In tonight’s season 5 premiere, America’s MasterChef 2014 contestants learned from the judges that the competition begins “not at the ranges, but in the pantry.” Each cheftestant was directed to look in a mirror and then raid the pantry to meet the directive, to serve “you on a plate.”
Cheftestant Willie, 25, a church music director in Houston, Texas, makes his signature white wine and apricot chicken.
Francis L, 34, a New York music video director, fancies himself a molecular gastronomist, but his dreams of Wylie Dufresne territory are nearly shattered when he breaks his syringe, but is given a second chance. He says, “my strengths as a cook really come from my love of technology.”
Elise, 25, a Birmingham e-learning administrator, begins her quest with blueberry-goat cheese- basil hand pies, and follows up her next effort in one-last-chance territory with a second pie, this one a savory pot pie. Though chided by Gordon Ramsay for not leaving her comfort zone, she is, nonetheless, given an apron, and will proceed on to next week.
Astrid, 41, (who looks a little like Annabella Sciorra), is in food sales in Louisiana and tries out with coriander crusted shrimp, “this is me on a plate with a little bit of Latina.” She is nearly sent home for a dirty work station, muttering under her breath, “I thought they had people who cleaned,” but narrowly attains an apron in the last chance round.
Tyler, 27, is a hunting sales manager in Ohio, and, as a hunter, opts to serve up venison with chimichurri — an “homage” to him and where he grew up. He is nearly sent home immediately for not tasting his creations as he goes, and therefore failing to identify mistakes. Instead, Kevin is singled out for the same error, and is sent home at the half hour mark. “Turn off your gas; you are out of the competition.”
Early on, the judges praise Lexington’s Dan Wu for the heavenly smell of his Ramen stock., that he is quickly reducing with chicken bones, soy sauce, aromatics, ginger, garlic, etc. He receives the third apron awarded, and is lauded for his “pure, authentic, courageous cooking — simple, right on.”
Courtney, 25, is making a ricotta gnocchi with brown butter sage sauce, and divulges that during her senior year at college, even with five jobs, she had to make the decision to go work at a “gentleman’s club” just to make ends meet. She is awarded the judges’ first apron.
(Little) Gordon, 30, an LA law school grad, gets his apron on the second try with a take on chicken and the egg; 56-year-old stay-at-home Malibu dad, Leslie, also makes it in with his last chance effort.
Idaho’s Chandis, 24, is sent home for the cardinal rookie sin of serving the judges raw potatoes.
Twenty two cheftestants will advance to next week’s round.
MasterChef airs on Fox; check local listings, and tune in here for future recaps. In Lexington, you can join the MasterChef viewing crowds at Blue Stallion Brewing.
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Cheftestants who will advance to next week are:
Francis Biondi, 25, Orlando Florida
Whitney Bray, 28, Columbus Ohio
Cutter Brewer, 33, Beaumont TX
Elizabeth Cauvel, 31, Brooklyn NY
Ahran Cho, 18, Palo Alto CA
Leslie Gilliams, 56, Malibu CA
Christian Green, 29, New Orleans LA
Gordon Houston, 30, Irvine CA
Jordan Kaminski, 19, Muskego WI
Courtney Lapresi, 25, Philadelphia PA
Astrid Lavenia, 41, Mandeville LA
Francis Legge, 34, New York NY
Elise Mayfield, 28, Birmingham AL
Daniel McGuffey, 32, Los Angeles, CA
Willie Mike, 25, Houston TX
Kira Novak, 31, Youngstown OH
Victoria Scroggins, 35, San Angelo TX
Christine Silverstein, 31, Yonkers NY
Stephani Syfax-Shepherd, 25, Detroit MI
Tyler Viars, 27, Wilmington OH
Jaimee Vitolo, 23, Queens NY
Dan Wu, 39, Lexington KY
MasterChef Season 5, 2014 Recaps