‘MasterChef’ exclusive: Why did Ryan Umane turn in his apron?

Ryan was sent home Monday.

On Monday night’s new episode of “MasterChef,” Ryan Umane did what many people would feel was the honorable thing to do after coming in the bottom two of a pressure test all about baking a molten lava cake — he turned in his apron after Gordon Ramsay pressed either him or Tali to do so. Did we think he deserved to go home? Not so much — and we even said so in our review of the episode.

Thanks to him having a polarizing effect on many of the contestants in the competition — and to him being portrayed at times as a “villain” — Ryan easily had plenty to talk about in a chat this week as we pressed him about his decision to turn in him apron, his close friendship with Tali Clavijo, and why he and David Martinez in particular never managed to get along. (Due to some technical issues, we had to change the format for this article compared to some past interviews. The standard Q&A format will return next week.)

First things first, Ryan said that he felt as though Ramsay was talking more towards him than Tali when he asked someone to turn in their apron, and thus he made the decision to do so realizing that he botched his lava cake. It’s a pretty easy explanation for what must have been a difficult moment for him.

For the New Yorker, the high points of the competition came when the judges praised his food — and just one episode before his exit, he actually won the mystery box challenge for cooking with some rather unusual ingredients. While this should have been a nice moment for him, it instead turned into a bit of drama when the post-story team made it into a big deal that he gave Christine — a contestant who is severely visually impaired — a live crab to work with in the elimination challenge instead of canned crab meat. As we suspected, Ryan told us that he has “full respect” for Christine, and felt at though he needed to make a move here as a competitor. (Christine has also said online that Ryan was always respectful towards her, and does not seem to be upset about his move.) In fact, the biggest distinction Ryan drew between himself and some other contestants — and what could possibly be a reason for his portrayal coming out the way it has — is that he is a competitive person versus someone who acts more based on emotion. Without him, the season in his mind is going to be made up largely of people who cry a lot — and he’s right based on what we saw Tuesday night.

Outside of why he gave up his apron, one of the things that we were the most curious about was why he and Tali were so annoyed with David much of the time they were in the kitchen together, and he attributed it mostly to David in real life being far different than the guy we’ve seen on TV. While Ryan recognizes that he can come across as arrogant, he feels the same way about David — who he also referred to as “obnoxious” and at times hard to be around. (We’ll be getting David’s side on this later this season, though it’s safe to say he probably will not agree.) Ryan did add that he was friends with more people than the show chose to highlight outside of Tali, in particular Tanya and Josh.

So what is Ryan up to now? You check out his blog Flavor Elevator for a look at some of his pretty awesome food creations, and he also is in the process of starting up some underground late-night dinner parties across New York City. Like with everyone else eliminated so far this season, he is looking at “MasterChef” like a stepping stone to his future — and not the “end all be all” of his culinary career.

Photo: Fox

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