Any contestant who helps out another contestant by giving them more of something after they run out.
The contestants being reunited with their families.
Any time any of the judges offers help in culinary world to an eliminated yet talented contestant, either through help in culinary school, job offer in one of their restaurants, or some other ways.
Jake's audition. Gordon was offended by his dish and said no to him, but Graham was impressed by him and said yes. Just as Joe was seemingly also about to say no, Graham defended Jake, promising that he will help Jake reach his potential. This convinced Joe to say yes and give Jake an apron.
One mystery box challenge had the chefs make a dish using live crab. Sheetal, who was of Hindu faith, almost had a full blown panic attack over killing the crab. Ramasy, noticing this, offered to do kill the crab for her but she managed to do so and was named top 3 of that challenge. Still, it really shows that Ramsay cares about the contestant's well-being, and would never force one to do something they aren't comfortable with.
When Tracy was eliminated, the judges gave her a year's worth of MasterChef cooking lessons as a parting gift, and announced she could work in any of their restaurants when she was done.
In the Auditions, David Martinez explains to the judges that he learned how to cook because he couldn't afford to take his wife out to the restaurants where they wanted to go, so he instead learned to cook her favorite dishes.
During the first episode's first audition, Gordon tried to make a conversation with a young contestant Michael by asking if he had a girlfriend. The man responded that he was gay. Gordon, without missing a beat, followed up with, “Boyfriend?"
On the third day of auditions, Stacey was first up and cooked them a steak with vegetables. Gordon and Joe were unimpressed and while the latter noted that she has the ambition to become a chef, he will not reward it. Like he did with Jake from Season 1, Graham (pissed at both of them) dragged them back to re-taste the dish while pointing out all of the highlights. While it's unknown if Gordon changed his mind, Joe did and rewarded Stacey with an apron. It's both a mixture of heartwarming, as Gordon and Joe very, very rarely go back on their decisions, and awesome.
As an added bonus to the heartwarming, when Stacey is eliminated later, Joe notes that his decision of changing his mind and giving her the apron is one of the best he has made.
Joel, a US army soldier, entered the competition to win the money to open a restaurant. He wanted to name the restaurant after his son, who drowned when coming home from Military School. Tearing up as he told his story to the three judges, noting that he must be destined to do this despite surviving being shot at and an exploding truck, he was awarded with an apron. In the commentary he notes that he hopes his son is proud.
Episode 5 had two:
The blue team were undergoing a pressure test because they lost to the red team. When team captain Frank is told he can pick any member of the team to escape the pressure test, Gordon adds the fact that he can pick himself. Frank immediately says no because he was responsible for the outcome and it was partly his fault they lost to begin with. Then when he tries to pick Felix, who's idea had been better than Frank's, she too refuses. This happens again with Scott, another contestant, and the opportunity is finally picked up by Stacey, but you can tell how she hates herself for doing it as she accepts while on the verge of tears. It might be Honour Before Reason, but damn if it isn't incredible to watch.
The contestants had to make an apple pie. Christine, who is blind, was plagued with doubt on how her pie turned out and was convinced it was a mess. In probably the most heartwarming moment in the show's history, Gordon proceeded to describe to her how beautiful her pie was, scraping the top so she could hear how good the crust turned out, and confirmed her pie tasted delicious. He told Christine to stop doubting herself and be bold, and congratulated her on a job well done as the other chefs applauded her.
Adding to the heartwarming, she ended up winning the whole damn competition.
While he had to go, Michael is given a pep talk by Gordon to keep his head up high. He is disappointed to lose, but he is proud of his acoomplisments.
In episode 6, Joe asks Monti why she lacks confidence despite producing great dishes, to the point he can even feel a subtle sadness in her cooking. When Monti says it's due to her recent divorce, Joe remarked: "Well, he's missing out on some great cooking then."
Ryan and Tali are both strong contenders for the show's biggest Jerkass, but episode 7 really demonstrated their bond. Both ended up in the bottom two after the Pressure Test, and Gordon asked the one who knew he did worse to be honourable and remove his apron. Ryan quickly sacrifices himself to keep Tali in the competition.
Episode 9, the pressure test was to make tortellini. While Joe demonstrates the process of making and folding tortellini to the contestants, Josh is shown up in the gallery with the other safe contestants moving Christine's hands through the motions and thereby teaching her how to fold tortellini.
