The contestants gather in the MasterChef kitchen to hear judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich reveal the details of the next Mystery Box Challenge. The competitors will need to create one incredible dish using all or some of the items found inside a wooden crate.
When they lift the lids on their boxes, the home cooks find a bounty of ethnic ingredients from around the globe. Although the contestants are usually told exactly what they have to work with, in this challenge they'll have to figure it out for themselves.
With 60 minutes on the clock, the chefs begin to taste their options, which include elk flanks, salt-cured tuna and Chinese ground moss. Throughout the cooking process, the judges taste elements of all the cooks' dishes as they come together. After one last inspection, they choose the top three standouts - Eddie, Jordan and Bime.
Even though Eddie can't identify his ingredients, his elk flank with Japanese sweet potato puree impresses all three judges. Jordan's stacked salad with Chinese black moss and baby eel also tastes great and is well-balanced. Bime's surf-and-turf dish is beautifully plated, and Joe calls it a "tour de force."
Eddie is declared the winner, and he is put in control of the Elimination Test, where at least one person will leave the competition. The theme is pasta with a filling, and Eddie gets to choose either agnolotti, mezzaluna or caramelle. When he learns that he won't have to cook in the challenge, he picks the one he feels is most difficult - agnolotti.
Before they start cooking, Joe introduces a special guest who will give a demonstration: his mother, best selling cookbook author and restaurateur Lydia Bastianich. Eddie gets one last advantage and picks two more competitors who will not get to witness the demo. He selects James and Lynn, who must immediately leave the kitchen.
Once Lydia has shown the remaining contestants how make agnolotti, the 60-minute clock begins to tick down. The home cooks race into the pantry to choose their ingredients. Jessie decides to incorporate oxtail and braised short rib into her dish. Jonny is going to make a smoked maple syrup Alfredo sauce.
Since he missed the demo, Lynn blends his meat filling rather than using a grinder like his competitors. James, too, is making a sauce that strays from the traditional preparation of the dish.
With time running out, Beth's water hasn't come to a boil. She throws some pasta into the sautée pan and hopes it will cook properly but still manages to plate her dish before the judging begins.
Even though he is at a disadvantage, Lydia compliments James' agnolotti alla vodka. Unfortunately, Lynn's dish is too thick and is underseasoned.
Lydia doesn't find harmony in Jonny's squash agnolotti with maple Alfredo sauce, but both Jessie's meat pasta and Krissi's Swiss chard dish garner praise from the judges.
Despite the fact that Joe likes Beth's cheese-and-herb filling, he finds that her pasta is, not surprisingly, undercooked. When Howard presents his Mexican-influenced bell pepper and jalapeno pasta, Joe chastises him for being cavalier.
After tasting all of the dishes, Krissi and Jessie are named the top two of the test. They will be team captains in the next challenge.
On the flipside, Jonny, Lynn, Howard and Beth are told they have the worst dishes of the day. In the end, Gordon asks that the individual who is going home do the honorable thing and remove his own apron without having to be asked to do so. With that, Howard takes himself out of the competition.
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It's a tale of two boxes.
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