LOS ANGELES — Durand native Liz Linn narrowly advanced Wednesday night during the first regular episode of this season’s “MasterChef” TV series.
Linn wound up among the bottom 10 contestants after an opening series of skills tests, but advanced to the next episode, at 8 p.m. Wednesday night, with a lamb chop dish.
She was then among the last five after a second challenge. Two of the bottom five contestants were eliminated from the competition, leaving 18 people to compete for the show’s grand prize: $250,000 and a place in the kitchens of the shows hosts.
Season 10 of Fox’s “MasterChef” premiered May 5, with 36 contestants competing for one of 20 spots on the show — among them Linn, who prepared Mediterranean red snapper as her signature dish, and she impressed judges Gordon Ramsay, Aarón Sánchez and Joe Bastianich enough that they awarded her a white apron, advancing her into the top 20 and giving her a spot in this season’s competition.
“Thousands of people tried out, and now I’m one of the top 20 cooks in America. It’s unreal. I think I’m in shock, I really think I am,” Linn said previously.
Linn, a self-proclaimed farm girl, grew up in Durand, where she often watched her Yugoslavian grandmother prepare native dishes in large quantities. Linn said it wasn’t until after graduating high school, though, that she really began to experience the variety of food the world has to offer.
“Right after graduation, I moved to Florida, and Florida is like a capital of food. There’s cuisine from all over the world there,” Linn said. “Growing up in Michigan, I was raised on steak and potatoes, and at the time, I didn’t really have access to Thai food or Indian food, food from other countries. I mean, you can find some of that stuff here in Michigan now, but you couldn’t back then.”
A 35-year career in the hospitality industry allowed Linn to travel the world, to places like Dubai, Luxembourg and London. Linn said the travel is what really turned her on to food.
Wednesday night, Ramsay gave the home chefs a demonstration on how to properly prep a variety of foods. The amateurs then had to duplicate his efforts in order to save themselves from a “mystery box” elimination test.
Among the skills they had to duplicate were fileting a fish, separating eggs and dicing onions. Ten contestants were safe.
In the elimination round, the 10 contestants whose skills were deemed unsatisfactory were presented a pork chop, a lamb chop and scallops and asked to prepare one dish from the three that represented Ramsey.
Linn chose the lamb, which the judges said was cooked properly. However, she added caramelized potatoes, which the judge said threw off the dish completely.
The three judges, though, eliminated a home cook who failed to present his meal with finesse, and a contestant who offered both a salad and mashed potatoes, which the judges disliked.