Episode 13 with Paula Deen had this crossing over with Tear Jerker. The remaining contestants were told to look in their drawers, where they found pictures of their family (whom they hadn't seen in a long time) along with a letter.
Speaking of David, his biggest fear was going back to Chicago without having achieved anything. He made it to the final six, and Graham was so impressed by his progress throughout the competition that he offered him a job in one of his restaurants in Chicago.
David's fellow competitors even applaud him and encourage him to take the job, which he of course does.
Chef Ramsay informed the third place finisher Becky, upon her elimination and tearful statement that she would "sneak into a restaurant" to try to find some work in the food business, that she was welcome to work at any restaurant he owned, whenever she wanted. "The door's always open."
Jordan telling the judges that his deceased mother taught him how to cook, and revealing that the apron he's wearing belonged to her. The judges tell him that his dish is one of the best opening dishes they've ever eaten, and after he gets his apron and leaves, they can be seen sharing the rest of his food — it's just that good.
The capper has to be the shot of Jordan stopping before he gets to the door and dropping to his haunches and crying.
The marriage proposal in Episode 1. Said contestant ends up not getting an apron anyway, but Gordon, Graham, and Joe are kind enough to give him an opportunity to propose after he said he had been carrying the wedding ring in his back pocket for six months. Joe can be seen wiping away a tear in the background.
What makes this even more sweet is that other auditionees cheer on them anyway after seeing the wedding ring, making it one of the rare, if not the only, occasions when people are happy for those who failed during audition.
Another one from Episode 1: the final contestant, Krissi, being surprised by her son. The judges have Krissi bring her son into the chamber so he can meet Gordon (Gordon is his hero). When Krissi gets her apron and leaves, Joe starts crying.
Gordon's face when Krissi and her son enter the chamber. He's a huge mama's boy and he loves kids, and the sheer joy on his face when he sees the pair is just adorable.
After having lost his shot to compete in the previous season, Luca finally winning his white apron to compete in this season is definitely this.
When Bri is eliminated, Gordon asks her if she has any parting words for Krissi, who had made no secret of her hatred of Bri for being a vegetarian, among other things. Bri's comment: a sincere "Good luck, dude!"
Down to just 3 people in an elimination, Jessie realizes she didn't have any butter left and needed just one spoon. Natasha, who had three whole sticks that she hasn't even touched, refuses to give her any. Without missing a beat, Luca tosses Jessie a stick of butter. Luca had just lost the mystery box challenge and Jessie made no attempt at hiding the fact that she tried to team up with Natasha to screw over Luca for the elimination, yet when she was in trouble he still didn't hesitate. Jessie later notes that Luca is just that nice of a guy.
Even three episodes earlier during pho dish elimination challenge, Luca, despite showing hesitation in camera (but not so much in Confession Cam), was willing to give Natasha garlic. He later stated that not giving her garlic was not the way he was and when Joe asked why, in his own word, Luca answered he didn't want to be the reason Natasha was eliminated.
The awesome thing about this? Judges commented that Luca might regret lending other contestants ingredients, but he ended up winning the whole thing anyway.
All of the contestants coming down to hug Elise after she gains the final white apron.
There's a deleted scene involving Jaimee's blueberry pie tattoo on her left side of the neck. In the video, Gordon went to Jaimee's station and enganged a small talk with her about the tattoo and her boyfriend which manages to combine heartwarming (How Gordon was able to converse casually with a contestant) and funny (the conversation itself and Elizabeth at the end).
In fact, a lot of deleted scenes can be seen as heartwarming and funny. They explore more about contestants' background while showing a good relationship between the judges and contestants despite what ends up on television.
One of the previews showed contestants Leslie and Ahran getting into a screaming match, and Ahran ending up in tears. Ahran posted a message on her Facebook wall saying: "Hi everyone — I’d like to take the time to say that I know the next episode is coming up in a few days, and for those of you who have seen the trailer may have noticed that I have a huge fight with a fellow contestant, Leslie. Though it will suck to watch us arguing on television, I need to say that he is an extremely genuine, kind and wonderful person (and I would hope to say the same about myself). So please don’t get mad at what happens in Monday’s episode and PLEASE, bash either of us. We actually are really close now and it was just a case of me being immature and cranky!! I wholeheartedly respect all of my cast and I believe they are all extremely talented. There is nothing personal that goes on and I am lucky to have been able to compete in a competition with such passionate, wonderful people. Remember, we’re all characters and just normal, average people trying to live out our lives. Please no hate, it really hurts us. Have a great day!" Unfortunately, she ended up receiving so much hate from Leslie's fans that she wound up having to close all her social media accounts temporarily, although she has since reopened them.
