Tag Archives: Esther

Burning Man 2012: The Pilgrimage

If you’ve been following me since my season of MasterChef aired last summer, you know how fanatical I am about the Burning Man festival.  Trying to describe this event is practically impossible.  Each summer 60,000 people from all over the world assemble on a dry desert lake bed in northern Nevada and build a city dedicated to “radical self expression.”  For the week that this city exists, it is filled with incredible art, dazzling performances, and workshops on everything from solar power to shamanic healing to community development.  Money is not allowed in this city.  Everything is free.  And the experience perpetuates itself through a “culture of gifting,” where you are expected to contribute to the city in whatever way you can.  If you’re a penniless artist, the city will offer you an art grant, and your contribution is a work of art.  If you’re a massage therapist, you’re expected to gift random massages to tired-looking people on the street, or to set up a massage booth several hours a day.  If you’re a wealthy dot-com magnate, you bring a massive dance club and bar, or a restaurant, or you sponsor tickets for those who can’t afford them.

This was my fourth year at Burning Man, and I can’t really imagine my life without it.  Immersing yourself in a city that completely rejects our societal norms…gender roles…decorum and formality and pomp and circumstance…is incredibly refreshing.  At Burning Man, you are expected to be completely and utterly yourself.  No one is going to criticize you for looking and acting however you want.  Burning Man is a place of supreme acceptance, peace, and joy.

But it’s no easy task getting there.  I left for Burning Man 6 days before its gates opened.  2 days before that, though, I was cooking up a storm.  I smoked 2 pork shoulders.  I turned 2 briskets into beef jerky.  And I made GALLONS of hummus and babaganouj (smoked eggplant and sesame dip).  I froze everything, put it into 2 coffin-sized coolers along with all my gear for a month, and headed west.

I made a small detour to visit my parents, way out in Snyder, Texas.  Since MasterChef, I don’t get to visit them as often as I used to because my schedule is so busy.  Mom made a delicious breakfast of farm eggs, blueberry pancakes, and fresh raw goat milk.  Delicious!

All too soon, back to the road.  I wanted to make Tucson that night, so I could arrive in Phoenix for lunch with the incomparable Monti Carlo, so that I could arrive in Apple Valley, CA in time for dinner with Stacey.  By the time I arrived at Monti’s house, though, she was in tears, frantically cooking.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

“My watch party is tonight and all these people are coming…”

But I could tell that wasn’t what was bothering her.  I gave her that “tell me what’s REALLY wrong” look.

“Tonight’s my night to go.”

I felt like such a terrible friend at that moment.  Here I am, rushing to get to Stacey’s house, and tonight is a really big, scary night for Monti.  The night she gets eliminated from MasterChef.

“I have to stay, then,” I said.

“Are you crazy, dude?!?  Stacey’s husband just went deep sea fishing and has pounds and pounds of tuna for you guys to eat.  You have to go.  I’ll be fine.”

We chatted about Burning Man for a bit and I convinced her that she HAD to come next year.  We’re gonna have a MasterChef camp with a full kitchen and have mystery box challenges, and feed the good people of Burning Man INCREDIBLE food.  That cheered her up a bit, but I still felt like a dirtbag when I drove off.

It’s about 6 hours from Monti’s house to Stacey’s house, through the barren Mojave Desert.  Stacey lives (…or, rather, lived) in Apple Valley, California.  A tiny village (by California standards) that most people have never heard of.  But *I* know it well, as it’s the closest town to the Deep Creek hot springs…an extraordinary set of wilderness hot springs in a wild canyon, only a few short hours from Los Angeles.  I’ve soaked there so often, it’s entirely possible that I been there at the same time Stacey was there…even a decade ago, when she was still in high school.  She and her friends frequented the hot springs back then, which is when I was soaking there most frequently.  How crazy is that?!?

Stacey lives (er…lived) at the end of a long dirt road, smack dab up against a big granite mountain, in one of the coolest houses I’ve ever seen.  Small, cozy, eclectic, absolutely FILLED with fresh produce.  Stacey manages a farmer’s market, so she’s always bringing home gifts from the farmers.  Her decorations are literally almost entirely edible.  Lemons and avocados were stuffed in every available corner of every room, even the bathroom.

