MasterChef United Tastes of America: An Irrational Mystery Box Challenge, Tag Team Fiascos & Double Elimination

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A double dose of Masterchef: Tastes of America meant twice the drama, intensity, and eliminations.

And with MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11 and Masterchef Season 13 Episode 12, we're just shy of seeing who our top ten of the season will be.

With a mystery box challenge with guest judge Andre Rush and the infamous Tag Team challenge, the competition truly heated up with difficult and creative tasks that put the remaining contestants under pressure.

Rush and Ramsay with MD - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

Let's delve into what transpired and who headed home.

Crush on Rush

Rush Explains Rations - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

One of the most endearing components of Masterchef Season 13 Episode 11 was that total sweetheart MD had such a crush on Chef Andre Rush.

From the moment she saw him, she was flustered. You can't blame her for commenting on his massive biceps, and every time he got near her, she was a giggling schoolgirl. It was precious.

One of the things that MD adored the most about Chef Rush, and she couldn't wait to explain it to everyone, was how much charitable work he does.

In that way, her openness about that reminded one of that deep aloha meaning and spirit, and in hindsight, it hit harder how passionate she was about this when we knew she was from Maui.

MD Blends It Up - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

Since the fire, she's been volunteering, cooking for the displaced, and so much more, so check out her Madam Donut Instagram page to keep up and find ways to help.

But back to the competition. The downside of her not winning this challenge was that she couldn't get an immunity pin pinned to her by one of her heroes.

Andre Rush is iconic. He's won over 150 awards and cooked for four presidents, and that's not even half of his accomplishments.

He was definitely a memorable judge and someone they should invite back in future seasons.

Rush Shows Off - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

An Irrationally Difficult Challenge

Military rations are not good, and at first glance, it doesn't seem like something that one can elevate or turn into a delicious creation.

Nevertheless, the collaborative efforts of Chef Andre and Chef Gordon presented the contestants with a preview of what they could do if they knew how to get creative.

Together, these two legendary chefs made a delicious five-star dish with products that would otherwise turn your stomach because of the lack of visual appeal.

Ramsay and Rush - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

Joe blessedly never experienced a ration, so he was excited about trying them out in this new way, and the contestants were scratching their heads over this one and what they could present.

It was another one of those hours where some contestants disappeared to the background and didn't have much screen time, which sucked.

The contestants only had an hour to develop something fantastic for this challenge, and the team who lost during the Masterchef Season 13 Episode 10 got the last pick with their proteins.

It didn't make a big difference since everyone struggled to make their dishes.

Winding Down - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

On Their Own

One of the best and most exciting reveals from the hour was that the regional teams are no more, and it's every person for themself.

This means that people who've run in the middle or been under the radar can stand out more.

It also means some of the weaker chefs don't have the best in their region to hide behind, and so forth.

This switch-up almost instantly changed the game, forcing people who became too reliant on hiding behind their partners to feel the pressure.

Joe B. - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

Criticisms and Observations

The group attempting to work through this challenge was a disaster. Kolby got stuck in his head too long and was overwhelmed even though he had ground pork, a solid protein to work with for the challenge.

Poor MD's crush on Rush had her so distracted she was scorching sauce for her dish and unable to vocalize anything.

Brynn was putting too much saffron into her scallop dish while Charles wasn't even tasting along the way or hearing Rush when he repeatedly mentioned that the rations were high in sodium.

Lizzie with the Pan - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

Charles had a salty and spicy dish, which was overpowering on the palate.

Nina's initial observation about her Tikka Masala was that it was too acidic. And Wayne, as usual, tried to do way too much, angling to use almost all of the items in the ration instead of the minimum three that they expected.

The Frontrunners

Grant slayed this competition, which was a bit unexpected. His finesse and flair with his Cracker-crusted Amberjack with lentil and spinach puree and pan-fried gnocchi were impressive.

Rush Staredown - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

His plating skills have gotten better, and you know he's done something worthwhile when Joe complimented the gnocchi he made out of freaking au gratin dust in a pack.

With his strongest dish of the season yet, Grant has found the sweet spot time to start peaking, and he's slowly become a formidable opponent.

Despite Kolby's reservations and nervousness going into this challenge, he also pulled out one of the best dishes with his pork pork meatballs with tomato and basil ragu and peanut salad with lemon and applesauce vinaigrette made from what amounts to a powdered electrolyte drink!

Brynn's pan-seared scallops, saffron, lentil paella, potato croquettes, and romesco sauce were ambitious. She used six ingredients, but unlike Wayne, she wasn't overdoing it and had infinitely better execution.

The Rush Stare - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

It looked like an expensive dish you'd find at a fine-dining restaurant, and her using rations to make a romesco is the type of next-level, ballsy stuff that sets her apart.

Nevertheless, Grant took that win home, and it was well-deserved. Not only had he never won before, but his dish flowed better and had no real notes to it other than being perfect. So the best man won.

Mission Failures

Charles hit the bottom three again with his Thai curry halibut steaks with vermicelli noodle salad. The idea sounded good, but the execution was poor, which seems to be a pattern for Charles.

Charles Checks the Clock - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 8

He's always floating in the middle, coming up with unusual dishes he doesn't quite pull off and skating by.

The judges were not a fan of dry fish, strawberry jam noodles that didn't work and were too crunchy, and the spice-salt ration being off.

Wayne landed in the bottom again because his overconfidence got the better of him, and his lamb chops were raw.