In episode 6, Tyler brings up his panna cotta dish...which wasn't actually cooked by him. He (apparently) mistakenly took one of Jaimee's ramekins, and this resulted in him being disqualified. Gordon makes it perfectly clear that he believes him when he says it was an accident (Tyler's reaction to the news seemed to be quite genuine), but the judges were bound by the rules and sent him home. Tyler accepted and understood the judges' decision, and apologized not only to them, but also to Jaimee for stealing her dish (she forgave him); even Courtney, who won the challenge, admitted that her victory wasn't quite as sweet due to the sudden turn of events. As Tyler left the room, most of the contestants seemed devastated. Considering how fiercely this group has gone at each other in the past, seeing them sympathetic towards Tyler's situation was actually rather refreshing.
After all of Ahran's and Leslie's drama, in and out of the show, in episode 7 they were paired together by Courtney and created a delicious surf-and-turf dish, without bickering or even disagreeing with each other once, resulting in them hugging each other and Ahran saying that she'd love to work with Leslie again as they went up to the balcony, safe from elimination. Two episodes later, when Ahran wins an elimination test and becomes a team captain, Leslie is seen applauding her with a huge smile on his face.
The fact that Leslie publicly supports Ahran, and leaves nice comments on her Facebook page.
After Christine was eliminated, the judges asked her who she thought would be the winner. Without missing a beat, Christine looked up at the balcony and said "Ahran." Ahran later posted a farewell message to Christine on her Facebook page: "It's always hard seeing people you love leave the MasterChef kitchen. Christine was not only a friend, she was family to me. When the show was filming and I would have meltdowns or cried because I missed my parents or just had to rant, she was ALWAYS there for me. She's my best friend, sister, & other half. Send lots of love her way."
Episode 8: Willie was captain of the blue team during the diner challenge, and his team lost. The judges told him that he had a choice: to either save three of his teammates and compete in the pressure test, or save himself and make his teammates all compete in the pressure test. He chose the former. As if being rewarded, the pressure test was to make red velvet cake, which Willie has made many times before, and (along with Leslie) had the top cake of the day. Joe even commended Willie on his honorable move.
Episode 9: Elise (who has had noticeable problems with pressure) finally can't take it anymore, calling for a medic while pale and shaking. Gordon immediately rushes over and helps her, including holding her bottle of water when her tremors threaten to spill it. She leaves the kitchen and then comes back, saying she wants to finish. Gordon then helps her with her pasta (something he's not supposed to do - but at this point many viewers realized it didn't matter anymore), and even Christian calls down encouragement from the balcony (sadly, Elise's dish was horrible, and she wound up being eliminated that night).
Episode 10: The challenge consisted of serving the restaurant filled with all kinds of couples, which include a senior couple celebrating 65 years of marriage, and even a proposal on the room.
Then Gordon interrupts the work in the kitchen to announce the arrival to "the single most important person in the world": His wife Tana, all the way from England, who has been happily married with for 18 years. Not only do all the contestants cheer and compliment her, Gordon gives her a look full of love when she enters the room is heartwarming.
As soon as Gordon and Tana sit at their table, Gordon greets all the other couples, and then excuses himself from continuing to do something important: kiss his wife.
Gordon: You can all follow suit, by the way.
During the Pressure Test, it's nice to finally see Cutter getting some recognition from the judges after landing in the bottom for many of the previous challenges. Not only Joe and Graham give him well deserved compliments for his truffles, but even Gordon messes up with him a bit before joyfully praise his work as well, which doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny as well.
Episode 12: Leslie, Ahran, and Victoria were in the pressure test, and were told that TWO of them would be going home. Victoria was the first to go, for serving raw stuffed prawns, leaving rivals-turned-borderline-BFFs Leslie and Ahran in danger. When the judges asked Leslie what his experience has been like, he said that it has been better than he could've ever imagined, that he has immense respect for all of the other contestants, and that he thinks Ahran is so amazing for someone so young and even makes sure to refer to her as a young lady, not just a little girl. Ahran is ultimately the second person eliminated, and Leslie is heartbroken to see her go. To call Leslie a Base Breaker would probably be a gross understatement, but seeing him bare his soul like he did showed that he's not a total douchebag.
In episode 15, Nick won the challenge and chose to pair together cooks who hated each other for the subsequent elimination challenge. Derrick and Stephen, who won, ended up bonding and becoming friends.
In the first challenge of the season, Nathan was ripped to shreds by guest judge Wolfgang Puck and barely avoided elimination, with Puck stating that he "had a lot to learn". Gordon also signalled that he was perhaps too immature to compete in the competition, which Nathan took to heart, having been bullied as a child for being so. In the second challenge, Nathan completely redeems himself and begins crying over having the best dish of the challenge, leading Christina to say "If Wolfgang Puck was here now, he'd be as proud of you as we are."
Like with Tyler in Season 5, the group are unanimously heartbroken when Andrea is disqualified in episode 10 for serving her dish three seconds too late (even Nathan with whom Andrea had a fight after losing the preceding team challenge, the latter saying "I can't wait to see you go home!"), especially considering she had been a strong contender to win the competition. What makes things worse? She had the best dish in the Pressure Test. Gordon's parting words to her were "You shouldn't be this good at 21."
In episode 14, after Nathan breaks down and collapses during the team challenge, Gordon rushes over to help him and calm him down.
Nathan ended up being eliminated that episode, but he proclaims he has learnt not to be ashamed of who he is. Gordon tells him he'll "never have to take any crap from anyone ever again" and all of the other competitors are incredibly proud of him, in tears because of just how damn likeable the kid is. Nobody has a bad thing to say of him.
Reba's elimination is both this and tearjerking. She took it well, and Ramsay said there is so much respect for her with her Determinator attitude (she started working at the age of 15), and Reba herself thanked the judges and her fellow home cooks for this experience. When Christina asked her what she thought of the "new family," she said she loved every single one of them while giving them encouraging words. Many people in the kitchen are saddened by this. Cate, who assigned her to cook savory coconut dish which resulted in her elimination, felt guilty and didn't take it well as she tearfully apologized while they both hugged.
Gabriel's elimination. When it was announced that he would be leaving Masterchef everyone was shocked and in tears by this. Ramsay, however, turned it around by telling Gabriel that for a 19-year-old, he has proven to be one of the best students and performers in this competition. Because of it, he told Gabriel that not only is he sending him to culinary school, but he will pay the tuition out of his own pockets! And then Aaron made it even better by telling Gabriel that there is a good chance he will hire him if he ever comes to New Orelans. To say that Gabriel was tearing up in happiness is an understatement.
The show in general. People love watching it because the kids support each other and you get to see the judges in a light-hearted manner.
In episode 4's mystery box challenge, Gordon stopped by Dara's station to join her in offering up a prayer to the "god of souffle" that her souffle would set up properly. It didn't, but the judges commended her for her ambition, commenting that they'd never seen anyone try to make a souffle for a challenge if they didn't have to.
In episode 4, Gordon helped Sofia and gave her a pep talk and guided her to a degree when she was having trouble with her cake batter. Even though she got eliminated that episode, she did complete the challenge.
In the first elimination challenge, one of the contestants, Isabella, ends up with undercooked chicken that cannot be eaten. When returning to her station, she cannot help but cry because she knows she will be eliminated. At this point, every single one of the other contestants gather around her to show her their support.
A particularly nice showcase of teamwork can arguably be seen in Matt and Justine from Masterchef Canada Season 4. During the season's tag team challenge, they are actually willing to share credits for all the praises and blame for all the mistakes on their dish, something that judges praises as they stayed together as a team. They were eliminated because of this though since they ended up having the worst dish and the Taking the Bullet attitude made the judges unable to decide who individually performed the worst, but it's nice and heartwarming nonetheless.
Masterchef Asia, Season 1, Episode 9: Before the challenge, each of the contestants is given a dish at random which they must replicate. A problem arises when Jasbir and Priya, who are both Hindus, receive dishes with beef in them, hence, they cannot taste them as they cook. Sandrian and Blanche, who received dishes without any beef in them, were asked by the judges if they were willing to swap dishes with either Jasbir or Priya. Blanche obliges, swapping with a grateful Jasbir, even though it costs her later, when she ends up in the bottom three (but survives elimination). (Incidentally, in a case of Laser-Guided Karma, Sandrian, who refused to swap dishes, made the worst dish and was eliminated.)