February 8, 2015 | Posted in REALITY TV | By

The Top 18 from MasterChef US Season Three: Where Are They Now?

"Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food" by Christine Ha, winner of the third season of MasterChef US.

“Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food” by Christine Ha, winner of the third season of MasterChef US. Available at Amazon.

The third season of MasterChef US aired on FOX from June through September 2012. Now that several years have passed since that time, fans of the show might be wondering what happened to some of their favorite contestants from the series. They were spotlighted at the time as some of the most “talented home cooks in all of America”, so which of them have continued to pursue their love for food and cooking—and which have gone on to or gone back to jobs in other fields of interest? I thought it would be interesting to look up the Top 18 for the season and provide some updates here for the curious.

Going in order of their elimination from the show…

Samantha De Silva

A design consultant from Miami, Florida, Samantha De Silva was one of the first two eliminated from the Top 18 of MasterChef in Season Three.  In an exit interview at the time the series was airing, Samantha said she did want to work in and own a restaurant someday, but “I will focus on doing consulting for the front of the house aspect of restaurants and lounges.”

Her food blog, Random Acts of Indulgence, only had four posts in June of 2012 when the show first aired…and very little since. In October of 2014 she “re-emerged” to post on the site: “So life got in the way of communication as it usually does. But I’m back now, no commitment as to how long but I will be adding many food fixes on a semi regular basis. Stay tuned… ” Hmm. I guess we’ll see about that as there has been no further posting since then.

David “Dave” Mack

Also eliminated that same episode was Dave Mack, a “Caviar Sales Director” from Davie, Florida. From his Facebook page it appears Dave has kept up with his love for food, hosting pop-up dining events, and seems to be promoting a line of food-related products under the name “Savorhous“, which is also where you can find him posting about food on Twitter.

Michael Chen

Michael was the youngest contestant in season three of MasterChef at 19. A meteorology student from Austin, Texas, he definitely showed a genuine passion for food yet clearly needed some more experience under his belt before he’d get far in the competition.

Second season contestant (and blogger) Ben Starr did a lengthy follow-up on Michael in the summer of 2013, which went into detail about the personal struggles Michael was facing at the time he went on the show: wanting to pursue a career in food instead of science and having to come out as gay to his devoutly Christian parents. At that time, in 2013, he had become executive chef at The Kessler Theater in Dallas, Texas. Since then he has been Executive Chef and Kitchen Manager at Monkey King Noodle Company in Dallas and continues to pursue a career in cooking and the food industry. So, good for Michael! You can follow more of his adventures and dining experiences on his Facebook page,  ChefMichaelChen.

Helene Leeds

Helene, the “Health Coach” from Baldwin, Maryland, was the next to go home on MasterChef after making a crab soup that failed to impress—and she was from Maryland no less where crab is a specialty!

She continues to pursue her work in Health Coaching (for a hefty $1,000/month fee according to her website, Helene’s Kitchen), promoting “a heart centered approach to a healthy mind, body and spirit”.

Ryan Umane

Ryan, the self-proclaimed “Flavor Elevator” was the next eliminated from the competition. The unemployed 26 year old from New York City had not made many friends among the other contestants with his smug attitude on the show, and had been receiving quite the villain edit up to his elimination for failing to make a proper chocolate lava cake.

Today, Ryan has turned the Flavor Elevator into a catering/dinner party business in New York, and you can keep up with his culinary events and experiences on his active Facebook page.

Scott Little

Scott went home after being in the bottom three for the third time, the last for failing to produce a decent strawberry shortcake. Scott, an “interactive producer” from Virginia, seemed to be hosting catering events at the time MasterChef Seasaon 3 was airing in the summer of 2012. But his official Twitter stream went quiet around the end of 2013 and his listed web domain, thecomfortabledish.com, is now listed for sale. Scott’s Linkedin profile shows that he is currently working as a production manager at the same company he has been at since 2007, so it would appear he has continued on back to his regular “day job” at this point (unless that information is out of date).

