Two San Diego-based home cooks battled it out in front of over 4.5 million viewers Wednesday night to secure a spot in the 2-hour finale of MasterChef season 6 on FOX - a show that combines Gordon Ramsay's trademark hellish-kitchen challenges and mentorship, alongside industry-giants and fellow co-hosts, Graham Elliot and Christina Tosi.
In Wedesday's episode, Claudia Sandoval of La Mesa and East Village resident Nick Nappi dove into the daunting task of duplicating Tosi's Chocolate Malt Layer Cake, which takes "months to perfect" - according to the vanguard baker of Momofuku Milk Bar fame - in just 90 minutes. Ultimately, Nappi crumbled under tough-cookie Tosi's pressure, whose notoriously complicated recipes yield magical flavors that Sandoval was able to capture.
"The day after, I don't feel happy," Sandoval said about the emotion-packed pressure test against Nappi. "It's almost as if winning comes at the expense of my best friend."
When asked about Wednesday's episode, Nappi said, "I do think I should have won - there was a bit of an unfair advantage with [Tosi helping] Claudia - but I can't take anything away from her win. She's a hell of a competitor. Hey - (it) happens, and I'm still baffled that I made it this far."
Nappi's note about Tosi helping Sandoval refered to Tosi by suggesting when to take her cake out of the oven.
Sandoval will compete for the title and $250,000 in the MasterChef finale at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Fox.