MasterChef interview: Mike Newton reflects on elimination, showdown with Yachecia

Mike Newton

It’s been a little while since you saw Mike Newton last compete on MasterChef — his last appearance on the show was back in Las Vegas, where he was at the center of an intense cook-off with Yachecia. Yet, his elimination didn’t technically come until the start of the two episodes that aired back to back on August 23. We didn’t get a proper goodbye to the Texas rancher, so suffice it to say we were eager to get some of his thoughts on the show experience.

If you look below, you can see what the man simply referred to as “Newton” on the show had to say about his elimination, his gratitude towards Gordon Ramsay and the entire team, and how he thinks a jar of caviar is really the one thing that kept him from getting through.

CarterMatt – I’m going to talk a good bit about your exit since it’s something that wasn’t shown. If you were able to get that caviar on the dish in Vegas, do you think that you would’ve stood a chance of making it through?

Mike Newton – I am glad the question is being asked about how the show ended for me, and my lack of on-air departure or goodbye; which was not afforded me via the editing. I understand it’s just part of reality TV – but for me and those who now follow me it has raised more questions than answers. I would like to put any speculation to bed. MasterChef has been fantastic to me – and I will be forever grateful to them for the love, support, and kindness they and Chef Ramasy has shown me – I am certainly blessed.

Yes, she would not have simply stood a chance, I would have advanced on – my pasta and oyster were perfect, I had I gotten my buerre blanc on the appetizer plate – I would have crushed it, even without the sauce. And, for the record, even without two items I was hanging in there and causing the judges to over think the two dishes – clearly I had done some major components extremely well. Respectfully – Yacheica is a great cook, but I was on point this day and kicking her butt in spite of the caviar. What many still do not realize is this: I was still recovering from my stroke suffered recently before getting on the show and my hand grip strength and left side of my body was still suffering from the damage of the stroke. I hid that pretty well from everyone. I did everything I could think of to get that friggin’ jar open – even tried prying the lid open – I merely ran out of time due to those issues. That said, you wont see me crying about it, or blaming anyone, it just is what it is.

Just how intense was it being a part of that showdown with Yachecia, especially since it was outside of your comfort zone in the kitchen?

Ironically I was so focused on this dish against her, and so present in that moment, it was really no pressure at all. I was not overconfident, just simply raring to get ‘er done, and felt great about my dish. Until the jar issue, and we of course witnessed that in its totality. Frankly, I don’t think I should have been in that challenge – but that’s the way it goes – and I was chomping at the bit to do it once I knew I was thrown into the arena.

Do you wish you had a chance to give a proper goodbye to some of the other contestants

Absolutely. Not merely me, but everyone deserves to say goodbye on that show – its part of the normal format of the show – Its part of the drama. And, after all the home cooks go through on and off camera to be there away from all normal semblance of home life – we all deserve that courtesy to say goodbye and wish those going on good positive wishes. We lived together and were a small family together for many weeks. I deserved to give them a face-to-face adios and pay respects to my fellow home cooks and thank them for the camaraderie we all developed. Also, I wanted to thank the judges on air for all they had taught me – most importantly to say thank you to all the fans of the show. This was an incredible opportunity to show my skills on MasterChef, and to learn – not being bale to say goodbye is unfortunate. The way they decided to edit me out for the cliffhanger really disappoints me. I would not do that to anyone so it left me asking questions myself. But all that said, you ain’t seen the last of Cowboy Chef Newton.

In looking back to earlier in the season, is there a moment or a challenge that stands out the most to you?

The most challenging was the cannoli…First time I had ever cooked one, and I nailed it. Gordon loved it, but secretly I was really worried about making that dish happen. It was certainly out of my comfort zone.

How much did the show help you in pushing you out of your own culinary comfort zone?

I came into this with some self-important arrogance within my own wheelhouse. I know how to cook Texas ranch cuisine and had dabbled a bit outside of that – but MasterChef forced me to go further in the culinary world and all its many facets. It humbled me, and made me want to learn more so much more. Especially now, I am seeking all those skills outside of my comfort zone and I have much further to go in the world of cooking. I will die following my new-found passion for food and cooking – I have been given a second chance after the stroke and I am not going to waste it.

What do you want to do now in food now that you’ve had this experience being a part of the show?

I want to serve God and give back to those who need help when they have an extended hand. Over the course of this show and my local community watch parties, we have raised over $30,000 for area food banks, 4H clubs, local families in need and private philanthropic groups doing good for others. I will continue to give back. Secondly, I want to to develop my own skills, develop a cook books with a spin on healthy approaches, I want to develop some shelf products, and I want to continue to cook for private parties and grow as a chef.

Want to know more about Newton?

Be sure to visit his official website.

New episodes of MasterChef air on Fox Wednesday nights, and we’re hoping to have interviews soon with both Adam and Jenny, who were also formally eliminated this past week. (Photo: Fox.

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