And then, of course, there was Stacey.  Her personality on the show was so big and bold, that I was completely taken aback by how tiny she is.  She must weigh 80 pounds soaking wet.  But one of the brightest and most joyful souls I’ve ever met.  The first thing she did was shove a bowl of poke into my arms.  THEN she hugged me.  (Poke is pronounced “PO-kay” and it’s a Hawaiian specialty of raw fish marinated with soy and citrus, mixed with a variety of ingredients like onion, seaweed, sesame seeds, etc.  It’s one of my favorite things in all the world.)

Her fridge and several coolers were overflowing with fresh tuna and other fish that her hubby Mike and his buddies had caught.  And Stacey pulled out the stops and created a menu based entirely around raw fish.  Take a look:

The party was going in full force out in her backyard, which is easily the coolest entertaining space I’ve seen.  Funky, hippy, Bohemian, southwestern shabby chic.  I felt right at home.

Stacey and Mike love to entertain, and I enjoyed reading her “Party Rules” board:

She has a pond where rosemary (a desert plant) and ginger (a tropical plant) are growing side-by-side.  Over in the corner is her extensive container garden:

Stacey lives next door to her parents, who are delightful people.  Their backyard is also incredible, with a huge waterfall, and an outdoor kitchen to rival anything I’ve ever seen.   Stacey is Italian, so her family obviously has to have a pizza oven, and this one puts my little homemade oven to shame:

After a tour, we were back in the kitchen cooking and eating.  One of Stacey’s favorite things to make is sushi.  (Ironic, because she was eliminated from MasterChef after a sushi challenge.)  Her spicy tuna rolls were absolutely divine.

We literally gorged on raw fish.  MasterChef was playing in the background, but I wanted to watch Monti’s farewell episode in private rather than a party setting, so I ignored it.  We talked long into the night about how MasterChef had changed our lives.  Stacey and I felt like we’d known each other all our lives…I felt so connected to her so quickly.  She and Mike are definitely my kinda people.  Eventually I drifted off to sleep on her couch, and I awoke the next morning to this:

If that’s not being pampered, I don’t what what is!  It’s a plate of cheeses, fruit, and nuts, and on the side is a serving of poke, underneath of which is a shot of smoked tomato water.  !!!  Lucky me!

It was a busy morning.  Stacey was canning her homemade barbeque sauce, which I was lucky enough to taste (and then get a pint of!).  Stacey puts even more ingredients in her sauce than I do.  Her base is smoked tomatoes, which is totally genius.  And one of her many “secret” spices is fenugreek.  Her sauce is EASILY the most complex and delicious I’ve ever tasted.

In addition to BBQ sauce, there was a whole yellowtail left from the night before, and it had to be dealt with.  Stacey stuffed it full of lemons from her grandmother’s tree and herbs from her garden, filled the body cavity with aromatics, and Mike smoked it out back.  While it was smoking, though, Stacey had plans.

“See that mountain behind the house?  Let’s climb it!”

I strapped on my hiking boots and she and I headed for the hills.  20 minutes later (it seemed MUCH longer), we topped out about 800 feet above her house on the pinnacle of the granite crag.  I had been driving for 2 days, and it felt so good to use by body for a change.  But by the time we got back down, we were sweating like crazy, so we plunged into her parents’ saltwater pool and talked about her impending move to the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where she’s going to start a restaurant and sell her BBQ sauce and several other artisan items in the farmers’ market.  She was sad to leave this incredible place that she and Mike have truly made their own.  But excited to be moving to a place exploding with life and abundance, where life moves at a slower pace, and where food and the land are considered sacred.

I was sad to leave Stacey’s house.  We spent barely 20 hours together, but I had grown incredibly fond of her and Mike both.  There are some people you meet in this world who share the same soul…the same ideals.  I am so excited to visit Stacey in Kauai (where she already is!) and see how she’s putting down her new Hawaiian roots!  Follow Stacey’s adventure here.

Then I drove into Los Angeles to meet…FELIX!  I don’t think ANY contestant this year on MasterChef was more intriguing to be from the start.  I absolutely adored Felix.  I don’t think they featured her enough, and I don’t think she was eliminated fairly.  From talking to my friends from this season, they all just raved about Felix and what a unique person she is.

