'MasterChef' Season 5, episode 1 recap: 'Top 30 Compete'

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The season 5 premiere of "MasterChef" has finally arrived, but things look quite a it different than previous versions of the show. First and foremost, how wonderful does Graham Elliot look? Between last season and now, Elliot has dropped 150 pounds and looks better than ever.

Beyond that, the audition process has been cut from the show and we start right off with the Top 30 home cooks, all vying for a coveted MasterChef apron. In the past, the audition process was useful for introducing come home cooks, but for the most part it was a lot of joke entries. Instead, Season 5 goes straight into the MasterChef kitchen.

Now they they've narrowed down the Top 30 to the home cooks with aprons, who are you rooting for? Here are some of Zap2it's favorites:

Francis
You don't see a lot of molecular gastronomy in the MasterChef kitchen. While he didn't make the first cut, the second time around Francis earned his apron and will be moving forward. Hopefully he gets the chance to show off his scientific cooking skills, as it could bring some really fun moments to the season.

Courtney
The stripper-turned-home cook is looking for a career and is no slouch in the kitchen. Her fresh gnocchi looked delicious and, if Gordon Ramsay is to be believed, tasted even better. It'll be fun to watch her stretch beyond her Italian roots

Elizabeth
It's a real power move to make a desert for the first challenge. If you're able to do that and still get an apron, that makes you a serious competitor. Even Ramsay seemed put off when he told her this wasn't "MasterChef Junior."

Willie
There might not be anyone in the group as excited as Willie. The church music director kept his meal simple, with rice, chicken and carrots. However, he did it so well that the judges couldn't deny him that apron.

Elise
She really loves her pies and though the first one might not have delivered, her chicken pot pie  won over the judges. Will she be more than a one trick pony, though? We'll see what she can bring to the competition.

Tyler
Leave it to a hunter to break out the venison. If Tyler sticks around, hopefully he can bring some interesting protein choices to the competition. At the very least, it'll be fun trying to see him soft boil an egg or make a cake.

As for those that didn't make the cut, Chandis gets bonus points. After pointing out she from from Idaho and that she would be expected to make perfect potatoes, she then served them raw to the judges. Good luck living that one down, Chandis.

Overall, this is a good group of home cooks and it will be interesting learning who they are through their food as the season goes on. It's going to be a fun summer in the kitchen.
Photo/Video credit: FOX