The queen of Southern cooking, Paula Deen, made a surprise visit to the Master Chef kitchen to present would-be chefs with a mystery box challenge. It included a plethora of ingredients including bacon, blackberries, chicken, collard greens, cream cheese, green tomatoes, grits, hot sauce, onions, pepper jelly, red peppers and red potatoes.
Before the challenge began, Paula asked the contestants to look in their kitchen drawers. There, each found a picture and letter from home.
Becky cried over the picture of her and her mom and wept more over a sweet letter from her dad. Monti hugged the picture of son Danger. Christine appreciated a note from her “biggest supporter” — her husband. Felix glanced lovingly at a photo of her with her mom and dad. Frank promised to win for his daughter as he stared lovingly at her photograph.
Mystery Box Challenge
The wannabe chefs got 60 minutes to prepare one stunning dish using the Southern ingredients they were given. As they cooked, the judges and Paula tasted their wares. When time was up, they zeroed in on the top three dishes.
The first dish was Becky’s; earning the cook her fourth trip to the top of the Master Chef kitchen. Her fried green tomatoes and okra with roasted chicken caused Paula to declare she loved it. Gordon Ramsay said she “put food on a plate with finesse”.
The second winning contender was Frank. He took his classic Southern ingredients and turned them into something special; a chick rémoulade. Paula Deen called the dish “delicious”. Joe Bastianich said it showed “great technique”, was “skillful” and “smart”.
The last chef to make it into the top three was David. He made roasted chicken with red pepper grits. Gordon Ramsay loved his approach to making grits tasty and called his effort “delicious”. Paula agreed, saying David showed he could “take humble food and turn it into something special”.
All three dishes were great, but there could only be one winner. That was Frank. As a prize for winning, he gained control over the elimination challenge.
The judges tasked the cooks to prepare a sushi platter containing vegetable tempura, California rolls and salmon, shrimp, tuna and yellow tail sushi. Their platters were to duplicate the one provided by the judges.
There was a twist to the challenge, however. The cooks would work in teams of two in a tag team situation. Frank got to name the teams. He strategically placed his main competition – Becky – with a chef he considered weak – David. Then he placed Monti and Felix together because they usually butt heads. Finally, he put Christine with Stacey.
Frank’s strategy worked somewhat. David and Becky failed to communicate meaningfully and Christine and Stacey floundered. However, Monti and Felix put their differences aside and rose to the challenge. It was their platter that rose to the top when the challenge was complete. Joe Bastianich said the platter looked good and the food was “nice.” Gordon Elliot said the fish was well cut, the tempura batter was “good” and the sushi looked like “jewelry on a plate”. Gordon Ramsay expressed admiration that the girls held it together without losing composure.
David and Becky’s sushi platter was a mess and no sauce made it on the plate. Gordon Ramsay dissected the sushi to show the cooks the differences in each one. He told them he “expected more”. Joe Bastianich said the challenge was “eye-opening”, exposing Becky’s flaw of leading only when she wanted to. He called their platter “greasy” and “disgusting”.
Christine and Stacey entered a platter that wasn’t complete. Stacey didn’t get the California rolls done. Graham Elliot noted his surprise at watching Stacey panic. Gordon Ramsay said the rice was “good” but the shrimp was “raw”.
That left little doubt who landed in the bottom team. The only question remaining was which of the two cooks would go home. In the end, the judges chose Stacey because she became panicked and let the challenge get the best of her.