Moments after arriving at her West Hollywood apartment, she had a katana at my throat.  *giggle*

Felix is a fascinating girl.  Hysterically funny with one of the most expressive faces I’ve ever seen.  She’s sexy and brassy and bold, but at the same time, shy and quiet and diminutive.  Felix has been working as a food runner at one of LA’s most famous fine-dining restaurants for awhile, and has just been promoted to a server, which means the potential for a BIG increase in pay.  So I’m really happy for her.  Of course, she wants to be in the kitchen, and with her determination, she’ll be there in no time.  But she’s such a people person, like me, I’m not sure being cooped up in a commercial kitchen is for her.  Maybe she should be doing underground dinners, like Jennie Kelley and I are with FRANK, where she can interact with the people she’s cooking for…

Felix and Tanya and I met up with my sweet little Peanut (Esther, from my season) and had dinner in Korea Town.  Tanya has been living in LA, staging (the culinary equivalent of interning) at restaurants and has now gotten a paid job at a bakery.  Tanya, like David Martinez and Michael Chen, plunged head-first into the culinary world after MasterChef ended, and is serious about turning her passion for food into her career.  I’m so proud of her!

It was fun having this little cross-season dinner.  Esther hasn’t had time to watch the current season, so she had no idea who Tanya and Felix were.  But they shared the same intense experience that Esther and I did, and Tanya and Felix are very close, like Esther and I are.

After dinner, I got to meet Felix’s adorable boyfriend.  They’ve known each other for years, since they both lived in Puna…the southeastern district of the Big Island of Hawaii, which is where I’m trying to move to start my farm.  They are an adorable couple.  But all too early, I had to leave for San Diego, because the clock was ticking, and I still had to cook a week’s worth of food for 30 people before Burning Man.

In San Diego I met up with my dearest friends Nate and Sandy.  I’ve known them for 17 years, since college.  They just gave birth to their first child scarcely a month before I arrived, and for some reason they decided to play host to our “base camp” for Burning Man this year…as if they didn’t have their hands full with baby!  Normally they go to Burning Man with us, but certainly not this year.  Though it was a bit of torture for them, watching us all get ready for the event, knowing they weren’t going.

My dear friend Raspberry, who I’ve known for more than a decade, and my best buddy Monty (my old college roomie) arrived in town from the Pacific Northwest, and the first order of business upon arrival was hair dyeing.  At Burning Man, if you look “normal,” you’re probably not expressing yourself radically.  So for the past 3 years, I’ve dyed my hair some crazy color, and Raspberry decided to join me this year.  (Raspberry isn’t his real name, but we call each other Raspberry because of a random connection to Carol Channing’s character in the film Thoroughly Modern Millie…long story.)  So we started the laborious transformation which first requires bleaching your hair until it’s almost white.


After that, it’s 2 hours of heating the shocking color into your bleached hair, followed by careful washing, followed by an apple cider vinegar soak to raise the pH and seal in the color.  And you end up with this:

Early the next morning, it was grocery shopping time.  Buying enough food, beer, snacks, and camping supplies for 30 people for a week is no small matter.  This was the bill at the FIRST stop:

And that was just the first.  I spent well over $2,000 that morning.  Then we went to the extraordinary home belonging to my friends Mark and Elaine to start cooking.  We had to make Pad Thai, sesame noodles, chicken salad, chicken with saffron rice,  pasta salad, braised cabbage, beans…and then freeze it all with dry ice.  Thankfully, Elaine and Raspberry are both superb cooks, so we made short time of it.  Mark and Elaine’s kids even got involved.

Mark and Elaine are my kinda folks.  They grow much of their own food, they have an AMAZING chicken coop filled with layers, and their kids have incredibly broad palates.  (They were scarfing down my vinegary braised cabbage like it was candy.)  When we were finished, I was able to introduce the kids to the wonders of dry ice…I remember being so mesmerized by it when I was a kid.

With food cooked and frozen solid and our massive infrastructure loaded into the 22′ truck, we headed north to Reno, stopping along the way to pick up my new friend Denis.  I met Denis on my last trip out west, 3 months ago, at a hot spring just south of Yellowstone.  (Blog coming soon.)  He’s one of the more fascinating people I’ve met.  He started college when he was 16, in a quadruple major program: Mathematics, Economics, Russian, and Ceramic Arts.  (???)  After 4 years of intense study, he needed a break, so he had spent the past year working in California’s Youth Conservation Corps, building trails and fighting fires in the wilderness.  Denis is the biggest social butterfly I’ve ever met, so when he decided to come to Burning Man with us, I knew it was going to be an amazing experience for him.  Especially since he would turn 21 during the event!

