Only eight home cooks left? What I am I going to do after these fat MasterChef recap checks stop coming in? Sorry, this isn’t about me.
The eight enter the MasterChef kitchen. Roll the clip of Daniel telling the camera that “His heart is in food.” Daniel goes on to to say that he’s “Put everything on the line and quit his job in the video game industry just to be here.” That story is as inspiring as when my roommate quit his improv troupe to be on the Price is Right. He won a jet ski and a set of American Tourister luggage. Follow your dreams, Daniel.
Christian tells the camera that he’s got seven more to knock down, “It’s like a domino effect. As soon as I knock one down, they all gonna fall.” That is some confident reality show into-the-camera talk. He didn’t come here to make friends.
The first challenge has the eight pairing off. They have to decide the teams amongst themselves. Christian, Cutter, Willie and Leslie all try to pair up with Elizabeth at the same time. Courtney seems annoyed that nobody really wants to team up with her. She asks Daniel right before Jaimee approaches him. Daniel wants nothing to do with Courtney so he pairs up with Jaimee when she asks. I understand that people don’t like Courtney’s reality show character gimmick but baby voice aside she’s one of the stronger cooks and it’s a mistake for everyone to ignore her.
Leslie pleads with Elizabeth to pick him, saying she can have complete control and he’ll do anything she wants. Done deal. Appealing to her ego works out for Leslie. Willie agrees to work with Cutter for some reason and that leaves Christian and Courtney. Christian has not tried to hide his dislike of Courtney but if Leslie and Ahran were able to work together they should be fine.
Graham says Leslie was like an insurance salesman pushing his way in. It was his promise to let Elizabeth control him that caused her to pick Leslie. The judges are surprised by Leslie’s submissiveness.
The pairs have to cook chicken. Gordon Ramsay explains, as he cuts up a chicken, that each team will get a different part of the chicken. The parts are the wings, legs, breast and something called the oyster. The oyster is some weird under-the-thigh bit of meat. Sounds like it’s the genitals that probably end up in a McNugget but Gordon and Google say it’s the best part of the bird.
In the pantry there are four locked boxes, each with a different chicken part. The boxes are picked by the teams at random. Each team has five minutes to get ingredients. Nobody can open their boxes until after they get back to their cooking stations so nobody knows what part they are picking ingredients for.
Everyone rushes around the pantry. Elizabeth has a clear plan for a curry dish and Leslie goes along with whatever she says, as he promised. Cutter is always a problem in these situations. Willie and Cutter can’t really agree. Willie wants to make a lemon pepper chicken. Cutter wants to make chicken and dumplings which Willie doesn’t think is a good idea. Looks like they’re making dumplings because Cutter cooks what he wants. Bad choices have gotten him this far in the competition and probably life. No reason to start listening to people now. Willie does need to learn how to be more assertive though.
Let’s see what’s in those boxes. Big score for Willie and Cutter who get the breast which is the best cut. Elizabeth and Leslie get the chicken oysters. Legs are being cooked by Courtney and Christian. That leaves the wings for Jaimee and Daniel. Everybody seems fine with the parts they get except for Daniel because the wings are the hardest to work with.
The pairs have 45 minutes to prepare their chicken dish. Two teams will be selected to be safe from the pressure test. Time starts now. Christian and Courtney seem to be working well together on their seared chicken thigh over a cannellini bean puree and heirloom tomato sauce.
The judges talk about the teams. Graham wouldn’t have thought that Christian and Courtney would have picked each other. They sort of didn’t, but still Christian says, “The past is the past.” They even high-five to show solidarity. Joe’s question is why Elizabeth would pick Leslie. Gordon explains it’s because, “He’s a crafty old dog, the old schmuck.” That statement could go either way but I don’t think it was meant as a compliment. The judges acknowledge that nobody wanted the wings. Since Cutter and Willie lucked out big with the breast, Joe thinks they should end up with the best dish. Then the judges over hear Cutter talking about hollandaise sauce and broth. Gordon steps in and just repeats, “hollandaise, with a broth?” That combined with the disgusted look on his face should tip off Cutter that he might be headed down the wrong path. Willie is still trying to get Cutter off the dumplings.
Gordon checks on Elizabeth and Leslie. They are making a sautéed, marinated chicken oyster with a green New Delhi curry. Gordon loves the idea and it’s all Elizabeth’s. Joe tries to help out Daniel by saying that he doesn’t think that wings on the bone are really an entrée. It seems like neither Daniel nor Jaimee knows what to do with the wings other than serve them on the bone. Gordon freaks when he hears the weirdness Cutter is up to, chicken and dumplings in a broth. Gordon dismisses the dumplings right away but is even more angry about the broth. “You don’t put a breast that’s beautiful in a fucking broth.” It’s just lemon peppered chicken now which sounds like something from the single father’s menu in the Pathmark prepared food section. If Willie wasn’t so darn likable I’d say he and Cutter should be sent home. Graham warns Courtney and Christian that the leg takes time to cook but they seem to have it covered.
The dish that Gordon likes the look of already is Elizabeth’s. The judges are laughing about how Leslie and Elizabeth are feeding each other spoonfulls. Leslie pairs up with people that hate his guts and charms them. That’s probably how he was able to marry a rich woman. Graham says Cutter and Willie are on two different teams. Joe is worried about Daniel and Jaimee’s wings. Time’s up, hands in the air.
Elizabeth and Leslie are up first. The chicken oysters with curry goes over huge with Joe who calls it a, “dreamy dish.” Gordon also loves it but points out that the smartest move was Leslie sticking to Elizabeth.
Chicken wings are next. Daniel and Jaimee basted the wings with sage, rosemary, thyme, chorizo and bacon fat served with fingerling potatoes and carrots. It gets an ok from Graham and Joe. Graham would have liked the skin to be crispier. Joe says it doesn’t blow him away and it looks like a dish served at an airport restaurant.
Oh no, here comes Cutter and Willie with whatever they ended up with. Cutter’s hollandaise sauce didn’t turn out. To that news Gordon says, “Thank god.” The dish they ended up with is a big thumbs down. Gordon says it’s bland and sloppy. It’s worse because they got the cut everyone wanted.
Courtney is very confident about the dish she and Christian made. It’s a braised leg and thigh with beans, brussels sprouts and tomatoes. First Graham asks how they feel after working together. They both have newfound respect for each other and enjoyed cooking together. Everybody is getting along now. Booooring. Graham loves the dish but Gordon has some criticism. There could have been more work put in presentation and brussels sprouts do not go with tomatoes. Still, the chicken was seasoned and cooked perfectly.
Why are they drawing this out? Elizabeth, Leslie, Courtney and Christian: get up in the balcony. The rest of you losers, put on those black aprons. This is the first pressure test that Leslie has been able to watch. It’s a good one to miss because it has three rounds.
The first and second round winners get to go up to the balcony leaving two home cooks to go head to head. Graham explains the whole thing very dramatically. The pressure test challenges are all based on eggs. If you didn’t think Gordon Ramsay wasn’t going to do a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” line, then you don’t know shit about MasterChef.
Poached egg is the first challenge. Ten minutes with only one egg and vinegar. If anybody screws up their egg it’s too bad because you don’t get another one. Everybody is tense. Willie’s trick to getting the timing just right is to sing “Amazing Grace” three times while cooking. You can alternatively sing “Fancy” and set a timer for four minutes but your egg will not be blessed, at all.
Final seconds are counting down and Cutter busts a yolk. That’s one cook out of this round. Gordon tastes Jaimee’s first and says it’s poached beautifully but could use some salt. When Willie tells Graham about his “Amazing Grace” method Graham replies with, “Let’s see if Jesus is a fan of eggs.” Graham is worried that Willie’s egg might be vinegary because he used a tablespoonful of it. “Thank you, Jesus.” The egg is perfect. Daniel lost his yolk in the pot so Joe doesn’t even need to taste his. Gordon tastes Cutter’s broken egg and thinks he could have won if he didn’t screw it up. Willie goes up to the balcony.
Next challenge is an egg yolk ravioli which is a ravioli with a soft but warm egg yolk inside. The 3 remaining have 15 minutes to make one ravioli. It’s very tense in the kitchen. Cutter starts to use a fork to press down on the edge of the ravioli. Cutter wants the ravioli to look like it does on the side of the can. Right away Gordon comments, “What’s he doing with the fork?” From the balcony Leslie says to Christian, “He isn’t supposed to use a fork on that.” Maybe Cutter heard because he starts to smooth out the edges with his fingers as he puts it in the boiling water. Times up.
Jaimiee’s yolk looks like it’s not cooked enough but Joe doesn’t say a word. Graham points out to Daniel that he didn’t seal up the ravioli good enough so water gets in and cooks the egg more. Daniel says, “It’s no bueno.” I just stopped feeling bad for Daniel. Cutter’s turn. Gordon remarks that Cutter’s ravioli shape looks great but it tastes also great. Get upstairs, Cutter.
It’s a battle between Daniel and Jaimee. The two heavily tattooed home cooks need to make a cheese soufflé. That’s a tough one. There’s 40 minutes on the clock and it starts now. They’re both very focused. Jaimee’s problem is her cheese isn’t dissolving. Gordon thinks that Daniel added too much milk which could cause his soufflé to be a soup. Sixteen minutes left. They’re warned that if they don’t get their soufflés in the oven in the next two minutes both of them are going home. Of course the soufflés make it in the oven in time and look perfect when they come out. The judges all carefully look them over and silently taste. There isn’t a clear winner on sight.
The judges have decided. Jaimiee’s tasted good but had too much egg white and needed more cheese. Daniel’s was also good but too salty. Gordon says both did an amazing job but somebody’s got to go and it’s Daniel.
Don’t worry about Daniel. He’s going to open a bar with food, beer and the best Japanese video games. Does that mean Mario Cart?