When Monique was finally eliminated from the season, the story took a shift in many different ways. In T’s case, it meant she could expand her story beyond her one-sided rivalry. In Michelle Tribble’s case, it meant that someone else could pick up the mantle of seasonal underdog and carry it well into the season to an impressive 3rd place finish, blowing away all expectations set of her from many bad first impressions.
While small in stature, lacking in the imposing leadership status as her fellow members of the Final 3, and young in age at 22 years, Michelle was a force to be reckoned with throughout her stay in Hell’s Kitchen. She made mistakes, as everyone not named Meghan or T was prone to doing in that season, but she always recovered and improved from them in spite of the naysayers on her team. She was never the greatest in challenges or service but she was consistently far from the worst. When people derided her ability or her passion, she never shouted them down, but instead just strove to prove them wrong in action rather than waste words. Michelle easily earned the title of most improved throughout the season and as a result it was almost shocking to see her leave before the Final 2.
As her status rose throughout the season, the chefs who previously had little to say about her evolved from antagonists to rivals. T and Meghan both eventually saw her as the threat she became and treated her appropriately, whilst Nick became her best friend of the season’s chefs. It was an impressive story for one of the chefs that could easily have been written off as cannon fodder from the start, and was by far the standout chef from Season 14 of Hell’s Kitchen.