'MasterChef: Legends' Season 11: Meet Annai, Tay and other Top 15 contestants
With only 15 white aprons available this season, the home cooks have no option but to put their absolute best foot forward
It is the season of 'Legends' on 'MasterChef' Season 11. With only 15 white aprons available this season as opposed to the usual 20, the home cooks have no option but to put their absolute best foot forward and impress not only the regular judges -- Gordon Ramsay, Aaron Sanchez and Joe Bastianich -- but also the other legendary celebrity chefs that are featured on the show.
Of the thousands of talented home cooks that auditioned with the hopes of receiving the coveted white apron, cooking in the 'MasterChef; kitchen, and hopefully winning the culinary competition show, these fifteen lucky home cooks managed to clear the first hurdle and got their hands on the white apron. Read on to know more about the top 15 contestants, since one of them will eventually be crowned 'MasterChef'.
Alejandro Valdivia, a 39-year-old professional animal trainer from Atlanta, Georgia, was the first recipient of the coveted white apron. Growing up in Cuba, he witnessed food shortage first hand, which inspired him to take to cooking after the family moved to America in 1994, when his mother won the Visa lottery. He presented fresh herb-crusted lamb chops with heirloom tomato carpaccio and parsnip puree to the judges. Alejandro's impeccable cooking and heartwarming story impressed all the judges, and he managed to get a yes from all the four judges.
Elyce is a 39-year-old salon owner from Chicago. She baked her signature dish -- red velvet mini cake with mascarpone cream cheese frosting and freeze-dried raspberries. It just took a bite of the decadent dessert for all the four judges to say a resounding yes to her. The guest judge, Emeril Lagasse, loved it so much that he was torn between deciding whether to take another bite of the delicious dessert or hug her for presenting him with such perfectly baked dessert. Gordon clearly sees a huge potential in Elyce, since he declared the dish as a 'MasterChef' finale-worthy dish!
Autumn is a 27-year-old bartender from Boston who left the judges singing praises of her after surprising them with her very bold and unique signature dish -- miso banana cake with cream cheese frosting, miso caramel sauce, and brûléed bananas. Her risk of presenting such a unique dish paid off as all the four judges had a hard time picking a flaw with the dish. Autumn too received four yes's from the judges, and walked away with the coveted white apron.
The 36-year old construction worker from Cromwell, Connecticut, would love to make a career change and pursue his passion of cooking. He whipped up his signature egg yolk ravioli with homemade ricotta, basil oil, roasted cherry tomatoes and crispy fried leeks. Despite getting a no from Gordon for his poorly season ricotta, Matt managed to impress the other three judges including his idol, Emeril. Matt left the kitchen feeling over the moon at not only winning the white apron but also getting to present his dish to his idol.
Miles is a 31-year-old YouTube gamer from Frisco, Texas. The gamer managed to rub off Joe the wrong way when he served his 'Miles-style' elegant chicken fried rice. For the Italian chef, serving a dish like fried rice was simply unacceptable, and was left feeling furious and offended when his fellow judges all gave him a yes! We can't wait to see what else Miles has up his sleeve.
Suu is a 30-year-old food blogger from Houston and she cooked her signature Burmese noodle soup with shrimp and coconut curry. Originally from a third-world country, Suu says she is inspired by her home country of Burma, and how people back home are grateful to just have a bowl of rice every day. Aaron compliments her “finesse” and “technique.” Emeril calls it “food of love.” Joe calls it “a profound immersion into Burmese cuisine.” Gordon says it’s the best dish of the night. While Suu walked out of the kitchen with her white apron, the judges began fighting amongst themselves over who would get to finish the tasty dish.
Annai is a 25-year old legal assistant from Dallas. She enjoys adding a Latin twist to comfort foods. Annai hopes to show the world that Mexican food can be elegant. She cooked flank steak chili relleno with rice and beans, tomato sauce, Oaxaca cheese and Mexican crema. Gordon was bowled by her plating skills, while the other chefs enjoyed her cooking style. Annai managed to leave the kitchen with a white apron.