Sunday morning we rendezvoused with a large contingent from our camp for breakfast at Peg’s Glorified Ham and Eggs, my favorite eatery in Reno.  Promise me that you will NEVER visit Reno without eating there.  They have 3 locations around this VERY small town, and each of them are jam packed every day of the week.  Peg’s is legendary for huge portions…in fact they serve most of their entrees inside a massive skillet.  Denis is legendary for packing away food, so he ordered the full 1-pound ham steak, 3 eggs, hash browns, cabbage slaw, fried bananas, and a thick slice of cantaloupe.  3 minutes after it arrived, it was gone:

And that wasn’t all.  I could only stuff HALF my tamale skillet into my stomach, so Denis finished mine.  And then Raspberry needed help with his plate.  Denis basically polished off about 8 pounds of food for breakfast…a good thing because as much as he was about to bounce around Burning Man, missing half the meals in camp, he’d need all the calories he could get!

After breakfast, a few hours to gather last-minute supplies, and then it was off to Burning Man…about a 2 hour drive northeast of Reno in the high desert.  The route passes Pyramid Lake, a massive inland sea named for a natural rock formation near the shore.  This is the home of the Pyramid Lake tribe, who have lived in this desert for centuries.

Your eyes are weary, and my fingers are sore.  And we have YET to arrive at Burning Man.  So I’ll let you off the hook for now, and pick back up again tomorrow.  I have amazing stories and images and videos about Burning Man to share with you, and perhaps an even more amazing account of the long journey home afterward.  So why don’t you go ahead and subscribe to my blog in the upper right corner of this page, to make sure you don’t miss another post!

MasterChef: Celebrities and Cake

Did all that just REALLY happen? Watching it felt like a blur. These were easily the two most intense and personally trying challenges I experienced on MasterChef. I’ll try to condense them into words, but I’m not sure it will work.

Team leader. That’s nothing new to me. I’ve been president of this or that organization consistently since high school. But this time it’s different. This time I’m being observed by 3 of the most powerful culinary forces in this country. This time we’re cooking for Hollywood celebrities, who consistently eat at the world’s finest restaurants. And this time, my team has 90 minutes to cater a party for the Hollywood elite.

90 MINUTES? Please, Chef Ramsay, tell me exactly WHICH Hollywood catering chef is given 90 minutes’ notice to come up with a menu AND prepare 5 appetizer courses for a major Hollywood party. And when you find that chef who’s willing to do that, please just give ME the exorbitant sum you’d have to pay him or her, to get them to agree to cater that kind of a party at the last minute!

I knew I was going to be a team leader for a good 12 hours, and I had in mind the team I would assemble. But when I find out that we’re going to have to prepare tiny, sophisticated bites for a discriminating crowd…I throw out my preconceived list and go with my gut, based on the challenge.

Suzy first, because I’ve seen her produce dainty, tiny, perfect bites before. Tracy, because the level of sophistication she has presented thus far is WAY beyond my own ability. Esther, because she’s great with desserts and because she’s attended swanky Hollywood parties in her role as a talent attorney. Jenn, because she cooks right next to me in the MasterChef kitchen, and I’ve seen first-hand how precise and clever and inventive she is. And Christine, because she works flawlessly under pressure, and because I know she throws a mean party. I’d normally have NEVER waited to pick Christine last, but I was fairly confident Christian wouldn’t select her. So I take a risk and wait…and that risk paid off.

Now we walk into a Michelin-starred kitchen. Not just Michelin-starred. But Gordon Ramsay’s own kitchen. Everything we produce in this kitchen will leave with HIS name on it. That’s some ridiculous pressure for an amateur home chef. Actually, a ridiculously unfair amount of pressure. No professional chef in his right mind would EVER allow himself to be put in a position where he has only 90 minutes to conceive a menu AND prepare enough food to cater a party for the Hollywood elite. And now, Gordon Ramsay has decided to place HIS name on the line, letting a bunch of amateur cooks turn out cuisine for such a party from his kitchen.

I stand by my statement… GORDON RAMSAY HAS LOST HIS MIND.

My approach to leadership is to empower individuals to do something they’re passionate about. Instead of dictating the menu and assigning positions, I ask which members of my team are inspired by the list of ingredients and courses. And naturally, it falls into position. Each person finds inspiration in a different set of ingredients, and I tell them that I’m there for support. Whatever odd job they need done, I’ll do it.  Basically…”I’m your bitch.”

