‘MasterChef’: ‘Firecracker’ Annai Gonzalez eliminated after epic cheesecake disaster

At the end of the June 30 episode of “MasterChef: Legends,” Annai Gonzalez learned the hard way that it’s never a good idea to leave the base of your cheesecake bowl on your dish. When Gordon Ramsay called her out on the apparent disaster, Annai explained how she kept the metal base because her avocado no-bake cheesecake with dragon fruit cream and mango sauce didn’t “set” properly. Special guest judge Sherry Yard then remarked how it looked “more like a dip than a cake,” which perhaps sealed Annai’s fate in the competition.

“Annai, you came in like this firecracker that really lit us up,” Gordon said just before he eliminated her from Season 11. “I’m hoping that you’ll pick up everything that you’ve taken from this incredible kitchen and go forth.” As for the other judges, Aaron Sanchez said he appreciated the “reasoning” behind her Mexican-style dessert, while Joe Bastianich noted his “disappointment” that she didn’t properly cook or bake anything.

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The 25-year-old legal assistant from Dallas, Texas took her elimination in stride. “It was a wonderful experience. It was wonderful getting feedback from the legends,” she told the group of judges.

Sherry tried to lift Annai’s spirits a bit before she exited the kitchen. “I see such talent and opportunity with everything that you did and your experiences,” she smiled. “Learning from these mistakes, you’re gonna do it and you’re gonna be great.”

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Annai’s dish wasn’t the only one who failed to impress the judges during dessert week. Abe Konick (he cooked a pomegranate tart with pistachio brittle and Italian meringue) and Matt Gagnon (his dish was a black garlic chocolate cake with spiced ganache, whipped cream and ginger raspberry coulis) also appeared in the bottom three, though they were spared from elimination.

At the other end of the spectrum, the four top dishes were as follows: Tay Westberry‘s pineapple upside-down cake with cherry compote and lemon zest whipped cream, Lexy Rogers‘ molten lava cake with macerated berries and white chocolate drizzle, Anne Hicks‘ olive oil rosemary cake with blueberry compote and whipped crème fraîche and Michael Newman‘s cannoli cake with chocolate espresso ganache and toasted pine nuts. Tay was named the winner of the challenge.

Backstage, Annai gave her final words during her exit interview: “It’s a win to have made it this far. I am definitely gonna keep cooking. I’m just so very blessed to use this as a learning experience and I plan to take it to propel me into further and greater things in life.”

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