12 competitors in Boston before clinching a trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the three-part finale. In Wednesday's elimination challenge, contestants created dishes inspired by local artists.

While competitors Doug Adams and Mei Lin ran into language barriers at the local Mega supermarket, King cruised through her shopping (the Los Angeles-born chef credits the large Latino presence at L.A. and San Francisco restaurants for teaching her “kitchen Spanish”).

But while the judges praised her smoked-eggplant ravioli with shrimp, chorizo and cotija cheese, the dish lost out to Adams' Texas brisket and chili.

“I went pretty hyper-local,” she says, “and I guess they were looking for something a little more different, and that's what Doug did.”

King weathered some rough patches earlier in the season.

“I had been on the bottom a few times, and that really got to me,” she says. “I started digging deep every day. I took [the judges'] criticism to heart and applied it to the next challenges.”

It was her mother's appearance in the Thanksgiving episode, though, that King calls her “game-changer.”

“My mother has been my biggest fan through the show, and my whole life,” she says. “I was able to cook without any fears, not be concerned about the game, and cook more from the heart.”

Now that “Top Chef” is over, King is juggling multiple projects. Earlier this month, she and Lin, who's still in the running for the “Top Chef” title, hosted a “Flavors of Winter” dinner at Nico restaurant in Pacific Heights.

King wants to host more collaborations as part of her Co+Lab project and hopes to open her own place one day.

“There's a lot of opportunities now,” she says. “I have a lot of things planned.”

QUICK TAKES

Oakland-born poet and songwriter Rod McKuen died Thursday at 81; McKuen was nominated for Oscars for his songs “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”… Rap producer Suge Knight has been accused of a fatal hit-and-run on a film set in Compton.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Actress Danielle Campbell (“The Originals”) is 20. … Actor Christian Bale (“The Dark Knight”) is 41. … Singer Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane is 73.

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