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MasterChef:Mutiny On The Beach

Wedding Rings Photo: Public Domain
Wedding Rings
Photo: Public Domain

*It is week 5 of Masterchef (US). We have 17 aspiring cheftestants left after Kira departed last week.

*For reasons unclear, they have decided to do a wedding episode early in the season. Nor did the judges, as has been seen in previous seasons, provide their own dishes to the event. No dessert is on the menu either. Strange.

*Leslie and Francis pick their teams having won the elimination challenge. Team Leslie (Red) is Christian, Francis, Tyler, Daniel, Christine, Ahran, Jordan and Jaimee. Ahran did not want to be on this team! And when Leslie calls out her name (incorrectly), she fires back how her name is pronounced. Already this is not looking good for Team Red. Team Francis (Blue) is Willie, Courtney, Cutter, Victoria, Elizabeth, Dan and Elise.

*Team Blue gets quickly organized under Francis while Team Red goes to a beat of a different drummer. In most cases, a good leader can solicit advice and get consensus but provide needed leadership. None of that from Leslie. The team members throw out ideas and go off to do their own thing. Leslie has no real idea what is being cooked, which gets Gordon very upset. Francis easily rattled off what they were doing but Leslie stumbled on saying what they were doing while his astonished team looks on. Leslie walks around trying to look like he was being involved but mostly just gets in the way. He tries to tell Ahran what to do but she just gets angry at his interference.

Bligh and other officers and crew put adrift by HMS Bounty mutineers on 29 April 1789. Painting: Robert Dodd (1748-1815)  Public Domain (National Maritime Museum, London, UK)
Bligh and other officers and crew put adrift by HMS Bounty mutineers on 29 April 1789.
Painting: Robert Dodd (1748-1815)
Public Domain (National Maritime Museum,UK)

*Mutiny On The Beach
Team Leslie is rudderless so Daniel becomes Fletcher Christian (who led the mutiny on HMS Bounty in 1789)and calls the team together and Francis B becomes team captain. At least Leslie is spared having to get in a small boat and sail for 48 days to Dutch East Indies as Captain Bligh had to do. Francis said he once was in a competitive sport so he knows how to lead. Okay. Meanwhile Leslie sulks. Jordan walks around not doing much either.

*Gourmet Dining On The Beach
Team Francis: Appetizer is seared scallops on a bed of arugula, papaya and jicama. The main course is lemongrass beurre blanc sea bass served with white asparagus over purple cauliflower puree. At one point Gordon touches a scallop and points out it is cold! Back to the pan!
Team Leslie: Appetizer is seared scallops and mango over an avocado-pea puree. The main course is Sea bass over spicy broccolini and an heirloom tomato and cucumber salad. Francis runs into two problems here. First is that original side for the sea bass was not able to be served. So Gordon made them come up quick with the heirloom tomato and cucumber salad. Second when they got down to the end, they were short 2 sea bass. Christian believes Tyler ate them. So they have to cut up the remaining bass into smaller portions to put on plates. Gordon is not pleased. And the missing two sea bass are never located.

*Bride & Groom Differ On Best Team
The bride and groom had a lovely wedding so now they are ready to eat! But the groom prefers Team Red while she likes Team Blue.

*While the diners and lucky couple can tell them who they liked, the final decision is up to the judges. So the bride has two flowers in her hands, one blue and the other red. With a toss she declares the blue team winners. Team Red now goes back to clean up both kitchens. Grumbling continues about Leslie’s lack of leadership. Ahran gets in Leslie’s face and he yells back as well telling her to get some cojones (I am paraphrasing here). Ahran ends up crying and the other team members try to calm Leslie down. He walks off. More on this later.

*Knives Come Out!
Well everyone is assembled for the pressure test. The team formerly known as Blue enjoys their win from above. Down below failed Team Red awaits its fate. Leslie half admits he was at fault. Gordon informs that only three have to take the pressure test. Leslie is asked who he would select to face it. His name is not one of them, but he puts up Christian, Daniel and Ahran (and again but not accidental mispronounces her name). There are shocked looks up in the balcony and Elizabeth calls Leslie a coward for not selecting himself. HEAD FAKE! Gordon announces they will decide which three will be saved. Leslie has been drawn and quartered metaphorically speaking. Gordon selects him, Graham selects Jordan and Joe selects Francis B.

