The top 18 cooks take their place in the "MasterChef" kitchen. Head judge Gordon Ramsay greets them. "This place will make or break you," he says. "And for one of you, it's where you'll graduate from a home cook to become a 'MasterChef.' " The winner will also walk away with $250,000.
Judge Graham Elliot announces that they are going to test the contestants' creativity with the first Mystery Box challenge. The cooks must prepare a stunning dish using only the ingredients hidden inside the wooden crate. The judges will select the top three dishes based on presentation, and the person with the best-tasting dish of the trio will get an advantage in the Elimination Challenge.
The contestants open their Mystery Boxes to reveal salmon, strawberries, fennel, white asparagus, ricotta cheese, potatoes, pistachios, balsamic vinegar, fresh dill, and puff pastry. They now have 60 minutes to make a dish that will impress the judges, who move from station to station, inspecting the contestants as they cook. Angel tells Gordon that she's creating salmon patties with a mustard ricotta sauce, which appears to shock him.
Suzy explains to judges Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich that she's making a trio of salmon preparations. Max overhears her telling the judges that she has many techniques that she wants to show them, but he's not impressed by the high opinion she has of herself.