“MASTERCHEF” top 18 finalists announced

Stockbroker, homemaker, contractor, health coach and series’ first blind contestant among top 18

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 8:58pm

After a nationwide search drew nearly 30,000 hopefuls, the Top Amateur Cooks were flown to Los Angeles for a chance to become America’s next MasterChef. Following a grueling round of auditions and culinary boot camp, the MasterChef judges have chosen this season’s Top 18 finalists: Stacey Amagrande, Monti Carlo, Michael Chen, Tali Clavijo, Samantha de Silva, Felix Fang, Christine Ha, Mike Hill, Helene Leeds, Scott Little, Dave Mack, Josh Marks, David Martinez, Frank Mirando, Tanya Noble, Becky Reams, Anna Rossi and Ryan Umane. Only one finalist will be crowned the MASTERCHEF winner and walk away with a cookbook deal and the $250,000 grand prize.

The competition continues tomorrow, Tuesday, June 12 (8:00-9:00 p.m.), on FOX as the top 18 enter the MasterChef kitchen for the first time and compete in their first mystery box challenge. The contestants have one hour to prepare a dish using only the surprise ingredients, and the weakest dish will send one contestant home. Later, the judges will challenge the remaining hopefuls to cook an outstanding risotto dish in an elimination round that will end the competition for one more amateur cook.

On Monday, June 18 (8:00-9:00 p.m.), the judges put the remaining 16 contestants through the ultimate culinary boot camp when they visit military base Camp Pendleton, CA. The amateur cooks will split up into two teams to prepare a healthy and balanced meal for 201 servicemen and women. Elimination is on the line as the losing team will complete an intense pressure test that will send another contestant home.

Below are the MasterChef Top 18:

Stacey Amagrande

Age: 29

Occupation: Farmer’s Market Manager

Hometown: Apple Valley, CA

 

Keep up with Stacey at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Stacey 

www.facebook.com/MC3Stacey     

Favorite Dish To Cook: “Soups, stews and curries.  Dishes with many ingredients, that require slow cooking.


 

Monti Carlo  

Age: 36

Occupation: Homemaker

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Keep up with Monti at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Monti  

www.facebook.com/MC3Monti   

Favorite Dish To Cook: “Oxtail Stew! It’s a slow cook recipe, so it takes all day to prepare, but the way your house smells about two hours in is outrageous!”


 

Michael Chen  

Age: 19

Occupation: College Student (Meteorology)  

Hometown: Austin, TX


 

Keep up with Michael at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Michael   

www.facebook.com/MC3Michael

Favorite Dish To Cook: “My signature dish – dumplings! It’s such a simple concept, but I love how anybody can have a role in helping to make them. I’ve made dumplings with 70-year-olds and five-year-olds.”


 

Tali Clavijo

Age: 29

Occupation: Musician

Hometown: Chicago, IL

 

Keep up with Tali at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Tali    

www.facebook.com/MC3Tali

Favorite Dish To Cook: “Foam, sous vide and explosive spheres. I love to transform and reinvent simple foods into modern masterpieces.”


 

Samantha de Silva

Age: 27

Occupation: Design Consultant

Hometown: Miami Beach, FL

 

Keep up with Samantha at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Samantha

www.facebook.com/MC3Samantha

Favorite Dish To Cook: “Black truffle and pancetta brioche bread pudding topped with a poached egg. I adore the earthiness of the truffle, mixed with the rich saltiness of pancetta and the wonderful creaminess of the egg yellow. Truly decadent! ”



Felix Fang

Age: 24

Occupation: Food Runner

Hometown: Hollywood, CA

 

Keep up with Felix at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Felix  

www.facebook.com/MC3Felix

Favorite Dish To Cook: “I don’t have just one favorite thing to cook! But I enjoy exploring new cuisines and trying unfamiliar techniques. I make a lot of kettle corn because it’s a fast, cheap and tasty treat.”


 

Christine Ha

Age: 32

Occupation: Graduate Student  

Hometown: Houston, TX

 

Keep up with Christine at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Christine   

www.facebook.com/MC3Christine 

Favorite Dish To Cook: “Vietnamese eggrolls. My mom used to make them for special occasions, and they were my favorite thing to eat growing up. As for sweets, I love making ice cream and I have been experimenting with various creative flavors, like honey lavender.”


 

Mike Hill

Age: 40

Occupation: Contractor

Hometown: Powder Springs, GA

 

Keep up with Mike at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Mike    

www.facebook.com/MC3Mike   

Favorite Dish To Cook: “French toast – a Sunday tradition in my house. My daughter and I get up early on Sunday, go shopping and make French toast together. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”


 

Helene Leeds

Age: 35

Occupation:  Health Coach

Hometown: Baldwin, MD

 

Keep up with Helene at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Helene    

www.facebook.com/MC3Helene

Favorite Dish To Cook: “Salads and raw superfood brownies and cheesecakes. Yum!”


 

Scott Little  

Age: 38

Occupation: Interactive Producer

Hometown: Annandale, VA

 

Keep up with Scott at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Scott     

www.facebook.com/MC3Scott   

Favorite Dish To Cook: “Pork shoulder, because the amazing flavors are so versatile. You can create tons of different hearty dishes from it.”