*A perfect steak
Steak Frites. A delicious bistro steak served (usually) medium rare with thin frites as french fries. Delicious. And now the three have to prepare the same. Leslie is the only one that gets his steak perfectly medium rare. It looked delicious and the onlookers above are disappointed. His potatoes are dreadful though, says Gordon. Graham tastes Jordan’s steak but it is over medium rare to medium. Also he did not quite render the fat out. His fries are okay. Francis B had some help from above with others giving him tips, as Courtney did, on using compound butter. The other Francis did not like the advice. At any rate it looks good but it too is overcooked but, as Joe notes, still moist and very tasty. His fries are good too but there are a few mushy ones. In the end Leslie’s steak saves him and he is safe. It comes down between Jordan and Francis B and Jordan is sent home.

We now have sixteen left. And next week a double billing! Luca Manfe, winner of Season 4, stops by. And so does Alexander who won last year on Junior Masterchef. And someone presents a dish they did not make!

My 2¢
Leslie is a dope, plain and simple. I did not think this guy was going to be so feckless as a leader. He contributed nothing to his team but his voice and it was not pleasant. He was more of the child than Ahran! Getting into shouting matches to prove who is better at it never works. Ahran has a lot of anger so it does not take much to set her off. Leslie grates people in how he talks to them. It is not a friendly attitude or how can I help style, but a bark that puts you down. And it gets worse when you decide to challenge him. He does not like people challenging his authority. I could see if he ever owned a real kitchen a lot of people coming and going from him. Most would not want to work under such a person. And like Krissi last year, he has put the bullseye right on his back. Nobody is going to help him unless they have to. Sadly I suspect he will be around a little longer than most people wish. He has good cooking skills that probably will let him go further than others.

It will be interesting to see how he works at the next team challenge. Only Willy seems to like him. Courtney is now in the number 2 spot of the most disliked this season.

Tyler’s eating reminded me of an episode of Kitchen Nightmares–Lela’s–where one of the workers nicknamed “Buzzard” eats a lot of the food. There was one scene where they went to get brownies and someone (Buzzard)had likely eaten them all up. Tyler better watch it or face some wrath from the Culinary Trio

Masterchef Cookbooks

Masterchef:Seafood Attacks and Doughnuts Not For Dunking

Cooked Lobster Photo: Junior Libby (publicdomainpictures.net)
Cooked Lobster
Photo: Junior Libby (publicdomainpictures.net)

*It is week 4 of Masterchef (US). Sadly Little Gordon got sick and was forced to drop out. He is going to be fine but that means we now have 18 aspiring masterchefs aiming for the big prize.

*Walmart is still hanging around since a commercial ran during a commercial break.

*Courtney reminds us at the top of the show how good she is. She may be so blinded by the lights and not realize it is an oncoming train.

*Ahran really stepped up to the plate in this episode. And really let us know how much she dislikes Courtney. And she thinks the judges show favoritism towards Courtney.

*The Mystery Box challenge was fresh seafood. And by fresh I mean alive and with pincers. Amazing how dealing with live seafood throws some for a loop. Kira was positively frightened by what was in that bag. This is not like the giant crab in Attack of the Crab Monsters! But eventually all just get on with it to make a dish worthy of the Culinary Trio’s respect.

*The top three were Francis B, Ahran, and Christian. Francis has a spicy seafood broth with interesting blend of different spices that seem contradictory. But rather than “fusion confusion” it all worked harmoniously. That is the trick with fusion cuisine. It all has to work together perfectly. Christian did New Orleans proud with his Creole BBQ Shrimp with grits but in the end it was Ahran with her Asian seafood dish that won. For the youngest competitor there, she is really showing some really big skills.

*Off to the pantry! Ahran has to decide which sweet treat the others all have to cook: cupcakes, muffins, or doughnuts. All three can be tricky but she ultimately selects the donut. Oh and mentions she also wants to get rid of Courtney saying “I go to high school and deal with a lot of fake b*tches all the time.” The judges look shocked although Joe looks amused.

