After making it from the Top 40 to the Top 20, Murrieta resident Dino Luciano recently competed to continue on as a contestant in FOX Network’s popular cooking show “MasterChef.” Luciano faced off against 19 other contestants in a bid to stay alive in front of world-renowned judges Gordon Ramsay, Aarón Sanchez and Christina Tosi.
In the third episode of the season, which aired Wednesday, June 14, Luciano competed in his first mystery box challenge. Contestants were given a wooden basket with a 12 mystery items under the theme of “All American Grocery bag.” These 12 items are the most popular ingredients found on any American home cook’s shopping list and in one hour, competitors had to create a “MasterChef-worthy” dish to present to the judges.
“The show wants you to bring your own background and culture and cater your food toward who you are,” Luciano said of the mystery baskets which contained the same ingredients for each of the contestants
Under the pressure of a time constraint, contestants work on their feet amid the distraction of 19 other chefs attempting to stay alive in the competition.
“We have a couple of seconds to figure out an entire menu on the spot,” Luciano explained.
“The judges expect you to try to create something five-star worthy but also bring something you’ve never seen before.” Luciano said, adding that he pushed himself to enhance his skills, “I always tried to create something new. The hardest part is to think of something outside the box every challenge.”
Following the challenge, the judges choose the Top 3 dishes to highlight and the Bottom 3 dishes to critique with the winner receiving an advantage for the following challenge.
In the “All-American” challenge, Luciano’s dish did not land him in the top three or the bottom three. He did not have to participate in the elimination round so will be advancing to the Top 19. The series will continue to eliminate one contestant per challenge.
Luciano said he has connected and learned from each of the judges, even though the show does not require them to be mentors to the contestants. According to him, Ramsay is not the cutthroat cook everyone personifies him as, rather a judge with high hopes and expectations, Tosi as a guide for him and baking pastries and Sanchez as a mentor who relates to him on a regular level. From the challenge, Luciano was familiarized with the intensity of the show and had the opportunity to continue to learn from his experiences and the judges alike.
Tune into MasterChef airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX.