This week, on MasterChef:
Since we have come to the end of our hiatus due to Those Games Which Must Not Be Named, and the home cooks are fully rested after two weeks off (not really, since these episodes are pre-recorded), the judges decided it is time to step things up a notch. So, for the Team Challenge this week, the home cooks are summoned to Hatsfield’s Restaurant, a Michelin-starred establishment whose owner just happened to make an appearance on another cooking competition featuring Chef Ramsay. This week, in fact! Could it be a
product placement coincidence?
But, I digress…
As the winners of the last Elimination Test, Becky and Frank are assigned to be
scapegoats team captains, and choose their teams: Becky chooses Christine and Monti, and Frank chooses Josh (and gets stuck with David.) They don their aprons! Look, the women have RED aprons, while the men have BLUE aprons! Just like in that other cooking competition featuring Chef Ramsay! Which is certainly just a coincidence, and not a poorly-hued attempt to reinforce a sexist stereotype and/or make a political statement!
The teams are then introduced to Quinn and Karen Hatfield (but no McCoys, since this is a cooking competition and not a gunfight), who show the home cooks how to prepare four of their signature dishes: two appetizers (croque madame and handmade agnolotti), and two entrees (braised venison and baked branzino.) The teams will have to prepare these, and serve them to 22 guests (and also the owners, though I don’t know if they are included in the guest count or not.) The teams will be judged based on their performance in the kitchen and feedback from the diners and the Hatfields, with the losing team facing the Dreaded Pressure Test.
During prep, it doesn’t look good for Team Becky, as Monti’s problems hearing + Christine’s problems seeing = communications difficulties (and, if I recall,
someone Christine made a reference to “Team Helen Keller” on one of the teasers during the show, which was just uncalled-for a joke I guess.) The judges are skeptical about Becky’s choice of Christine, and Judge Joe says he would put her in the coat check room, as she is “a liability in a live kitchen.” (Boo, Judge Joe! Boo!) Team Frank, OTOH, is about getting down to business, churning out their agnolotti pasta with precision (and a lot faster than poor Monti.)
The difference in relative performance continues as service begins, causing Chef to despair at Team Becky’s lack of acknowledgement of his orders. Becky notices the problems, however, and pulls her team together, and appetizers start heading out to waiting diners. Team Frank also runs into some issues, due to Josh’s problems with the croque madame sandwiches. Judge Joe has to placate hungry (and impatient) diners, while Chef Graham has to explain to him how the battered bread is made, and Frank has to step in and lend a hand.
And then… the Supreme Timing Test: orders come in from the Hatsfields, and the two kitchens are required to coordinate their cooking so that the orders leave both kitchens at the same time. What follows is a Comedy of Errors, as it almost appears that Team Frank is sandbagging on the coordination thing, in order to throw Team Becky off their game. However, after much exhortation by Chef, the orders are ready at the same time, and make their way out. The Hatfields prefer Team Becky’s pasta, but think Team Frank’s croque was better. They also prefer Team Frank’s entrees. Remember, however, that the restaurant owners are not the Deciders-in-Chief. Also, that the editors sometimes telegraph the results, much to my annoyance.
The next day, the judges meet the home cooks in the MasterChef kitchen, and give them the results. While the Hatsfields thought that Team Frank’s food was the best, not all the diners agreed: and, when combined with the judges’ judging judgement of the teams’ performances, Team Becky was given the W. The deciding factor, it seems, may well have been the amount of apologizing (and free vino) required from Judge Joe to placate the hungry (not to mention, impatient) diners. Judge Joe also had to eat a good-size helping of crow, as he apologized to Christine for his earlier remarks re: relegating her to the coat check room because BLIND GRRL. Here is his apology, for the record:
“… [Becky,] you took control of your team, and delivered the goods. Christine, I told my two fellow judges that, with your handicap, I thought it would be dangerous to have you in there, and didn’t think you be able to quite frankly do anything, and that was completely, categorically wrong, so congratulations on your performance.”
Helen Keller Becky heads up to the peanut gallery to watch the upcoming culinary Death Match Dreaded Pressure Test, the judges berate the members of Team Frank for not working as a team (and Judge Joe gives them his Rule Number One: “Don’t make them wait.”), and Frank takes responsibility. Frank feels bad that his team is there, and thinks it is All His Fault. Chef then poses a hypothetical question to Frank: if he could send one contestant to safety, who would it be? Frank says Josh, definitely, after all he (Frank) doesn’t even deserve to be in the Final Five because of his performance as leader! But then, Chef pulls a SHOCKING!TWIST! out of his hat, and what was hypothetical becomes real. Josh’s hopes for safety are soon dashed, as Frank briefly agonizes over his decision, then heads up to the Peanut Gallery to join Team Becky because Look At Me, Suckas, I’m in the Final Five, and You’re Not. (Not Yet, Anyway)!
It would appear, Josh, that your stated lack of willingness to help a fellow contestant in his time of need, has just come back to bite you square in the hiney. Karma can be such a bee-yotch, sometimes…
With that, David and Josh are left, alone, to learn what awaits them. They don’t have to wait long, as the judges introduce them to their assignment in the Dreaded Pressure Test: three USDA Choice filet mignon steaks from (Product Placement Alert!) Wal-Mart. Their mission: prepare these stunning steaks in three different ways: rare, medium-rare and well-done. They are given 30 minutes to prepare all three steaks to perfection, and the winner will move on to the Final Five.
(True Fact: preparing a steak to the proper degree of done-ness is not rocket science. It is a simple exercise in memorization and time-management, and even a well-done steak should be done within 30 minutes.)
Cooking happens yada yada yada, and comments issue forth from the Peanut Gallery and the judges’ dais blah blah blah. Then, the clock winds down, the cooking is complete, and the steaks are summoned forth:
- Josh – his rare steak is perfectly pink; while his medium-rare steak has a beautiful sear, it is slightly over, more medium than medium-rare; and his well done steakis not well done enough.
- David – his rare steak is a bit overcooked; his medium-rare steak has good flavor, but the sear is lacking; and his well done steak is pink in the middle. Also, all three steaks are over-seasoned, to the point that some of them reek of garlic.
The judges retreat to another room to do their judgey judging, while both David and Josh worry that this was their Last Meal in the MasterChef kitchen. For one of them, this proves to be true, as the judges return and announce that the home cook leaving this evening is… David. Everybody is all sadface as David gets ready to say adios to his apron, but there is no need to cry for him just yet: Chef Graham Elliot bestows upon the recently-defeated lad from the South Side of Chi-town a pretty awesome consolation prize, a job. In the Graham Elliot restaurant of his [David's] choice. Because Graham Elliot is a successful chef and restauranteur, so of course he has several restaurants for David to choose from. (Seriously, though, this is not a bad end to David’s run for the gold – not bad at all, and certainly a whole lot better than the swift kick in the badonkadonk and the accompanying feelings of humiliation and rejection that are the partings gifts for those 86‘d from that other cooking competition featuring Chef Ramsay.)
Next time, on MasterChef: the home cooks use the Mystery Box ingredients to prepare a dish that represents who they are (except for the inevitable Game!Changing!Twist! the judges throw at them), then they have to recreate one of the signature dishes that Graham Elliot served to none other than the POTUS, Barack Hussein Obama! Who will hear a hearty Mmm, Mmm, Mmm! for their efforts, and which home cook will end up having their dreams of (15 minutes of) fame, fortune, and a cookbook VETOed by the judges? Tune in, and find out, next week, on MasterChef.
MasterChef airs at 8PM Central Time on Tuesdays, on FOX.