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'MasterChef' judges eliminate three finalists, narrow field to 11


By Reality TV World staff, 08/19/2010 

MasterChef eliminated Jenna Hamiter, Avis White and Sheena Zadeh and narrowed the competition to 11 finalists during Wednesday night's two-hour broadcast on Fox.

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Wednesday night's two-hour episode began with the competition's newly-selected 14 finalists entering the MasterChef kitchen for the first time and immediately participating in their first challenge -- which gave them 45 minutes to each prepare a dish using a collection of 14 "mystery box" ingredients that included a double-cut pork chop, ciabatta bread, cabbage, tomatoes, brandy, chocolate, cinnamon, a lemon, and an apple.

Afterward, MasterChef judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot decided Sheena, Jake Gandolfo and Whitney Miller had created the challenge's top three dishes and named Whitney's dish -- southern fried pork chop with coleslaw -- the best overall.

As the first challenge's winner, Whitney got to determine the ingredient all 14 finalists would have to include in their next elimination challenge as well as five minutes -- twice the time of everyone else -- of time to select her ingredients from the MasterChef kitchen's pantry.

After learning the challenge's theme would be Chinese food, she selected Mandarin oranges as the required ingredient (Chinese mushrooms and duck were the other two options available).

The finalists then spent an hour preparing their Chinese-themed dishes -- which were once again judges by Gordon, Joe and Graham, who named Mike Kim's dish the elimination challenge's best and Sheena, Faruq Jenkins and Avis White its weakest.

After announcing Avis, a 47-year-old elderly caregiver from Vacherie, LA, was being eliminated, the judges then surprised the finalists by announcing that a second contestant -- Sheena, a 26-year-old marketing executive from Anaheim, CA -- would  also be leaving the MasterChef kitchen.

"This experience has been like none other," said Avis after her elimination.  "My cooking dream is still alive, it's not dead.  This competition has ended for me, but it hasn't ended my dream."

"I don't think it was the right decision to let me go so fast," said Sheena.  "Especially on that challenge.  If I were able to stay, I could have done some really cool things."

The 12 remaining finalists were then taken to the Camp Pendleton near San Diego, where they learned they would be divided into two teams that would be tasked with preparing dinner -- one entree, two sides and dessert -- for 400 U.S. Marines in three hours.

As the last challenge's winner, Mike was allowed to select which five finalists would join him on the Blue team, which he would lead. 

He selected Jake, Lee Knaz, Tracy Nailor, Anthony "Tony" Carbone, and Sheetal Bhagat for the Blue team, which left Faruq, Whitney, Jenna, KimDung "Slim" Huynh, David Miller, and Sharone Hakman to become the members of the "underdog" Red team.

Both teams then planned their menus and began cooking their dinners. 

However after preparing the Red team's grilled skirt steak entree, Sharone -- who had quickly emerged as the team's de-facto leader --  became concerned that Faruq and David had likely underestimated the amount of the potato and bacon au gratin and roasted vegetables side dishes they would need.

"We got two hundred or three hundred people we're feeding and we got three [pans]?  That's not going to work," Sharone lamented afterwards.

Once the teams began serving their dinners, it quickly began clear that the soldiers (who were allowed to decide which meal they wanted) preferred the Red team's meal to that of the Blue team, which featured apple raisin stuffed pork loin, creamy garlic scalloped potatoes and roasted corn salad.

But the longer line only succeeded in making Sharone's concern come true and the Red team managed to run out of side dishes while more than 100 soldiers were still in line.

In the end, the judges decided that while the Red team had delivered an "amazing" meal that featured "a perfect steak with perfect sauce" which had outshined the Blue team's pork loin, their failure to prepare enough of their side dishes was a fatal flaw.

"Red team, you must have made the most delicious barbeque sauce ever made in Camp Pendleton," Gordon said as he announced the judges had decided to declare the Blue team the winners.  "It was a very, very close contest."

Since they lost the challenge, the Red team members then had to compete in a pressure test in which one of them would be eliminated.  One by one, they were brought into the MasterChef kitchen and tasked with naming the ingredients of a 20-ingredient Texas-style chili they could sample.

Once they named a single incorrect ingredient they would no longer be able to name any additional ingredients, and the finalist who named the fewest correct ingredients would be eliminated.

Whitney began the test by naming 12 correct ingredients before incorrectly naming chili powder, however she ended up advancing when Faruq followed next and could only name nine ingredients before guessing parsley incorrectly. 

Jenna then followed next but she also incorrectly guessed chili powder on her eighth turn, which allowed Faruq to advance.  Slim, David and Sharone then all managed to correctly name eight ingredients in a row, resulting in Jenna's elimination.

"The MasterChef experience was life-changing and amazing," the 23-year-old homemaker from Euless, TX said afterwards. 

"It has really opened my eyes just to people, and to experiences.  Taking a risk, leaving home.  And although everything has been great, I know that I've got my family waiting for me and that's really where my heart is and I'm happy that I'm going to be back with my kids and my family."

MasterChef's next episode will air Wednesday, August 25 at 8PM ET/PT on Fox.

(Photo credit Fox)


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