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MasterChef: Running Down Who's Left In The Game

09/01/2010 11:00 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It is week 5 for MasterChef, and the competition is getting fierce. Thousands auditioned, we are now down to 9, with more to be eliminated on Wednesday. Front runners are emerging, and as we learn more about our tenacious home cooks, we see their strengths and weaknesses unfold. Here's a rundown of who is still in the game:

Sheetal stuns us with her talent in the kitchen and her beautiful looks. The questions is, can she translate her beauty and talent in to the truly exceptional dishes needed to propel her into the upper echelon of MasterChef. Although we haven't heard too much from her on the show as of yet, her consistency and survival techniques have been enough to get her through thus far.

Jake is the ultimate juxtaposition, a culinary chameleon; just when you think he's down and out, he pulls off a near perfect culinary concoction. Who knew a construction worker could bake a cupcake of such decadence? After cutting it close in the audition round, Jake was given a chance to prove himself, and that he's done.

A natural leader and a talent in the kitchen, Sharone's even-keeledness and steady hand with the sauté pan make him a strong contender for the win. It is his willingness to help the team that detracts from his individual chance for success. For Sharone, it may be the others that do him in.

Kim Dung "Slim" Huynh

More than any other contestant, Slim can trade on her heritage for points in the MasterChef kitchen. She does dishes of her cultural heritage justice in a successful way. However, both her dishes and her attitude exude a little too much pride -- it is this excessive pride and stubbornness that may prove her undoing.

Mike shows the most natural food sensibility of them all. He moves easily around food-perhaps too easy! His movements in the kitchen reek of experience; particularly his handling of fish is just singular. We'll have to wait and see if his speed and agility will help or hurt him in the end.

Lee brings a foreign appeal to the Americana-dominated field that represents MasterChef. His Israeli background and Mediterranean flavors have helped him advance to this point, but does he lack the domestic sensibility needed to keep up with the challenges?

Dave brings a need for Freudian psychoanalysis to the MasterChef set. To follow Dave is an emotional roller coaster from exuberance to crushing defeat in less time than it takes to fry an egg. Yet he shows moments of culinary brilliance, and has the sensibility of a trained restaurant cook. He should take care not to let his ambitions get the best of him.

A fresh, young talent, Whitney is showing a lot of promise, but her limited life experience may hold her back from reaching the highest level at Masterchef. Her native southern cooking is her strong point, but how much southern cooking can the judges take? Time will tell if young Whitney's neck is strong enough to carry the crown.

Dr. Tracy's worldly, maternal, and educated persona gives us comfort in her ability as a person, but does this translate into her ability as a chef? We love that she honors her mother's memory in every dish she makes. But can this talented doctor become a talented chef in her own right? Maybe it is better she sticks to medicine, or will Masterchef make a career changer out of her?