The seven remaining home cooks enter the MasterChef kitchen to find the biggest Mystery Box in the show's history. Judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich reveal the contents of a larger-than-life container. The contestants are delighted to find a very special guest inside the wooden crate, the Pride of Savannah, Paula Dean.
The competitors discover that Paula has handpicked the ingredients in the Mystery Boxes just for them. They lift them up to find all they will need to "strut their stuff, Southern style": a whole chicken, green tomatoes, collard greens, grits, blackberries, hot sauce, pepper jelly, bacon, and cream cheese.
Before they begin, Paula asks each home cook to open their workspace drawers. There they each find a photo and letter from a relative, which reduces most of the competitors to tears. Chef Ramsay then tells them that they have 60 minutes to create something magical. The winner will have a huge advantage in the next challenge.
Frank decides to think outside the box and use the Southern ingredients to kick up his dish a notch. Monti decides to make a blackberry dessert in honor of her son, Danger, while Becky decides to do a more traditional dish, including one of Paula's favorites, fried okra.
As the challenge ends, the cooks put the finishing touches on their presentations. Having carefully tasted everything throughout the challenge, the judges take one final look to identify three standout dishes.
The first challenger to make the top three is Becky. She serves her oven-roasted chicken with fried green tomatoes, biscuits, and gravy. Paula loves the sweet and savory mix of the flavors. Graham says that Becky has done them proud in front of their special guest.
The second home cook in the winner's circle is Frank. His risky move to make a nontraditional chicken roulade with pepper chutney and spicy potatoes paid off. Although the judges take notice, Paula is a bit caught off-guard by the extra kick of cayenne that he added on top of the pepper jelly.
David's pan-roasted chicken with red pepper grits and shoestring onions earns him in a spot at the top for the first time. Much to Paula's chagrin, Chef Ramsay tells him that he's done a "bloody good job" giving flavor to usually bland grits.
After the judges deliberate, Frank wins his first Mystery Box Challenge. In the MasterChef Pantry, he learns that the Elimination Challenge will be all about the aesthetics, techniques, and skills it takes to put a sushi platter on the table. He also hears the good news: his advantage is that he has immunity in this challenge.
Back in the kitchen, the judges show the competitors a Japanese sushi platter and assign their task: they must create a perfect replica of what they see. The presentation consists of crisp vegetable tempura, a California roll, plus two salmon, two yellowtail, two tuna, and two shrimp sushi.
This will be MasterChef's first Tag Team Challenge. The cooks will be split into teams of two that Frank handpicks. When the challenge is complete, the duo that prepares the worst platter will be up for elimination, and one member will be asked to leave the MasterChef kitchen.
Frank has paired his biggest competition, Becky, with David, whom he considers to be a disaster. He puts Monti and Felix on a team, knowing that they often butt heads. Christine and Stacey are the final duo.
There is one last twist: the contestants will make a single dish but will not be working together at the same time. Instead, they will rotate out whenever the judges yell, "Switch!"
With 60 minutes on the clock, David, Christine, and Monti start cooking. Christine begins by working on the rice. An inexperienced Monti is relying on Felix to get them through the challenge.
At the first switch, Becky disagrees with the advice that David tries to impart and redoes some of his work. In contrast, Monti calls her partner, Felix, a warrior in the challenge. A visibly flustered Stacey uses her time to slice the fish.
When the cooks tag out again, Christine returns to season and cool the rice. David is admittedly frazzled, but Felix remains in control, guiding Monti through the tasks at hand.
On the final switch, all the teams have yet to start their California rolls. The judges notice that Stacey is flummoxed and that David is driving his team's bus - but it might go off a cliff. Only Felix seems to really have things under control. When time runs out, Stacey fails to finish the California roll.
Felix and Monti are the first to present their plate. Joe says that Felix's California roll is delicious. Graham also compliments the tempura that Monti prepared. Chef Ramsay is impressed that they managed to stay composed and handle the pressure of the challenge.
David and Becky are up next. David asks her not to throw him under the bus, but Becky quickly points out that he cut the poorly sliced salmon. Joe chastises Becky for ducking her head when she should have been leading the charge.
Last up, Stacey and Christine bring their plate forward. The judges determine that the two have stumbled on a number of fronts. They are missing a main component, the California roll, and their tempura vegetables do not have batter on them. Christine's rice tastes fine, but Stacey's cut on the fish is unacceptable.
Felix and Monti are declared the winners, while Stacey and Christine are the losing team. After a brief discussion, the judges ask Stacey to turn in her MasterChef apron.