Anna Rossi

Anna was a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative from Boston, who auditioned for MasterChef along with her husband AJ (he didn’t make the cut; she did). Anna continues to run and actively update her food blog, Brave Apron, and on it she says that since MasterChef she has worked as a “lifestyle food blogger, personal chef and had the pleasure of catering for upscale corporate institutions including Neiman Marcus”.

Mike Hill

The contractor from Georgia went home after failing to cook a lobster properly while using a pizza stone. His official MasterChef Facebook and Twitter pages are now gone. While in an exit interview he talked about wanting to start a line of “barbeque spice rubs and hopefully some more rubs”, trying to find anything else about him online left me empty-handed.

Tanya Noble

Tanya was the second youngest contestant in season three and was sent home in a double-elimination alongside Mike. A sociology student from Austin, Texas, Tanya apparently went to Los Angeles after filming to intern in a restaurant and “try her hand” in the food industry (again according to an exit interview online).

A more recent profile at oDesk shows that Tanya has since moved to Australia, says she attended culinary school for three years, and was now looking for work in the catering/private chef industry.

Tali Clavijo

Tali, the Chicago-area “musician” (according to his show bio), was sent home after one too many failures in the kitchen with his botched attempts at modernist cooking.  Interestingly, for a show that is supposed to focus on “home chefs” without a professional cooking background, Tali’s LinkedIn profile lists him as having extensive experience in the restaurant business before and after MasterChef. Even before the show he was a chef/chef de partie at several Chicago- area establishments and then moved to Los Angeles after the show to continue in that line of work. He now has his own business, Dinner Party Pop-Up, and lists himself as a “Private Chef for [a] High Profile Client”. You can keep up with Tali on his Facebook page as well.

Stacey Amagrande

Stacy, a market manager from California, went home after a tag-team sushi platter challenge where she was paired with Christine Ha (and both failed rather spectacularly). On Stacey’s current (and visually incredibly busy!) website, she now lists herself as a “chef and restauranteur, singer, songwriter, grocery grower and enviornmental (sic) activist”. She does catering and is listed as executive chef at 7th Heaven Cafe in California.

Felix Fang

Felix was sent packing after a bizarre corn profiteroles dish failed to impress the judges. A food runner from Hollywood, California, Felix is still actively posting about food on her Twitter and Instagram accounts. She was listed as being part of a Hawaiian Culinary Adventure tour at one point and apparently has a new (as of 2015) online “show” called “Sex + Food” on Munchies.Vice.Com.

David Martinez

The education administrator from Chicago seemed to be a favorite of judge Graham Elliot—in fact, Graham offered him a job at one of his restaurants after David’s elimination. David launched a website, FromFireToTable.com (now offline), and seemed to be doing some pop-up dining events for a while. On his current Twitter account he now describes himself as an “Ex-chef, current doc student at Arizona State trying to figure out how finance matters in education”. So it seems the food business definitely wasn’t for David in the long run.

Mairym “Monti” Carlo

The “homemaker” from Los Angeles, Monti had a background in radio and voice-over work before appearing on MasterChef. After MasterChef, Monti was hired to be a morning talk show host at KEXX in Phoenix, Arizona and worked there for a little over a year and a half. She also hosted a FYI Network special in the summer of 2014 called “Make My Food Famous” about home cooks getting dishes on their favorite restaurants’ menus.

You can find out more about Monti’s recent work and projects at her website, themonticarlo.com.

Frank Mirando

Frank, the stockbroker from New York, made it all the way to the top four of the competition before getting eliminated in a soufflé competition. His website, Foodienomics, is still up and running with recipes, though it hasn’t been updated in a long time and neither has his official Facebook page (his MasterChef Twitter account appears to have been hijacked as well!) By his LinkedIn profile it seems that cooking, while still a personal passion, has definitely not replaced a career in finance and investing for Frank.

Becky Reams

Becky finished third place in this season of MasterChef. After a strong start in the competition she seemed to get cast into and portrayed as the “stuck up” or “arrogant” home cook who few viewers wanted to see win.

