The Magnolia State is known for culturally rich dishes with bold award-winning flavors and all of the celebrity chef judges seemed to agree when Kendal Adair advanced in the “MasterChef: United Tastes of America” competition.
It was clear the South was in the house when this Olive Branch pitmaster and chef secured a MasterChef apron on June 14. He and four other southern chefs now move on to represent the South and battle it out against 15 other contestants from the Northeast, Midwest, and West.
The 27-year-old is no stranger to cooking competitions and has more than 200 food battles under his belt. His specialty is barbecue, and he even has a couple of championship rings to prove it.
“I started competition cooking all across the United States when I was 15,” he said
Adair wowed celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay, Aarón Sánchez, Tiffany Derry, and Joe Bastianich with a perfectly cooked filet mignon, delicate crawfish cream sauce, and velvety mashed potatoes.
Bastianich questioned Adair about the cooking temperature of the steak to which Adair replied it was a perfect medium rare. Bastianich said Adair’s statement was bold and completely on point when he cut into the steak. Bastianich added Adair cooked the steak he presented better than anyone in the 13-year history of the show.
He did get nods from all four judges to move forward to the next round but was told to step up his plating. He was slightly criticized for a lack of visual finesse and flair that’s required for this type of competition.
Before the judging, Ramsay and Derry visited Adair’s cooking station and Ramsay was excited to inspect Adair’s championship BBQ ring that was laid on a nearby cutting board. The celebrity chef accidentally dropped the ring into the grill fire and fished it out with tongs, only to then drop it again in the crawfish cream sauce Adair was stirring. Ramsay also nearly knocked over a bottle of olive oil with Derry laughing and telling him to back away from Adair’s kitchen station.
Adair said the MasterChef battle was a much different experience than the cook-offs he’s used to competing in.
“The biggest difference in my opinion is you only have 45 minutes,” Adair said. “You have 24 hours in what I’m used to doing, so there’s a little difference in the time frame.”
The home chefs will now face a multitude of cooking trials, including a State Fair challenge, a series of iconic Mystery Box tasks, cooking a meal at Dodger Stadium, and the fan-favorite Tag Team event, where they must create a Michelin-star quality three-course meal. The show airs at 7 p.m. central time on Wednesdays on your local FOX affiliate.
Only one home cook will win it all and take home the cash prize of $250,000 and the title of America’s MasterChef and it looks like this Mississippi BBQ King from Olive Branch showed up to compete, and quite possibly win it all.