You know it isn't good when the judges have to search for a piece of lamb to eat. To Wayne's credit, even though he shot himself in the foot trying to use too many ingredients, the rest of the components worked well; he just screwed himself with the lamb.

Wayne is Focused - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

My girl Nina struggled, too. Has anyone noticed how it's like she checked out of the competition roughly halfway through and hasn't been able to bounce back since?

It's almost like her heart stopped being in, and she was putting out things just to get by, which sucks for someone who was one of the strongest in the competition.

Joe called her Tikka Masala, "Mess hall," he wasn't wrong because it looked like something a cafeteria lady would slop on your plastic tray in prison. And this isn't Orange is the New Black; it's Masterchef!

It was a very loose interpretation of Tikka Masala, with the judges grinding their teeth. They were so annoyed.

Nina Hard at Work - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

It was a no-brainer that she'd go home, especially when her German Chocolate Cake fiasco was fresh in her mind, too.

It seemed like Nina was ready to go, too. And you can tell the judges loved her, so it was a tough loss but the right call.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Say what you will about Grant, but he's highly observant and had a great read on the remaining contestants and how to sabotage them in the best possible way.

His immunity win allowed him to pair up cooks for the Tag Team challenge, and he came up with the most chaotic pairings that damn near doomed everyone for failure.

Jen All Smiles - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

He couldn't have chosen better.

The most cutthroat choice was to pair Jennifer with Charles. You knew she would lose her shiitake mushrooms being paired with who has amounted to one of the weakest chefs remaining in the competition -- no shade to Charles.

Jennifer likes to control things, but she couldn't do that with Charles, and he was so overwhelmed for most of the competition that he was ineffective at doing damn near anything.

Jennifer wasn't lying when she said she could've succeeded at this challenge if she had done it herself. She tried to walk it back a bit, but speak on sister, you were right!

Charles Takes on a Challenge - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

Kennedy and James was another great team. While James is good, he sucks at listening to people, multi-tasking, leading, and working with others, as we saw during Masterchef Season 13 Episode 10.

Kennedy managed to exude a lot of patience and hold her own, and while they were disastrous for most of the prep time, they managed to do shockingly well in the end.

Reagan and Wayne were a solid match because Wayne micromanages, and Reagan's patience could easily run thin with it.

Sure enough, Wayne acted like someone who wanted to do everything himself and kept giving Reagan "busy work" instead of listening to her about the proper order of cooking.

Reagan Gets Her Hands Dirty - tall - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 5

Why did he have our girl chopping potatoes when that was so far on the list of things that needed immediate attention?

The joke was lowkey on him since he was the one who didn't listen to her and overcooked their steak, and her flavor profile for literally all the dishes is what made everything taste so good.

MD and Sav worked incredibly well together. Grant gave them a chance to show how capable they were and why those two got chosen to begin with this season.

They've both spent too much time riding the middle of the pack, resulting in limited screen time, and it was good to see them rise to the occasion and kick butt.

Sav Works to Get Ahead - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

Also, girl power, baby!

Kolby and Lizzie also worked incredibly well together, so they had fewer issues. Grant and Brynn also worked well together, and he gave himself an edge by choosing one of the best chefs in the competition as his partner.

The Results

Despite giving himself an edge, Brynn and Grant had a medical resulting dish.

Their sauce for the pasta appetizer sucked, and the shrimp were poorly cooked. They put way too much peppercorn on their filet mignon dish.

Hands In - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

Seriously, peppercorn is so much hotter than ground pepper, so less is always more with it.

The caramel sauce on their toffee sticky pudding was way too clunky and broken, and had other competitors not screwed up more; they easily could've been in the bottom, which would have immediately sent Brynn home.

Surprisingly, despite their hectic cooking and James failing to communicate and moving slowly, he and Kennedy had the best pasta sauce, although the pasta was too clunky. Their filet was a tad overcooked, but the seasoning was also perfect.

Kolby and Lizzie knocked it out of the park with a strong meal overall, and you could tell they would be the frontrunners.

Kolby Gets Down to Work - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

Ironically, Wayne and Reagan did well because of Reagan more than Wayne. She was smart enough not to put up too much of a fight and get things done, and it kept the ball rolling, even though she knew Wayne screwed up a few times.

He doesn't listen, bless his heart.

It was a good dish, not the worst, but it wouldn't win them immunity either.

MD and Sav pulled it out with the best meal of the hour. Their sticky toffee pudding was perfection. They had the best cook on their steak with great seasoning, and their pasta was impressive.

MD in the Pantry - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 11

They also worked together flawlessly, so it was no surprise they won the challenge, and I'm thrilled for them because they both needed that.

But it's also no surprise that Jennifer and Charles were at the bottom. Their meal was disastrous on all levels.

Their appetizer was basically inedible, with undercooked shrimp, raw pasta, and no sauce.

The steak was well-cooked but underseasoned, and the potatoes were good.

Charles Cooks - tall - MasterChef Season 13 Episode 2

But, ugh, that sticky toffee pudding was the worst. It looked like a hockey puck with no caramel sauce.

It was apparent that Charles would go home for that, and it was the right call. He did a fantastic job showcasing Cambodian food in this medium but wasn't cut out for this competition.

Over to you, Masterchef Fanatics. Did you agree with the eliminations? Sound off below.

And for more food-related content, check out our sister site, Food Fanatic.

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.

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