A food photographer from Kansas, Becky continues to work in that field according to her website Becky Reams Photography. She also maintains an actively updated food blog at The Delicious View and has videos up on an online cooking site, Foodie Next Door.

Joshua Marks

Joshua “Josh” Marks was the runner-up for season three, and sadly his life after MasterChef ended up taking a tragic turn. A U.S. Army Contract Specialist from Jackson, Mississippi, Josh won over many with his gentle demeanor on the show, and the way he came back after an early elimination to win a place in the competition again.

But what few outside of his family and friends knew was that Josh had been battling mental illness for some time, having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder not long after his appearance on MasterChef. In July of 2013, a year after his time on the show, he apparently suffered a “mental break” and was arrested after a scuffle with Chicago police officers. After his mother struggled get him out on bail and to find him necessary medical support, he received a new diagnosis of schizophrenia; the day after that diagnosis Josh committed suicide. (Source: CNN)

Josh’s MasterChef Facebook page remains active and online today as a tribute to his talents and those who loved him, and also to help spread the message of the importance of support for those suffering from mental illness.

Chicago Magazine published a lengthy piece on Josh and his struggles in July 2014, “The Voices in Josh Marks’s Head”, which is well worth reading to learn more about Josh’s story both before and after MasterChef. He remains missed and loved by many.

Christine Ha

Christine, the “blind cook” from Houston, Texas, was a television sensation and reality tv star from the moment she first appeared in her audition episode of MasterChef. The judges repeatedly commented on her refined sense of taste and her ability to overcome many obstacles working without sight in the kitchen.  So, it was no great surprise to many that she won the competition in the end.

Christine’s cookbook, “Recipes From My Home Kitchen”, was released in May of 2013, and she made numerous public, radio and television appearances in support of it and as winner of the season. She continues to maintain her blog, The Blind Cook, was well as write for other publications and websites.  She co-hosts a program called Four Senses, available online, focusing on “topics related to eye health and provide accessibility tips and tools for independence in the kitchen.​​​​​​​​” Her main website, Christine Ha, is the best place to go to find out what Christine is doing next…but it certainly seems as though she has been doing well continuing with her passion for food and writing since the end of MasterChef.

So, that’s the extent of what I’ve been able to find out regarding the current activities and careers of the season three MasterChef contestants. If you have further information on any of them—especially those who have seemingly disappeared after their 15 minutes of reality tv fame—I’d love to be able to update this page, so let me know!

sockii is just your typical Jane-of-All-Trades who never has enough time in her day for all of her projects. She has written for many websites online including Squidoo, Zujava, Yahoo! Contributors Network, HubPages and Wizzley. She has been attending and vending at science fiction and media conventions for over 15 years, and for several years ran an art gallery and jewelry store in Philadelphia. Today she is happy to be living in South Jersey with her partner David and their 6 cats. Sockii is a member of several affiliate sales programs including Amazon Associates and Viglink. Products from these services may be advertised on her posts and pages to generate sales commissions.


  1. Khanh
    June 10, 2015

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    thanks so much for the information and your dedication <3 I really love this season and always wonder how and where the chefs live now. It's good to see all of them have their own passions and plans ^^

    • sockii
      June 10, 2015

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      Thank you for the comment! I really find it interesting to see how the various people from the series go forward with their careers and interests in food.

  2. Brock
    August 29, 2015

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    Christine is currently filming in Vietnam as she became a judge in the third season of MasterChef Vietnam, having been a guest judge for the previous 2 seasons, and she was also a guest judge of MasterChef US season 4.

  3. B
    March 7, 2016

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    Cowboy Mike Hill has got Game Table TV on Twitter and YouTube, where he demonstrates guns and talks about hunting, sadly. The profile photo is a beautiful deer that was hunted 🙁

  4. ming
    August 15, 2016

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    hey, thank you so much for these info. my family just watched the season 3 and we’re really wondering where our favorite contestants go to. Really hope them who got the offers from Gordon, Graham or Joe can really take the jobs and step forward their dreams. but obviously, after reading your update, they are not.

    surprised & sad about Josh.


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