It is the pressure test of the series: the restaurant challenge. Contestants man the kitchen of a well known eatery and serve courses that are on the menu. And they must do so at the highest standards possible under the ever watchful eye of the master expediter Gordon Ramsay. Which can be quite terrifying according to one aspiring junior masterchef. Six kids will enter the restaurant but only four will move on. No pressure though. And thankfully no gimmicks in this episode.
They are the well regarded Comme Ça, a place that tries to transport you to Paris with its food. And this being a lunch service, it means things are going to be quick since a lunch crowd likes to get in and out in a reasonable amount of time. Since Andrew and Jimmy were the winners last week, they become team captains. Andrew (Team Blue) has Nathan and Jenna while Jimmy(Team red) has Ayla and Kayla. As the executive chef demonstrates the high quality dishes they will be replicating, it is pretty obvious that this is a very upscale lunch they will be serving. The guests do not know who is cooking the meal but they do know that it is being filmed. Joe as always is handling front of the house. Gordon does the expediting (terrifying as always) with Graham backing him up. Andrew tells his team what to cook while Jimmy talks to his team members as to what they want to cook.
Gordon says something quite telling about his role as expediter to the kids:
I’m not interested in how old you are. I’ll be treating you like professional chefs in my own kitchen. Got it?
Once again MCJ straddles that wobbly line between a kids reality show and treating them as adults. And points to something I noticed last season. There was a shift in the shows tenor as it went on as the judges stopped seeing them as kids but young adults in chefs aprons. And here it is again but this time but more direct. The only thing missing was the famous Ramsay profanity which is so common on Hell’s Kitchen and shows up now and then on MasterChef. Considering the fact they put kids in a real restaurant kitchen (free publicity for the restaurant)it is no small thing to say that. It meant in his eyes they were young adults in chefs aprons. Goodbye childhood, hello kitchen!
As was expected, the kids went through the usual problems of not cooking dishes right and having Gordon get angry at him. Jenna kept overcooking some cakes in the pan. Andrew lost control at one point and was sent outside to cool down because he became the terrible l’enfant in the kitchen barking out orders and not paying attention. Jimmy did not keep his station clean so plates had ugly stuff on the bottom. They ran out of chickpeas on Team Blue so some dishes (for the executive chefs no less)were not complete dishes. Ayla served raw steak and Kayla raw fish. Reviews were mixed out in the dining room. Some people liked their dishes, some found dishes salty, a little too rare, or underdone (like pasta). Except for Jenna getting burned with a hot pan, no serious incidents in the kitchen. The kids survived the ordeal and then faced the tough decision back in Masterchef kitchen as to who won and lost.
Since this task was in itself a pressure test, there was no final exam. All the judges had to do was declare a winner and send two home. And it was close because both teams did, despite inexperience and intense pressure, okay. Team Andrew won which means they go into the top four leaving Team Red to face the chop. And it was sad to see Ayla and Kayla sent home leaving Jimmy for the last spot on the final four. And the final four are Andrew, Jenna, Nathan, and Jimmy. The semifinals are next to determine who goes into the finals. I think Andrew is probably going to get into the final but I am torn as to the second spot. I think it might come down to Jimmy and Jenna but hey, anything can happen.
By The Numbers
No surprise– CBS won the hour with 2.9 rating in the 18-49 with a total of 18 million viewers for NCIS. ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat was second with 2.9 and 6 million viewers. Third place went to Masterchef Junior with 1.4 and 4.5 million viewers. MCJ beat out CW’s The Flash and NBC’s Parks and Recreation. While MCJ got into third place, its average viewership (not counting the premiere) seems to be around 4.5 million give or take some points here or there.
Next week: the semifinals!