Meet the FOX MasterChef Finalists

By USDR. Exclusive for USDR, Provided by the Fox Network 

The international phenomenon and FOX culinary competition series MasterChef gives everyday people the chance to live their dreams and express their passion for food and cooking. Each week on MasterChef, at-home chefs with no formal training, compete in various individual and team-based culinary challenges for the chance to win $250,000 dollars.  The contestants are judged and mentored by world-renowned chefs Gordon Ramsay; Graham Elliot, the youngest four-star chef in America, restaurateur, and wine maker Joe Bastianich.

This is an ongoing series, check often to see new profiles.

The competition has entered the final rounds, and US Daily Review has asked the Top Eight contestants to offer their insight on what it is like to be on the show, what motivates them as amateur chefs, and how MasterChef has changed their lives.  Each week there will be a new post featuring the exclusive interviews.  Tune into MasterChef on Wednesdays at 8/7 Central on Fox or check out www.fox.com/masterchef.
Jessie Lysiak
1. How would you describe your experience on MasterChef? 
It was the worst best experience of my life- meaning that it was by far the hardest thing I have ever had to go through to ultimately become a better cook and a stronger person. The stress, the living situation with so many ” personalities,” and the loneliness severely got to me. It felt like I was taken away from my loved ones for years even though it was only months of no communication. MasterChef was not only a cooking competition but a mental and physical competition as well. I learned so much about time management during the long hours of challenges to the matter of seconds to menu plan after seeing a mystery box. I feel like I could handle anything that is thrown at me now.  I became a much stronger cook by learning new techniques and using utensils I had never seen before, in addition to new flavor combinations and ingredients.
2. Why did you decide to try out for the show?
Ultimately I tried out for MasterChef because I needed to see if I truly had what it takes to become a chef and make a career out of cooking. I thought if by some chance that I could even get on the show then it was a sign that the culinary field was the direction I was meant to be going in. I hoped that it would also create job opportunities that I couldn’t get on my own due to the fact that I had never cooked in a restaurant before. It’s hard to get hired when you don’t have experience.3. What is it like to cook under pressure from Celebrity Chefs Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich?
SCARY! The whole time I would be cooking I could not help but think  “wow, they have had the best of everything (food, presentation, technique), why am I even cooking for them, it must be a joke compared to what they eat on a regular basis.” Once you finally get a complement from one of these celebrity chefs then all those thoughts quiet down and it drives you to get their approval on the next challenge.4. What cooking challenge were your most proud?

The Mystery Box challenge where you recreate your signature dish.  During the last few seconds remaining in the challenge I stand back and look at my finished product. I couldn’t believe both dishes were made by the same person! Before me stood a beautiful plate that represented months of hard work and everything I had learned during MC. It was my biggest feeling of accomplishment and self improvement.
5. What will you take from your experiences on the show to your future endeavors?
It’s not necessarily the cooking techniques I learned while there but what I earned about myself in team settings/challenges. I had never been a captain of anything before or put in a major leadership role before coming on MasterChef. Trust me I wasn’t even sure I wanted that responsibility at the time either!! I really underestimated myself before and MasterChef pulled the leadership qualities out of me.
Krissi Biasiello

1. How would you describe your experience on MasterChef? 
I can only describe it as an eye opening experience as a whole.  I’ve never been far from Philly, never even was on a plane.  The furthest west I had ever been was Penn State University.  I had never been away from my child for more than a day or two.  LA was like another world for me.  Being thrown together with people who were not like me at ALL was tough also.  I had never been outside of my comfort zone, especially in the culinary world.  Sure I experiment here and there, but for the most I perfect my Italian, Italian-American and comfort foods.  I cannot put into words how much knowledge I gained in the kitchen.  I learned about ingredients I had never even heard of before and how to put more finesse on a plate.  All in all, it was a huge life lesson, in and out of the kitchen.2. Why did you decide to try out for the show?
I had absolutely no intentions on trying out.  I could never leave my kid, who would pay the bills, who would take care of the dogs?  Ever since Season 1, my son has BEGGED me to try out.  One day in November, a week before the tryouts in NYC, my son posted the info on my Facebook wall.  All of a sudden everyone started comments and telling me DO IT, DO IT!!  So I said “what the hell, let’s do this thing” with the intention I would never make it past the first audition.  Lo and behold, here I am today.  Absolutely unreal.3. What is it like to cook under pressure from Celebrity Chefs Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich?
I feared Gordon because well, he’s nuts (haha), knew I had to impress Graham because he’s so finicky with plating, but my biggest pressure was Joe.  His mother is my culinary idol.  The Bastianich family to me is the equivalent of the Royal family to Brits.  I wanted nothing more than to impress him and show him my Italian and Italian-American skills.  Watching us butt heads on tv, I see now that he only expected more of me and I let him down, and instead of taking it like I should have, I stomped my feet and argued like a 2 year old.  I wish I wouldnt have been so hard headed at the time.

