A 44-year-old marketing manager from Woolwich came up short Wednesday night in her bid to be named the country’s “MasterChef.”

Nina Interlandi Bell competed against other chefs from around the country on the Fox TV show, but her attempt to concoct a dish combining MREs (meals ready to eat – rations issued to members of the armed forces) with a protein drew scowls and criticism from a panel of four judges.

Nina Interlandi Bell of Woolwich during the audition for “MasterChef.” Courtesy of Fox

“MasterChef” judges voted her chicken tikka masala the worst dish of the night and sent her home.

Judge Gordon Ramsay said the dish, which combined lentil dahl with lemon and cilantro salsa, was too acidic.

“This has got a mess hall aesthetic to it,” added judge Aaron Sanchez.

And American celebrity chef Andre Rush, a guest judge on the show, told Bell, “I love chicken masala and this is not it.” Rush is a military veteran who has cooked for the White House.


Ramsey, however, praised Bell, pointing out that her cooking skills were not highlighted during Wednesday’s show, but “keep your head up because you brought some magic to the kitchen.”

In her debut appearance on the show on June 21, Bell distinguished herself with a fried cod sandwich complemented with a side of salt and vinegar potatoes, and garlic and lemon aioli. Her fair food dish was selected by the judges as the best from the Northeast team’s region.

During Wednesday night’s cooking challenge, the regional teams were dissolved and each aspiring chef cooked cooked alone. Each contestant chose a protein they would use and Bell picked chicken.

Bell is a vocal fan of wild food – weeds, mushrooms, game – and writes about her foraging and food adventures on social media. She’s also a rock singer and guitarist who blends music into her posts.

Bell, who works from home as marketing manager for a data company, eats dandelion greens and other weeds she finds around her home. She’s also a “very novice” mushroom forager and has taken up hunting in the past few years, but has yet to bag any game. She lives on a 5-acre homestead with her husband, Ian Bell, and two children – Grace, 6 and Sam, 11. The family has chickens, horses, fruit trees and an “enormous” garden.

She posts about foraging for wild food on her Instagram account and writes an email newsletter called “Wild Things.” She’s also written a book called “Foraging for the Rest of Us,” which is available on her website. She says becoming a rock star was her “plan A,” and she was in bands throughout her 20s and 30s before turning to a career in marketing. She continues to play and sing.

The winner of “MasterChef” will be announced Sept. 20 and will receive a $250,000 grand prize.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: