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

Now she’s cookin’.

A Woolwich “MasterChef” contestant continued her quest for the $250,000 grand prize after advancing in last week’s episode, which featured apples as a mystery ingredient.

Nina Interlandi Bell, who forages for ingredients like mushrooms, dandelion greens and weeds on her 5-acre homestead and wrote a book “Foraging for the Rest of Us,” welcomed the challenge of a surprise ingredient.

Nina Interlandi Bell is competing for a $250,000 top prize on Fox show’s “Master Chef.” She’s a vocal fan of wild food sources like weeds, mushrooms and 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. Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald

“I thrive in being a little bit uncomfortable,” she said.

She crafted an apple crumble with thyme, an oat and pecan topping, and maple whipped cream, topped with a raw apple salad. Bell said she was inspired to make the crumble because it’s her son Sam’s favorite dessert.

The judges were impressed.


“You just want to go in for the second spoonful,” Gordon Ramsay said.

“For a simple dessert, there’s a lot of technique,” Joe Bastianich said.

For the second week in a row, her dish was named the best of the Northeast team. This year’s show, subtitled “United Tastes of America,” divided 20 contestants into four regions: Northeast, South, Midwest and West.

Bell’s teammate, Richie Jones-Muhammad, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was eliminated. He forgot to add baking powder to his spiced muffins, which he turned into homecakes with an apple compote and tarragon whipped cream. The judges were not impressed.

“These things have the weight and density of a rock,” Bastianich said. “It’s a fossil.”

Jones-Muhammad’s elimination left 18 contestants remaining. The next episode, which airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, on Fox, is titled “Trial by Fire.” The contestants will team up regions and cook for more than 100 firefighters.

Bell, a marketing manager, details her cooking prowess on Instagram, which led “MasterChef” producers to contact her to be on the show. She shared the recipe for her apple crumble in a recent post.

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