Hindu vegetarian chef Hetal Vasavada in her last episode of “Master Chef,” which aired Aug. 22. The Indian American chef won four challenges during her stint on the show. (Greg Gayne/FOX photo)
By Sonia Waraich
SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — After a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, Hindu vegetarian chef Hetal Vasavada’s time on “Master Chef” has come to an end, just shy of making the top five.
This week’s team challenge — taking over a Japanese fusion restaurant — turned out to be too much for the Indian American chef, who struggled with team challenges in the past.
After starting off slow with the appetizers, the blue team, comprised of Vasavada and Katrina Kozar with Derrick Peltz as team leader, impressed the diners with their food despite the chaos in the kitchen.
Yet the red team, made up of Claudia Sandoval and Nick Nappi with Stephen Lee as team leader, also put out an exceptional dinner service and won the challenge, throwing Vasavada, Kozar and Peltz into the pressure test.
For the elimination challenge, the three chefs had to prepare the three judges’ favorite pasta dishes — Christina Tosi’s manicotti with spinach ricotta filling and tomato sauce, Graham Elliot’s squid ink striped farfalle, and Gordon’s egg yolk ravioli in brown sage butter sauce — which also happened to be three highly technical dishes, in just one hour.
All three chefs had a difficult time with the challenge with all of them poorly executing at least one component of the dishes.
Unfortunately for Vasavada, the other contestants fared slightly better, ending her career in the “Master Chef” kitchen, but not before Chef Ramsey declared her his “favorite vegetarian.”
During her time on “Master Chef,” Vasavada was consistently a front-runner, winning four challenges.
Her first win, despite being a vegetarian, was for her beef wellington in Episode 8, with her next win in Episode 10 for her peanut butter and jam cookies served two ways.
She was also a winner in Episode 12’s team challenge with its Italian menu — roasted lamb racks with baked ziti and caprese salad, and chocolate mousse pie for dessert — and in Episode 13 with her Indian-spiced fried chicken with a cornmeal waffle.
Three of her dishes made the top three — Episode 3’s coconut curry soup with red chili chutney and cilantro-mint-basil oil; Episode 10’s khichdi with peas, cauliflower and tomatoes; and Episode 15’s coffee chocolate cake with espresso whipped cream.
But there were also times when Vasavada faltered, such as with her Tandoori Salisbury steak and macaroni and cheese in Episode 7, and both times she was the team captain.
As leader of the blue team for the vegetarian challenge, preparing a chickpea-cauliflower curry with coconut rice and tomato gravy, Vasavada was unable to manage time and communicate well with her team members, who had never worked with the spices involved in the dish before.
She made it onto the show by beating out another contestant in a head-to-head apple dessert challenge.
This story originally appeared on India West.