Ben Starr's Blue Team for the MasterChef Hollywood celebrity challenge

My All-Girl Team

We actually created 5 courses, though only 3 were featured in the aired version of the show.  Suzy made a delicious mint tomato gazpacho topped with edible flowers.  Tracy handled the cheese course with a savory truffled goat cheese bite that was TO DIE FOR.  Jenn followed up with a fruit course of watermelon lightly marinated in a zesty sriracha sauce, topped with creme fraiche.  It was one of the most unique and delicious things I tasted in my entire MasterChef experience.  Christine seems to perform spectacularly with meat, so I gave her the meat course and she turned out miniature Beef Wellingtons…a delicate round of puff pasty, gently seared tenderloin, sauteed mushrooms, and chive creme fraiche.

85 minutes later, 4 four of the 5 courses have been served. The only thing left is dessert. And Esther has turned out beautiful profiteroles (basically cream puffs), but Ramsay comes over and tastes her mocha filling, and says that it has “broken.” This means the cream has separated, kind of like curdled milk.

Honestly, I don’t see what he’s complaining about. They taste great to me. But he’s a true Master Chef. And we’re feeding people with VERY sophisticated palates. And he is literally freaking out over the filling for the profiteroles and says it’s unacceptable.

It’s time for Plan B.


I recall back to the cafeteria challenge, where simple berries triumphed over chocolate chip cookies. So all 6 of us begin slicing strawberries and kumquats, which are like a tiny orange the size of your thumb, sweet and tangy. To them we add some fresh sliced basil, some brown sugar, and a dollop of fresh cream.

Ramsay is horrified. “This is the WORST dish EVER created in MasterChef!” he says.

I’m not sure what he expected when he told us we our original dessert was unacceptable with only 5 minutes to go.

Esther is devastated and feels responsible for the failure. As team leader, though, I shoulder the responsibility and take the backup dessert to serve to Hollywood’s elite.

The reception is almost evenly split. It seems like half the people love the berries, and the other half love the Red Team’s elegant, sophisticated tartlet bites with raspberries and mint. We’ll have to wait to find the ultimate total.

Turns out, 53% of the celebrities preferred Team Red’s tartless, and 47% love our 5-minute berries. I can live with that.

However, it means that my team is going to the pressure test. And ultimately, that I failed as a team leader. The guilt is palpable. I feel awful.

I shouldn’t have second guessed myself on the decision about the profiteroles.  They looked magically beautiful.  Ramsay had to rub the filling between his fingers to prove to me that it had broken, and I guarantee you that NONE of the celebrities up on the roof would be opening the cream puffs, digging out the filling with their fingers, and rubbing it around.  Of COURSE not.  They’d have popped them into their mouths, screamed “DELICIOUS!” and voted for my team.  But in a moment of weakness, I buckled under the pressure of Ramsay’s rants, and I dragged my team to ultimate failure.

Many people on the internet are blaming Esther for my team’s downfall.  In fact, many people on the internet dislike Esther having watched how she is portrayed in the last few episodes.  Let me set the record straight about Esther Kang…  She is one of the kindest, funniest, most joyful people I have EVER met.  Her smile brightens the room when she arrives.  EVERY SINGLE MasterChef contestant adored and still adores Esther…I even have photos that might surprise people, like this one:

Esther and Max behind the scenes of MasterChef season 2

Esther and Max...AFTER this episode

And that’s from AFTER they were eliminated!!!

So let’s lay off of Esther.  She is adored by everyone that internet critics think she cheated.  Nobody harbors ANY bad feelings toward her.  She’s simply another competitor in this competition, virtually anyone would have made the exact same choices she made if they were put in her shoes.  (Which are very small, by the way.  She’s little!)

Esther is easily responsible for the funniest, brightest moments I experienced on MasterChef.

Now, where were we?  Ah, yes.  Pressure Test.  Due to my failure to stick up for my team against Ramsay, I’ve landed them all in a pressure test.  I’m going to be honest…I spent the night sleepless, wondering what to do.  Should I deliberately sabotage myself in the pressure test, so none of my girls gets sent home?  I seriously considered this for hours.  Then a little voice whispered…you have hundreds of dear friends and family, and millions of MasterChef fans who you would let down if you don’t perform to the best of your ability in every challenge.  It would have been unfair to everyone for me to throw the challenge.