Glazed Doughnut Photo:Public Domain
Glazed Doughnut
Photo:Public Domain

*Gourmet Donuts
They have to make 12 amazing and delicious donuts and put them in a box for presentation. The key, Gordon notes, is getting that dough just right. Do it wrong and you start all over again. To Ahran’s delight, Courtney screws up her first try and has no yeast left. She goes around asking everyone for some yeast and eventually gets some from Francis. Worse though is Francis B who really is struggling. He screwed up his dough so the doughnuts look flat. They end up becoming ball shaped and you can see where it was heading. Time is called and Ahran gets to select one person to be saved. After walking around, she decides on Francis B, who was greatly relieved to not be facing the judges.

The Top
Leslie-Malibu sunshine. His donuts were perfectly glazed and the right texture. He did not inject his doughnuts with any filling. Gordon thought them delicious.
Francis-Go big or go home is the motto for this Scot. He created 12 doughnuts each with a different flavor profile. Gordon tried the one topped with pancetta. Pancetta! But amazingly it works and Gordon laughs at this revelation. Francis showed he has real talent and the guts to go for it

The Bottom
Courtney-One tick of a nervous cook is using the wrong ingredient. In this case she swapped salt for sugar. Gordon could not eat his bite because it was too salty. Graham was not impressed either. Ahran is really happy now hoping she is done. Oh and Gordon noted she was not in heels. Due to all the running around, she changed shoes. Wise choice.
Kira-Dense, filling absent (she said it was injected by Joe could not find it) and as Joe said, like a kaiser roll! Ouch!
Cutter-This poor guy has so much passion and yet never seems to get it right. Donuts sitting in those little cartons in vending machines probably taste better.

So we have Cutter, Courtney and Kira at the bottom. Cutter gets sent back to his station and the angel of death readies the scythe. Sadly for Ahran, it did not fall on Courtney but Kira. Kira had not really distinguished herself much so the judges probably felt she was done. Courtney had shown some really good cooking in the past and probably why they let her stay. Favoritism? Possibly. There is no written rule that says the worst performer is sent home. That is up to the judges to decide. They probably consider what the person has done up till then as a factor in their decision. Serving up salt bricks is usually a ticket home so she got off while Kira takes the long walk out of the kitchen since she has not done much to impress the judges thus far.

Leslie and Francis are the team captains next week. And next week is a wedding! It looks like the teams will have internal strife. Ahran and Leslie look like they are getting into it. Could it be the pressure test literally from hell?

My 2¢
This was a episode that showed the strengths and weaknesses of various cheftestants. Some are not squeamish with live seafood while a few were most definitely thrown a curve. You have to learn to cook with the real thing–lobsters,crabs,clams,mussels–if you are going to be a chef. Ahran’s anger to Courtney appears visceral, not just seeing her as a competitor. She really dislikes her intensely. Joe Bastianich said in his blog that Ahran really produced some delicious food but had a warning:

But like all unchecked egos before her on MasterChef, her intense anger and lack of maturity will be her downfall, I fear. She’s not my kid, so I’ll spare her the lecture on exhibiting a little decorum, but that level of unnecessary fury always proves to be the catalyst for a premature exit.

Courtney really took a nosedive this week. Quite surprising really considering how talented she is but we have seen this for. Many a good chef makes a stumble or two. The best learn from their mistakes, get right back up, and do better. Christine Ha floundered a bit in the middle of her season and then picked herself up to win the whole thing. Courtney needs to refocus and learn from it. Ahran needs to let the anger go but the promos for next week show her and Leslie getting into it pretty serious. Francis the Scot. What can you say about this guy! It takes serious cojones to do what he did. He did 12 separate flavored doughnuts! And a daring one with pancetta which Gordon liked. Missing from this week was Willie, which Ahran is right to point out is the strongest one their. But he made no appearance this week, except for the obligatory shots of him cooking. One commentator noted the camera always rolls back to Elizabeth because she has the greatest facial expressions. I replayed the episode and they were right. They always pan back for her facial expressions. They are indeed priceless. On to next week and a marriage on the beach.

Masterchef:Feeding An Army and Blueberry Blues

Official Seal of United States Army Photo:Public Domain
Official Seal of United States Army
Photo:Public Domain

*It is Masterchef(US) week 3. 20 cheftestants remain. 1 will be eliminated.

*By now we know how this works. They drive the cheftestants to some remote location, let them out, and tell them to walk ahead. Cameras are positioned so we get a nice wide view of them walking on desert terrain waiting for something to happen. Helicopters appear overhead and trucks are closing in. If this were 24 I might be worried. The trucks stop and the Culinary Trio hop out.

