The champagne has been uncorked and the confetti has blown around. It was a very close finale in the end but, as it is said, there can only be one. And Claudia Sandoval won the trophy and a quarter of a million dollars. She beat out rocker Derrick Peltz having defeated Stephen in the semifinal. And that was tough was well with having to cook an appetizer (a cheese soufflé), an entrée (steak frites) and dessert (a panna cotta with fruit inside it) in just sixty minutes.
So this season is now in the record books. Did it match up to expectations? Yes and no. They did mix up things a lot so that the show does not appear stale with some of the challenges. At the same time, there was still a level of predictability. Some were easy to see going home because their dish was not up to par. This year they introduced the concept of mentoring in judging. Did the person show enough talent to go on or had they reached their peak ending their journey? And one cannot discount, despite what they say, is that some are kept around for ratings or controversy rather than their cooking.
I think the low point was Amanda’s exit. When she took out her sponges too soon for the cake challenge, they were falling apart. Gordon convinced her to put the cake together knowing full well that it was a goner. There was no way she would stay in at this point; it would have been better to cut her right there rather than what came next. It came down to her and Shelly. So they did a head fake and made Shelly think she was going home. Except she was not, instead she took off her apron to go up to the balcony. It was bad enough to make Amanda present a cake that was never going to win but to do this head fake was cruel and unnecessary.
Another thing you have to wonder: is it wise to raise the expectations that a vegetarian could win the title? There have been vegetarians on the show before who have done well but not one has made it into the finale. None of the judges are vegetarians although they all know how to make tasty vegetarian dishes (Gordon showed a vegetarian restaurant in France how to make it but its owner ran away from it to become a professional escort). Since vegetarians are given no special consideration, they have to cook meat dishes. For Hetal (and to an extent Amanda since she is Muslim) it meant certain foods are taboo. She cannot possibly taste a beef dish but as Gordon said could get someone else to taste for her. Sounds great in theory but lousy kitchen practice. Perhaps a vegetarian Masterchef might be in order to find those chefs.
One problem I noted this season was how Ramsay–centric the show has become. Some of the challenges were centered on him or his cooking. While Graham and Christina had their moments, it was mainly Gordon. Christina brought a new perspective to the show replacing Joe Bastianich. Joe had the famous stare and his scathing critiques of your food would send shivers. She is no slouch in telling you when there is a problem or if the food disappoints. She has a stare of her own and you do not want to get it either. And the challenges based on her cooking were some of the most difficult ones possibly ever in Masterchef. I would not want to face making that chocolate cake with all those elements. It sadly sent Nick home and he was one I hope to see in the top four or top two.
Masterchef did well ratings wise during the season. There was a little fall off at one point but that happens during the summer. It held its own during the time slot and is in no danger at this point of being shuttered. In fact they are already recruiting for season seven! So as we bid adieu to season six, we can say it was mostly good. They ought to drop the long drawn out declaration of who the winner is and stop the head fakes. I know they do it for entertainment but like with Amanda, it ends up being cruel to raise her hopes that she is saved and they dashed a moment later.
Congratulations to Claudia Sandoval on her win. It will be interesting to see in her cookbook what types of Mexican dishes she includes (and she has a lot to choose from).