MasterChef Legends: Say hello to your Mystery Box

After last week’s dessert challenge that saw the home cooks trying to have their cake and eat it too, Season 11 of MasterChef doesn’t let up one bit. The cooks need to bring their collective A game because the time has come for the first Mystery Box Challenge of the season.

For those new to the world of MasterChef, the Mystery Box Challenge is exactly what it sounds like. Each cook has a box at their station and the contents are a mystery. (Hence the name.) It usually revolves around a theme and it places all the home cooks on a somewhat even playing field no matter how much or little experience you may have.

For the first Challenge, it revolves around all things beef. That is thanks to the arrival of Michael Mina as this week’s MasterChef Legend. The man has over 40 restaurants around the world and is known as a chef who can cook one of the best steaks in the country.

After the cooks are treated to a cooking demo by Mina and Gordon Ramsay, they fan out to pick their station. The contents of the boxes include everything from New York strip and fillet mignon to beef cheek and sweetbreads. Think of it as meat musical chairs with no one wanting the Sweetbreads.

Some MasterChef cooks had a hard time with some of the easiest beef cuts.

The cooks are given a hour and then all hell breaks loose. Some cooks like Matt and Lexy score easier, more familiar cuts while others aren’t so lucky. In particular Anne, who ends up with beef cheek, Suu who gets short ribs (which take forever to get tender) and Abe, who draws the sweetbreads, might be in trouble before they even start cooking.

However, Abe turns what many would see as a disaster into one of the top dishes of the young season. His deep fried sweetbread with butternut squash puree is a huge hit with all the judges and it lands him in the Top 3. He is joined by Joseph, who in wanting to show he can cook more than just fish made shiso-wrapped flank steak with pickled radishes and Kelsey thanks to her seared skirt steak with salsa roja.

Eventually Abe would get the win and a dinner for two at Michael Mina’s flagship steakhouse in San Francisco. It’s quite the turnaround going from the Bottom 3 last week to the Top 3 and a win this week.

Of course, for every winner there has to be a loser. For the debut Mystery Box Challenge of the season the first contender for a trip home was Anne and her braised beef cheek with creamy polenta which was a disjointed mess. Then there was Lexy and her New York strip steak with roasted potatoes. While the steak was okay, the potatoes were underdone which is a big no-no in (let’s say it together) a season of legends.

Finally there was Matt and his horrendously cooked fillet mignon. When I saw he got the fillet I thought there was no way he could screw this up. It’s a fillet mignon! Anyone who knows anything about cooking should be able to prepare one well enough to not go home.

Well, you would think that, wouldn’t you? Turns out that’s not always the case and Matt turned his white apron in.

With Matt going home to learn how to cook a fillet and it being announced Mary Jane had to leave MasterChef due to health reasons (Don’t worry. She’s fine.) That means there are 11 home cooks remaining and the Top Ten is now starring them all in the face. No pressure in the season of legends, am I right?

What do you think Guilty Eats Nation? Did Matt deserve to go home or should it have been another home cook? Leave a comment below and let us know or join the conversation on our Twitter and Facebook pages.