American Alligator in captivity at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio Photo:Postdlf(Wikipedia)
Originally I was going to write your standard boiler plate up or down review of this episode. Here is what it all boils down to: gimmicks and alligator. Every reality show has a gimmick to get viewers to watch. Masterchef Junior (MCJ) has landed on the side of comedy. In this episode, the judges were made up to be 80 year old guys to match the theme of well aged foods. Fortunately most well aged foods are not kept for 80 years (unless it is a very rare wine or the legendary fruitcake of Hogwarts). One kid thought Graham’s eyebrows were scary and asked him to move away. Of course before the judging began, once again they did the Superman trick by walking out one door as old dudes and then magically reappearing seconds later back as their current selves.
Andrew won the aged foods challenge with his grilled New York Strip with fennel salad and smashed potatoes. It looked delicious. Back in the pantry he is shown three very dangerous animals that are eaten: snapping turtle, rattlesnake, and the American alligator. My mind raced back to images of certain well traveled chefs who ate such exotic things. Andrew has to decide which one to give his fellow contestants to cook. I would have picked rattlesnake. I would bet that not one of those kids had every cooked with one before. He choose alligator and while he enjoys a nice pizza pie on the balcony, the kids get to cooking. But before that they had to go into the pantry to see which creature he had chosen. Mind you that these animals are enclosed. They are not walking about but still you get the obligatory scream. The alligator looks bored and, according to what I have read, the American alligator generally likes to stay away from humans.
Andrew choose poorly because many of them did know enough about alligator to make passable dishes. The trick is to keep it moist! Three ended up in the bottom in the end:Kyler, Jimmy and Mia. Jimmy was there because although his dish was okay, it was nothing that screamed MasterChef. More like Wednesday night dinner at Old Pop’s down the road. Okay but nothing that screamed exceptional. Both Kyler and Mia way overcooked the alligator making it tough and jerky like. No real hard decision here: Jimmy is saved sending Kyler and Mia home.
Next week:the infamous tag-team challenge returns with sushi determining whose team reigns supreme.
Odds & Ends
*Joe trying yoga and failing-priceless!
*Gordon at age 80 still looks good but the bushy eyebrows they gave Graham made him look a creature from a 1930’s movie with Lon Chaney.
*Joe putting a sock he wore on a unused food device was also kind of scary. Now I do not want to eat at his restaurant!
By The Numbers
Due to the State of the Union address, most broadcast networks used repeats to fill the evening. For the 8:00 p.m. hour that meant powerhouse NCIS was on repeat mode. According to TV By The Numbers , MasterChef Junior got a 1.8 rating in the 18-49 age group giving it a win over a repeat of NCIS. But remember those share numbers are funny things. MCJ won with less viewers (5.53 million) compared to NCIS with a share of 1.4/11.96 million eyeballs. Meaning even on a repeat night more people were actually watching a NCIS repeat than MCJ.
I grew up in a time when we learned not to get too close to animals in the wild. I guess back then we learned that wild animals, even those in zoos, ought to be given the proper distance. That meant never approach them like they were your pets because they might just think you are a threat. Simple. But alas many today forget many of the simple rules and just roll right up to a bear sitting there apparently in a peaceful state. Perhaps they saw too many Disney and Yogi Bear animations. Now at Kruger National Park in South Africa, they post all kinds of warnings when you drive through. Keep your windows up, do not lean out, don’t follow the animals in your car. Some idiot tried doing that with an elephant resulting in it attacking the car. So what do you do when you see a female and male lion just having a nice bit of sun on the road? Well I know what I would do. And it is not what these idiots decided to do. Notice the kids hanging out of a car.
In the last season of MasterChef Junior a team cupcake competition, where team members were literally connected to each other, produced no unified cupcake. Instead each member produced six cupcakes of their own resulting in two separate entries though being judged as a team challenge. This time around for the sausage competition, there was no wiggle room. Each team had to produce a stunning sausage and its accompaniments. And the only way to do this right was to work together. Most of the teams got it right but some did not resulting in another take your apron and leave the kitchen result.
Before we got to the sausage team competition, once again the producers decide we must have a comedy skit that involves the judges getting dunked, drenched, or covered in something unpleasant. Last season it was maple syrup and this season is the lemon meringue pie. Fortunately the three kids–Jimmy, Ryan Kate and Andrew–did not have to make the pies. There were twelve there and they had to make the meringue for the pie. I know many out there like to see the MasterChef judges get splattered but personally I think it is just filler for the show. And it is predictable that all of the judges will get splatted. So I would suggest they dump this skit and come up with something else for filler. After three seasons of seeing this, either call in professionals to do it or simply dump it.
Jimmy won the meringue challenge and gets to pick the teams. No exemption for him! He has to cook as well. Probably the one he was most clever about was pairing up Andrew with Cory. Andrew has one way of doing things and Cory another. And they cannot agree on much. Which means producing a unified sausage dish is going to be a challenge. Jenna hates sausage and it makes you wonder if pairing with Mia will work. But despite her dislike of sausage, their pork & chorizo with sauerkraut is delicious. Joe thinks it reminds him of a rustic German dish and even yodels when the girls ask. Gordon is pleased as well.
Jimmy and Kyler though have a split decision, which is rare to see on MasterChef. Joe likes their pork butt & kangaroo dish but Gordon has a totally different reaction. Not only did he disagree with Joe but said they ought to have left kangaroo to the Australians. Which means Graham would be tasting it to break the tie. But no, for some reason it is not shown. Huh? Here you have two judges with two completely different takes on a contestant’s food. Is it not worth it to put in what Graham thought as well.
