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Alvin Schultz from "MasterChef" is one of the top 18 contestants in Season 2 of the FOX reality cooking competition series. He is a 28-year-old retail manager from Houston, Texas. His signature dish is Modern Loco Moco.

Q&A with Alvin Schultz ("MasterChef"):

Who was your first cooking inspiration?

My mom! I've been helping her in the kitchen as long as I can remember. She's the reason I started cooking and has always encouraged me to experiment in the kitchen. And by encourage me, I mean

that she would make me cook dinner almost every night since the age of 12.

What is the first dish you ever mastered?

My mom's Vietnamese egg rolls. There's so much technique involved in making the perfect egg roll, and I'm happy to say that friends and family can't tell which are mine and which are my mom's!

What is your favorite thing to cook?

The most rewarding things to cook are those that are challenging, using perfect technique to create something better than the sum of its parts. My latest obsession has been Chef Rick Bayless' black mole recipe. The first taste was mind blowing! It's so rewarding taking such humble ingredients and creating something truly magical. It's like real life alchemy. I blogged about the recipe and Chef Bayless himself tweeted me about it!

What did you learn as a contestant on "MasterChef"?

There are so many tips and tricks that Chef Ramsay and Chef Elliot shared with us, but the biggest learning moment from my "MasterChef" experience happened outside of the kitchen. Chef Elliot talked to us about his passion for food. He talked about what respecting ingredients meant to him. He also shared his philosophy of running a kitchen. It's all about empowering people and letting them surprise you with the results. This was a conversation that I will remember forever.

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Age: ∼33 years old
Hometown: Houston, TX

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