 

Dave Mack

Age: 27

Occupation: Food Sales Director

Hometown: Davie, FL

 

Keep up with Dave at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Dave     

www.facebook.com/MC3Dave

Favorite Dish To Cook: “Tomato-based sauces that are good enough to eat like soups. While road-tripping for three months, I picked fresh, ripe tomatoes and made the best chunky marinara sauce.”


 

Josh Marks

Age: 24

Occupation: U.S. Army Contract Specialist

Currently Resides: Jackson, MS

 

Keep up with Josh at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Josh      

www.facebook.com/MC3Josh

Favorite Dish To Cook: “My signature dish – étouffée. It’s versatile enough to make anyone like étouffée. I enjoy trying different variations, like shrimp, chicken or crawfish. I’m drooling just thinking about it!


 

David Martinez

Age: 32

Occupation: Educational Administrator  

Currently Resides: Glencoe, IL

 

Keep up with David at:

www.twitter.com/MC3David       

www.facebook.com/MC3David

Favorite Dish To Cook: “My favorite thing to cook is always something I haven’t made before.  I love the challenge of making something new for weeks until I get it perfect.” 



Frank Mirando

Age: 28

Occupation: Stockbroker

Hometown: Holtsville, NY

 

Keep up with Frank at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Frank

www.facebook.com/MC3Frank

Favorite Dish To Cook: “Long-braised pork tomato sauce, a.k.a. Sunday sauce. It’s the meal that has brought my family and most other Italian American families together every week for generations.”


 

Tanya Noble

Age: 21

Occupation: Sociology Student

Hometown: Austin, TX

 

Keep up with Tanya at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Tanya 

www.facebook.com/MC3Tanya 

Favorite Dish To Cook: “A good piece of pan-fried chicken. Perhaps it’s my southern roots (I was born in Texas after all!), or perhaps it’s something about how deliciously crispy the skin gets, but either way, I love it!”


 

Becky Reams

Age: 26

Occupation: Food Photographer

Hometown: Stilwell, KS

 

Keep up with Becky at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Becky  

www.facebook.com/MC3Becky 

Favorite Dish To Cook: “Anything that is regional, local and in season. I try to cook regionally by cooking with local seafood, produce and sustainably-raised meats.”


 

Anna Rossi

Age: 28

Occupation: Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Hometown: Boston, MA

 

Keep up with Anna at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Anna   

www.facebook.com/MC3Anna 

Favorite Dish To Cook: “Local and seasonal food. I love preparing food that is intentional, that has a story and celebrates our community and where we live.”


 

Ryan Umane

Age: 26

Occupation: Unemployed

Hometown: New York, NY 

 

Keep up with Ryan at:

www.twitter.com/MC3Ryan    

www.facebook.com/MC3Ryan

Favorite Dish To Cook: “My special meatloaf. It’s quick, easy, delicious, economical and lasts me all week.”


MasterChef is produced by Shine America and One Potato Two Potato and is based on a format created by Franc Roddam and Shine. Shine International handles distribution for the MasterChef format. Elisabeth Murdoch, Eden Gaha, Robin Ashbrook, Gordon Ramsay, Adeline Ramage Rooney, Patricia Llewellyn and Ben Adler serve as executive producers.

“Like” MasterChef on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MasterChef. Follow the series on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MASTERCHEFonFOX and join the discussion at #masterchef.

About Shine America:

Shine America is a world leader in producing and distributing compelling scripted and unscripted television and digital content, building brands through the leveraging of its intellectual property and creating integrated marketing opportunities for advertisers. Shine America is known for popular and award-winning original series including The Biggest Loser, Tabatha Takes Over, Shear Genius and The Buried Life; adaptations of Shine Group formats MasterChef, One Born Every Minute and Parental Control; long-running scripted hits The Office, Ugly Betty and The Tudors; and over 20 groundbreaking original online series on MSN, Yahoo!, YouTube premium channels and other platforms, many of these produced in partnership with global brands such as Toyota, Kraft Foods, Subway and Microsoft. Through its distribution arm, Shine International, Shine America distributes its extensive library of programming and formats to more than 150 countries.

About One Potato Two Potato:

One Potato Two Potato was co-founded by Gordon Ramsay and Optomen Television in 2008 to exclusively create and produce worldwide content for Ramsay ventures across all media including television, digital and publishing. Renowned for award-winning original programming, the company produces high-quality TV shows on both sides of the Atlantic, including Hotel Hell making its debut late summer 2012 and the smash hit MasterChef, both for FOX, as well as Gordon Ramsay Behind Bars and Gordon’s Great Escape for Channel 4 in the U.K. and My Kitchen, for UKTV’s Good Food Channel. Ramsay’s groundbreaking and hugely popular Channel 4 series, Cookalong Live, aired as a special on FOX and has since become a successful format around the world. OPTP is also currently in development on several exciting unscripted and scripted projects, within and beyond the food genre, for network, cable and digital platforms in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. OPTP distributes its hugely popular TV programming and formats to more than 200 territories via Optomen International. The company became part of the All3Media group in 2010. Find out more about One Potato Two Potato at www.onepotatotwopotato.tv.  

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