On the other hand Ayla & Reilly got raves for their version of bangers and mash. Gordon’s only complaint was that the sausage was too small. But at least they got it right unlike Andrew & Cory and Alexis & Micah. Andrew & Cory was a sad dish to look at. The sausage was dry and bland which is not a good thing when it is supposed to be the star. Alexis & Micah had a promising dish with white bean and Swiss chard stew but both the sausage and stew were under seasoned. Meaning the sausage sat in a watery dish that gave it no help. Not good at all.
The winning team was Jenna and Micah, remarkable when you recall Jenna hated sausage. It was no surprise that Andrew & Cory and Alexis & Micah ended up on the bottom. After the usual drama, Alexis & Micah were sent home.
I liked the sausage challenge which took them out of their comfort zone. Most people do not make their own sausage. It is a lot of work to do but gives you control over the meat and spices being used.
Odds & Ends
*Andrew really has to learn that yelling at inanimate objects like stand mixers will do no good. Unless you are on The Muppet Show and only with the Swedish Chef.
*Always watch your flame on a gas burner. Once it goes out precious cooking time is lost.
*As always those who over salt their food will get zinged but those who under season their food will always end up on the bottom.
By The Numbers TV By The Numbers final results for Tuesday night are in. For the 8:00 p.m. hour, NCIS (CBS) won 1st place with 19.87 million, SharkTank(ABC) came in second at 7.48 million, and in third place MasterChef Junior with 4.93 million viewers. MasterChef was 5.26 million last week so it lost viewers, which is not unexpected, after the premiere. Fox has renewed it already for a fourth season and replacing Joe is Christina Tosi, the owner of New York’s dessert-based restaurant Momofuku Milk Bar.
Next week: We see aged versions of the judges and there are some scary reptiles and snakes in the house. (Note: The U.S. State of the Union address will be shown at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT on that day. So it is likely the east and central timezones will have their showing pre-empted for its coverage).
Lucy Christiana, Lady Duff-Gordon(circa 1916 or earlier by Arnold Genthe) Photo:Public Domain (Arnold Genthe Collection,US Library of Congress digital id agc.7a15137)
RR Auction of Amherst, NH has put up for auction a letter written by Titanic survivor Lady Duff-Gordon. The letter is dated 27 May 1912 and sent to a friend. In the letter she writes “According to the way we’ve been treated by England on our return we didn’t seem to have done the right thing in being saved at all!!!! Isn’t it disgraceful.” The letter was written during the time of the British inquiry in which both she and her husband Sir Cosmo were questioned about being on a lifeboat (lifeboat #1)with so few people aboard it. The minimum bid is $300 and you can view the letter and details by clicking here.
Here we go again with another season of MasterChef Junior season 3. Are you ready? Too bad because here we go!
*The kids arrive and told they are the best kid cooks around. But they need one thing to complete the image, an apron. Treasure hunt! They race into the pantry to search food bins, containers, refrigerators and even large objects shaped like chocolate eggs for aprons with their name on it. Fortunately the clock is not ticking. Trust me if they do this again they will give them 5 minutes and then they wear the apron of shame (one that has a picture of Gordon laughing).
*The mystery box is chocked full of ingredients including a nice piece of salmon. So many ways to cook this nice bit of fish or something else. Ultimately Kayla, Jack, and Jenna are called up for their dishes to be sampled. And in a first for Masterchef, a tie. Seems the judges could not make up their minds who would win. So they all do! They go back to the pantry to select one of three pastas for their fellow cheftestants to cook. Joe likes ravioli, Graham lasagna, and Gordon pappardelle. Pappardelle is a wide pasta not unlike fettucine and is served with a hearty sauce. Delicious but complicated to get the pasta just right.
*While the three head up to the balcony with ice cream sundaes, someone hopes they get brain freeze. Perhaps said in jest or perhaps not!
*It really comes down to who made not only the best pasta but a flavorful sauce as well. Underdone noodles, too little sauce, missing salt are all things that the judges notice when they taste the results. However there are enough delicious ones to pass muster and keep them in the competition. Ryan Kate, Jimmy, and Andrew are the winners but sadly AJ, Philly, Quincy, Jianna, and Parker are sent home at the end. Wow that is a big chop sending five home the first night. This season is starting off fast and will go by quickly if the usual pace of about two per episode dropped is kept from this point on.
*First ever major kitchen incident. Up till now most injuries are simple nicks but unfortunately Kayla Mitchell (age 11) sliced two fingers during the mystery box challenge. Yikes! Medics are quickly dispatched and make sure the wounds are not serious. They quickly bandage her and and put a glove on the hand to protect it. She then resumes the competition and of course was in the top three winners of the challenge. It was pretty bloody reports Radar Online
All I remember seeing was, like, part of my nail was gone and there was just blood everywhere. It was horrible. Honestly, I didn’t really know what to do. You want to keep pushing and you want to keep going to cook and finish. I was just really nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to finish the challenge.
*Needless to say MasterChef immediately alerted the media that the set is well staffed with medics and a safety class is held so the kids know kitchen safety basics. Accidents are going to happen and thankfully this was not something requiring a trip to the hospital and requiring stitches.
*One writer out there said it is really hard to know what makes these kids tick. We get hardly any background about their lives at home. Just some bits and pieces dropped here and there. It is a valid point. How do these kids get this good? Be nice to see them at home to add more to their backstory.
*So how did the show fare in the ratings? According to TV By The Numbers, MasterChef Junior earned a 1.8 rating for adults 18-49, even with fall season premiere and up 6 percent from the last season finale. But NCIS was 2.7 with a 17 percent gain from its most original episode. ABC’s Marvel’s Agent Carter got a respectable 1.9 putting MasterChef in third place for the 8:00 hour. It means 19. 49 people watched NCIS, 6.88 million for Agent Carter, and 5.26 million for MasterChef Junior.
Next week we go vaudeville or old school comedy with the old fashioned pie-in-your-face skit.