As the kids say, we only stan legends.
And MasterChef Season 10 Episode 1 gave came out the gate with the iconic Emeril Lagasse on top of our coveted MasterChef trio of Gordon, Aaron, and Joe.
Can we keep Emeril forever?!
Gordon made sure he pointed it out multiple times that he's been trying to get Emeril to come on the show for the better part of a decade, and Gordon was practically gleeful that he wore down the BAM king.
But honestly, there wasn't a better time for him to pop up than the opening hour of a season devoted to legends, right?
It felt so good witnessing Emeril Lagasse onscreen in a format like this. As someone who recalls vividly coming home from school and watching his series with my grandmother while I did homework, his very presence brought back such fond memories.
Emeril has such a homey quality to him. He makes you feel as if you know him personally, and he has that sweet Italian uncle vibe that's so so wholesome.
He's also a living legend who has inspired millions of chefs, so to be in his presence was one of the highest honors for many of the aspiring chefs who braved the judges' critiques for a shot at earning that white apron.
And the brood of individuals had their work cut out for them. All of these people were competing, and there are only 15 available aprons!
There's little room for mistakes with such a limit, and everyone had to impress the hell out of at least three of the judges to walk away with an apron.
MasterChef auditions are where you get your first impression of the contestants, their culinary styles, personalities, and background story.
It's nothing for you to get so wrapped up in their life story that you root for them to win or get their shot, and it devastates you when you've heard their story or learned pieces of their life, and they fall short.
The series ability to make viewers invest in these people in five minutes or less is one of many things that makes it so appealing and heartwarming.
Of course, Joe knows how to undercut all the shmaltz with some of his brutal zingers and critiques. We barely made it to the ten-minute mark before he was telling some poor chap, "The good news is that dish is something you'd see in a restaurant. The bad news is that restaurant would most likely be in an airport."
What are you supposed to do with that? Goodness, Joe, you're not supposed to kill their dreams! Damnit if that well-dressed man and his barbs don't make for half the fun, though.
Outside of that, and the adorable mother and daughter duo who didn't make the cut, most of the hour focused on those who did get an apron and the judges wavering on if they would give one to them.
Alejandro was the first, and I cannot be the only one who thinks this man looks like a Cuban Bradley Cooper!
He's pretty, sweet, passionate, and he can cook. It doesn't get much better than that.
Alejandro was already endearing with his story about moving to the States from Cuba via the immigration lotto. He's been making use of his life in American ever since.
His pan-seared lamb chops looked better than my last attempt at lamb, to be honest, but what seemed to win over the judges more than anything was his drive, passion, and ambition.
And there is something about Alejandro that draws you in and convinces you that he's worth the risk. He has the raw talent but with room to grow, moldable, and that something they can work with here.
Matt, the full-time construction worker dad with eyebrows worth envying, was another standout. Right now, he comes across wholesome, and he's doing this for his girls more than anything else.
However, he does seem like he could potentially be quite the competitor if he sticks around long. He's also someone that could be full of surprises.
It was an unexpected move when he chose to make the judges egg-yolk ravioli. The good thing about it is he's aware of the show and how that's a signature dish for it, but on the other hand, we didn't get a feel for his personality or culinary style through that dish.
He walked away with an apron, but I can't tell you what type of cuisine he'll be bringing to the table. His execution was impressive as the ravioli was perfectly cooked, and he nailed the runny egg aspect.
However, he was way too heavy-handed with the pesto sauce, and he needs to work on plating and finesse.
But bless him, he was an adorable bundle of nerves cooking in front of Emeril, who he expressed was his idol, and Matt damn near looked ready to pass out when not only did Emeril give him the final "yes" he needed, but he got to shake the man's hand.
Autumn was someone else who considered herself a bit of an Emeril Lagasse superfan. But she made a fan out of me with her baking skills and creativity.
As someone with a sweet tooth who appreciates it when someone can combine sweet and savory, her Banana Miso Cake was a shocker.
Who would ever think of combining banana and miso? Who'd ever consider turning that unusual combination into a cake?!
Somehow, this woman pulled together this recipe and delivered a perfectly baked cake in under 45 minutes. Hopefully, this is one of those recipes that they'll place online or in the book or something.
The miso, banana, brown sugar, and caramel came together beautifully, and it impressed the judges. Her creativity alone was enough to earn her an apron, and that she knew how to play with her flavor profiles and bake well worked to her advantage.
The bakers may be the dark horses this season if Autumn and Elyse are any indications. Autumn impressed with her Banana Miso, but bloody hell, Elyse's Red Velvet Cake looked like something out of a magazine.
It looked mouthwatering good, and it's a pity you can't reach through your screen and test-taste yourself.
She said the recipe is a family one that her mother passed to her, and it's one of the reasons she landed her husband and based on how the judges reacted to it, she was right.
Her presentation was pure perfection, well, if you ignore Gordon's OCD moment with the upside-down raspberry. The woman knows how to plate!
It was a work of art, and it almost would've made you regret cutting into it at all.
Also, red velvet cakes can be hard to make. Too often, they end up dense. But Elyse's cake was so moist that the fork glided through it without any effort.
Elyse brought her A-game, and she's representing the bakers. If she's starting the competition with a finale-level dessert, then how will she fare for the remainder of her journey?
It wasn't a surprise that she got all four yeses or that the judges were probably squabbling over the cake when she left.
They had a similar reaction to Suu's Burmese dish, and goodness, it did look divine. Suu's line about how cooking went from a chore to a choice for her, especially when she moved to America and made food that reminded her of home, told you all you needed to know about her.
I love that Suu has a distinct style, whether she's voiced it or not, a mission, and that's to introduce Burmese cuisine to the broader public, teach people about her culture and cuisine, and its many influences.
She garnered even more respect when she spoke about deriving from a third-world country and how important food is -- how impactful and valuable things like rice are.
You get a bit of history, culture, and love with her dishes. The judges responded to that well. On top of it, she already presents dishes that look as if they're from some of the world's finest restaurants.
Gordon hailed her dish the best of the night, and Joe described it as "a profound immersion into Burmese cuisine." No one casually receives high-level praise from Joe like that.
Emeril utilized a rare phrase he doesn't dole out often, "food of love," and that was as great as it gets.
They didn't even have to vote on her; it was a given that she was getting an apron. Of all the aspiring chefs they showed throughout the hour, Suu's probably the one to beat right now.
She's one to watch out for, and she also seems like someone who can rise to the occasion and take on any challenge by making it her own.
But of all the aprons handed out, the one that seemed premature was Miles. He came in naming a dish after himself, and according to the judges, it wasn't even the dish he said it was.
He claimed he made chicken fried rice, but it didn't meet the criteria for that title. Miles' dish didn't look the most appealing either, and there's something to be said about his lack of color to make the dish pop, his portions, and his overall presentation.
However, whatever magic mojo who put in it appealed to Gordon, who thought the flavors were there and impressive. He seemed surprised that he liked the dish, and it spoke to Emeril as well.
Truthfully, it seemed like Aaron backtracked on his initial feelings on the dish because of Gordon and Emeril. It's like he thought he was missing out on something.
Joe wasn't impressed, and neither was I. Miles lucked up with that apron, and he probably will be one of the first eliminated, which lowkey feels like he took a spot from someone who was probably more deserving.
But it's still early, so who knows?
Over to you, MasterChef Fanatics.
Do you love Emeril joining the judges? Which contestant stood out to you the most? Hit the comments below!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.