4. What cooking challenge were your most proud?
So far, my most proud dish was in the Sausage Mystery Box challenge.  I knew I nailed that Italian sausage because I know it probably better than anyone in that room.  I wanted to bring the comfort of one of Philly’s most beloved dishes, sausage and peppers, to another level.  I knew my sausage was going to be on point, so my goal was to get those peppers tender and that broth amazing. Paired over my grandmother’s recipe for polenta?  STOOOOPPPPP.  It was ridiculous and definitely the dish I am most proud of at this point.

5. What will you take from your experiences on the show to your future endeavors?
Like I said, I definitely learned some life lessons.  There is a great big world outside of Philly and I know it now.  I’ve learned how to be more articulate with food, less homey, but still while maintaining my roots.  I’ve learned how to be more diplomatic and forgiving and how to control my temper.  I’ve made friends from all walks of life on MasterChef, I’m going to be travelling more to see some of them and try new foods, experiment more.  I am very excited for what’s in store for me.  And even if I never get a penny richer than I am now, I am rich in something so much more powerful.

1. How would you describe your experience on MasterChef?
-Fantastic and life changing. I had so much fun during the show and I learned so much. It all gave me a different perspective of my I can do in my future
2. Why did you decide to try out for the show?
-I was watching Season 2 at home and thinking it was something I could do. Plus I always loved the idea of being on TV.
3. What is it like to cook under pressure from Celebrity Chefs Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich?
-At the beginning it was very intimidating. I had to learn how to keep cooking while talking to them and work around their tricky questions without saying anything stupid. After a while, I got used to it and it was like talking to my boss at work.
4. What cooking challenge were your most proud – where you came through and were most glad about the outcome?
-For sure the mystery box chellenge I won. Nobody would have thought I was going to be so comfortable around Asian flavors and be able to pull out the winning dish was priceless.
5.What will you take from your experiences on the show to your future endeavors?
Always believe in yourself. You need to walk in front of the judges knowing that you can win the title.  Never be cocky though, be humble and ready to learn a lot. Study a lot, buy new cookbooks and practice as much as you can.
1 How would you describe your experience on MasterChef?
– I am so SO grateful for my time on MC. It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
2. Why did you decide to try out for the show?
– My boyfriend’s mom and sister thought I looked like Monti’s (@MC3Monti) twin! So they wanted me to audition and sent me the paperwork. At first I just sent in the application to make them happy but then I actually watched the show and thought, hm, I could actually do this…and it’s all history!
3. What is it like to cook under pressure from Celebrity Chefs Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich?
-These guys are amazing. They are three of the greatest mentor’s ive ever had in my life. I learned more about food after spending a minute with them than I did in 22 years of my life.
4. What cooking challenge were your most proud?
– The wild mushrooms! It was the first time I was able to make a COMPLETELY vegetarian dish and I was so excited to show the judges what I was really all about.
5. What will you take from your experiences on the show to your future endeavors?
– MasterChef has taught me everything I know about food and working in a kitchen. I wouldn’t have a job right now if it weren’t for what I learned during my time on MC! I now trulyunderstand the importance of time management, teamwork in the kitchen, and thinking on your feet…I am forever ready for anything thrown my way.
1. Tell us about your experience being on the show.Honestly being on Masterchef was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have so many great experiences in my day especially with playing professional football. I would definitely put competing on Masterchef right there at the top!

2. What made you decide to pursue it? Initially a good friend entered me  into Masterchef. But once i realized that i was actually chosen to be apart of the show i decided that i was going to compete to the best of my ability to see where i matched up against the best home cooks in the country.
3.How did you deal with the pressure? I never really felt any pressure while i was cooking for the judges. I guess I’ve been battle tested so many times in my life that I’ve learned how to cope with pressure situations. I think more than anything i put more pressure on myself while i was there than anything
4. What has been the most rewarding part of participating? I believe winning the wedding team challenge was the most rewarding for me. The stakes were so high during that challenge. Not only were we cooking for someones wedding but we had to prepare a stunning meal in between Grahams appetizer and Gordan’s dessert. Doesn’t get any tougher than that.
5. What lessons will you take away from the experience? I think more than anything  it validated that im a damn good cook. I mean i competed against the best home cooks in the country and did extremely well. Being on the show made me more eager to explore the world of food and all that it has to offer.
1) Tell us about your experience being on the show. It was an amazing experience. Just to be able to learn from Gordon, Joe and Graham was worth it!

2) What made you decide to pursue it? My then fiancé, now wife, pushed me to do it. I was particularly inspired by Christine Ha winning from last year.
3) How did you deal with the pressure? It’s intense, to say the least. They’re expecting perfection and man is that stressful.
4) What has been the most rewarding part of participating? I was very proud of the crab/elimination challenge and the firefighter/steak challenge. Those ingredients really hit home for me.
5) What lessons will you take away from the experience? I’m taking that dedication to perfection that Ramsay is known for and applying to all my business endeavors. It works for him, maybe it’ll work for me too!
All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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