The pressure test is a 6-layer cake. Pastry always strikes fear in the hearts of any chef. And I know that some of my team members are NOT comfortable baking. And I have dragged them into this challenge.  Ramsay says, “BenStarr, if you were given the chance to save two of your team members, who would you save?”  I immediately mention Tracy, because I know she’s uncomfortable baking.  And I ask openly, “Any one else terrified of baking?”  They all look at me with stoicism.  My girls are SO brave and have SUCH integrity.  No one wants to answer me.

Ramsay says, “Who was responsible for your successes last night?”

“Christine single handed won 100% of the votes for her course, so I’d have to mention her first.  So, then, Tracy and Christine.  I’ll have to save them.”

“Too bad!” Ramsay says, eyes gleaming, “You’re ALL going to the pressure test!”

It just so happens that, for the past 5 years, I have been perfecting a pumpkin carrot layer cake. Carrot cake is normally made in a single, dense, moist layer with cream cheese frosting. But I have devised a way to make it light and spongy, kinda like a wedding cake, with cream cheese frosting, and candied nuts. So it’s literally an effortless 2 hours for me, churning out this cake I’ve made a dozen times.

Ben Starr's Pumpkin Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Hazelnuts from MasterChef season 2

MY cake...my baby

30 minutes into the 2 hour challenge, my cakes are in the oven, my frosting and candied nuts are made, and all I can do is wait for the cakes to finish baking and cool before I decorate 10 minutes before the challenge is up.  That leaves me with almost an hour and a half to…do…what?  I clean up my station.  I eat an apple.  Ramsay wanders over to me and says, “BenStarr, look at your teammates.  They are running around in a panic, flour everywhere, and here you sit eating a f—ing apple.  How can you be so calm?  You scare me.”

And at the end of the 2 hours, I look down at my cake…a cake I’ve made so many times…and I feel the weight of conflicting emotions crashing down onto my shoulders simultaneously.

I feel joy that I’ve FINALLY produced something for the judges that is uniquely Ben Starr. I feel guilt, that I have competed against my team members in an “unfair” challenge, where I know exactly what I’m doing, and they’re in unfamiliar territory. And I feel sorrow, that someone is going to be eliminated, and if I had been a successful team leader, we would ALL be safe from elimination and would be watching the other team bake 6 layer cakes.

I carry my cake to the judges with tears in my eyes. Gordon expresses his skepticism that a carrot cake can be light and airy, and work well in 6 layers. He cuts into it, tastes it…tastes it again…tastes it again. He says, “I would hire you to be a pastry chef in ANY of my restaurants based on this one cake.”

Gordon Ramsay praises Ben Starr's cake on MasterChef season 2
And that passes into one ear and out the other, because I can’t even process a compliment like that.

Ben nearly faints after Gordon Ramsay says "Ben Starr has arrived."

Graham Elliot compares the cake to some carnal climax that I’ll avoid repeating, and Joe Bastianich says that he has hated every carrot cake he’s ever eaten because it was heavy and greasy, and somehow I’ve managed to transform it into an ethereal, delectable masterpiece.

Ben Starr's Pumpkin Carrot Cake on MasterChef season 2
In tears, I return to my station. The judges determine that Esther’s cake has been her downfall, and decide to send her home. Wretched…I adore Esther, she is an incredibly talented baker and has started her own cookie company which has rocketed to success in a few short weeks. And to see her leave MasterChef breaks my heart. I feel like it’s my fault.

This has been the most intense day of my life, to date. The combination of victory, guilt, and sorrow is indescribable.

For the first time since my signature dish, I feel like the judges respect my abilities as a chef. Yet there is the looming specter of my failure as a team leader.

Gordon Ramsay cuts Ben Starr’s pumpkin carrot cake on MasterChef

This has been an emotional roller coaster.  The judges send Esther home.  Unfairly, in my opinion.  Esther has done some amazing things on MasterChef, and I really think she’s the strongest baker on the show.  She now has started a cookie company called Batch from Scratch, which has rocketed to success in a few short weeks.  For some of the most unique cookies you’ll ever taste, go to her site!

I will miss Esther, my little Peanut, terribly.  And I’ll have to think long and hard before I try to win another invention test to become a team captain!

Ben Starr and Esther Kang from MasterChef season 2

My Little Peanut