Anne, a 39-year old small business owner from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her biggest inspiration is her father, who taught her to cook, who sadly passed away from early-onset dementia. She whipped up roasted duck a la cherry with mashed potatoes and bok choy. Gordon praised the beautifully cooked duck but felt that her bok choy was raw. Aaron says the duck is so good that he can overlook the other elements of the dish. Joe says the duck is overcooked and the bok choy tastes like dirty water. Thankfully, guest judge Curtis Stone didn't mind the dish, so Anne managed to get her hands on the white apron despite a strong no from Joe.
Joseph, a 32-year old environmental engineer from Houston. His passion for cooking led him to the culinary competition show. Joseph served steamed red snapper with Southeast Asian herb salad. His simple-yet perfectly cooked dish managed to impress all the four judges, which led to the environmental engineer walking away with the crisp white apron.
Abe, a 22-year-old NYU student is the youngest home cook to make the cut. His love for cooking comes from the frequent travel he was able to do as a child because of his mother's job as a diplomat. He served his signature dish crispy-skinned red snapper with avocado puree, deep-fried tostada, and pico de gallo. Abe managed to impress guest judge- Curtis Stone, Gordon Ramsay, and Joe Bastianich with his dish but got a no from Aaron Sanchez. Abe left with a white apron after impressing the other judges.
Kelsey, a 32-year old physical therapist from Indianapolis, cooked up a crispy steelhead trout with pea & tarragon puree, fingerling potatoes and sautéed mushrooms. The judges were impressed by Kelsey's plating technique and labeled it as 'restaurant quality'. She walked out of the kitchen with four yes's and a white apron.
Lexy is a 23-year-old stay-at-home mom from Zion, Illinois. Her cooking dreams have been put on the backburner, due to her family's economic situation. Her husband works at a factory and money is tight in their house. This competition will allow her to pursue her dreams and get her family to a better place. She presented a stuffed burger with black garlic & goat cheese and roasted Brussels sprouts. Lexy explains to the panel that her grocery budget is $40 per week, which has made her inventive and creative. Joe is bothered by the burnt bun, but calls the dish “good,” not “great.” Gordon thinks the burger is worth $40 and guest judge Paula Deen calls it “truly delicious.” Aaron calls it “perfect on all cylinders.” Joe says “no” to Lexy, but the other three judges have given her an apron.
Tay is a 29-year-old radio host from Omaha, Nebraska. Tay's passion and love for cooking stems from his father, who he watched cooking with "soul" while listening to James Brown. The radio host presented his signature dish -- a buttermilk biscuit apple pie with vanilla bean whipped topping. While all the judges couldn't stop praising Tay's unique take on the classic dish, Aaron Sanchez had to give it a pass as he felt that Tay took too many liberties with the classic dish. Luckily for Tay, he got the yes's from the remaining judges, so he left the kitchen with a white apron.
Mary Jayne is a 59-year-old hospice nursing assistant from Bastrop, Texas. This Southern belle is all sass and was thrilled to see her idol, Paula Deen, as the guest judge. Despite juggling between several careers in her life, Mary has finally zeroed in on pursuing her passion for cooking as her profession. Her love for cooking came from watching her mother cook. Mary lost her mother at the age of 19, but has fond memories of spending time with her in the kitchen. She presented the judges with a key lime habanero pie with a toasted macadamia nut crust. Aaron declares that he has never had a dessert this tasty with chili in it before. The judges loved her dish so much that they began fighting amongst themselves for another helping of the delicious pie. Mary left the kitchen with a white apron while Gordon was busy licking the plate clean.
Michael, a 47-year-old lifestyle coach from New Jersey, impressed the judges with his vegan “crab” cake with jalapeno remoulade and dill potato salad. The judges were not only in awe of his dish but also his well-built muscular body. Michael got his hands on the coveted white apron after impressing the judges with his vegan dish.
'MasterChef: Legends' Season 11 airs every Wednesday at 8/7c on FOX.