The top 19 home cooks in America now take their place in the MasterChef competition. The judges - Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich - welcome them into the kitchen of their dreams.
The contestants are then given their first Mystery Box Challenge. Each of them must prepare, cook and present one amazing dish using only the ingredients hidden under the boxes at their stations. At the end of 60 minutes, the person with the winning creation will be given a huge advantage in the next stage of the competition. The hopefuls lift their crates to reveal a potato, a tomato, a few pieces of bacon and some chocolate.
As the judges walk among the contestants, Gordon is shocked to see so many cooks using the chocolate, which he calls the "devil in the box" - the ingredient the contestants should steer clear of. When time is up, Gordon, Joe and Graham take one last look at all of the dishes to choose the three standouts they will taste.
The first cook they select is Bime. The boxing coach from Taunton, Massachusetts, presents his poached egg over potato hash. Gordon says the egg is sublime. The second person is Natasha, the stay-at-home mom from San Diego, California, who has prepared a lemon pie tart with bacon chocolate ganache. Graham says the dessert has a lot of finesse. The final selection is made from one of three frittatas - it is Krissi's that impresses the judges.
After conferring, the judges choose Natasha as the winner. As a reward, she gets to go into the MasterChef pantry and pick the food that everyone must cook in the next Elimination Test.
She is presented with three high-end ingredients - langoustine shellfish, veal chops and Stilton blue cheese. As an extra advantage, Natasha learns she will not need to compete in this challenge, so she can choose the ingredient she thinks will be the most difficult for all of her fellow competitors.
When the judges return to the kitchen, they inform the players that Natasha has one more advantage. She gets to pick one more chef who is safe from elimination and spared from this challenge. She chooses Savannah because she thinks she's a weaker player and will be easy to take out later.
The judges then present the ingredient chosen by Natasha - the langoustine shellfish. Many of the contestants are unsure how to cook the unusual seafood.
When time is up, Krissi is the first to present to the judges. She has prepared a langoustine mac 'n' cheese. Joe says the flavor is well-balanced. Gordon is surprised to admit that he likes it.
The judges call Jordon's langoustine bisque delicious and perfectly prepared. However, Howard's poached langoustine with citrus salad does not impress, and Joe threatens to throw him out right immediately for wasting their time.
Next up is Luca with a langoustine fettuccine that is overcooked. Lynn brings up a poached langoustine with a lime beurre blanc, and Graham says he likes the flavor. Kathy's boiled langoustine with rice is boring, while Sasha's langoustine and grits is just wrong.
Jessie's tempura langoustine is perfectly coated and seasoned. Gordon says it's the best he's tasted. Unfortunately, the judges are not as complimentary with final dish presented, and Joe spits out Malcolm's stuffed langoustine on pasta.
After some discussion, Joe, Graham and Gordon make a decision. Jordan and Jessie are judged to have made the best dishes and will become team captains in the next challenge.
Howard, Malcolm and Sasha end up in the bottom three. The judges see the potential in Malcolm and Howard more than Sasha, so the singer from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is ultimately sent home.
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It's a tale of two boxes.
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