*Very quickly the teams are formed. Francis B is captain of Red selects Ahran, Cutter, Christine, Elizabeth, Kira, Tyler, and Victoria. Everyone else forms Team Blue (Christian, Courtney, Dan W, Daniel, Elise, Gordon, Jaimee, Jordan, Leslie, Stephani). Daniel ends up the captain more or less by acclamation of the other team members. Are they doomed as one team member opines to the camera?

*Note that when they disembark later the cheftestants have changed clothes. They are wearing team colored shirts, khakis and military style boots (they had helmets on in the truck since there were live explosions taking place as they drove through the area). If you recorded it, go back and see what they were wearing. Courtney was wearing high heels, which tells me they did not tell them were they were heading. Once again the magic Superman change (you know where Superman manages to change out of his street clothes without anyone noticing).

*Mission Impossible
If you remember the classic television series (not the Tom Cruise movies), the team was sent on impossible missions no one else wanted to do. And this task certainly is in this category. They are at the U.S. Army’s National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California where soldiers learn combat in real time exercises. The task, which the cheftestants cannot decline, is to cook a meal for 500 soldiers. You heard that right, 500. The most ever done on Masterchef. And they may not try it again considering how daunting such a task is. You have 2 hours to prep and 2 hours to serve. I think they ought to have inverted this episode and made this the pressure test!

*Team Red decides to do pork chops with apple-cranberry sauce with macaroni and cheese as the side. Sounds good except the pork chops are very thick and Francis never considers cutting them into smaller pieces. Smaller pieces=easier cooking and less chance of them being underdone. The Culinary Trio wonders how they will pull off mac and cheese without an oven (you do what most do, on the stove top). It does require some work. You have to not only boil up the macaroni but make a cheese sauce. Unless you are dolts who think dumping cold cream, butter, cheese and macaroni together will turn out well. That is what Team Red did. Apparently no one actually has made mac and cheese from scratch. Hence why they thought they could toss it all together. Thanks Kraft!

*Team Blue decides to go with BBQ Chicken and potato salad. Leslie says it would be easier to cook beef, but he is shot down. In the confessional he points out it is difficult to cook on a grill, easily dries out, or undercooked. Leslie was later asked by Gordon about the chicken choice and tells his objection. Sadly it proved true. Stephani was cooking the chicken and Leslie warned they were underdone. She was not amused! They are done, she proclaims and off they go to portable oven to be kept warm. Except when Gordon checks them they are underdone! He gets mad and Stephani looks, well, puzzled. If she could not tell the chicken was not done, how will she fare in a pressure test?

*Team Red has really botched it since the mac and cheese turned out horribly, so they go to Plan B: coleslaw. Except they have to it by hand taking loads of time to prepare. The meat is underdone making it more obvious how Francis B screwed up. Gordon does not think much of his leadership and finally someone realizes you can-gasp-butterfly the pork so it will cook faster. Team Blue is already serving and getting votes. Red plates are going out empty. Cue the dramatic music. It looks bad for Team Red. Is this an impossible mission? They managed to get out pork though and soon soldiers who get portions from both teams can compare. Some underdone proteins are found but many like the pork over chicken. One soldier said it was nothing special about the chicken.

*Team Red wins by 329 votes, leaving 171 for Blue. A stunning turnaround as it looked pretty gloomy for them. And now it is time for…

Dreaded Pressure Test
*This is the first pressure test this season. We have seen what pressure tests can do. They are never easy and rarely forgiving on mistakes. What you cook determines whether you stay or go home.

*Daniel gets to choose three to get on the lifeboat. He saves Christian, Gordon, and Dan but declines to save himself. Leslie is angry he was not saved and does not like Daniel much anyway. Daniel makes a snide comment about Leslie’s age in the confessional.

*Blueberry Pie. Love it. Never cooked it but love it. The trick, says Gordon, is getting that crust right. They prognosticate on the cheftestants. Joe thinks Jaimee will shine, Gordon thinks Elise will disintegrate, and Graham thinks Stephani will overcomplicate. All three are correct.

Jaimee: Her pie is called awesome by Graham, impressive by Joe, and delicious by Gordon
Courtney: Gordon says it is delicious and wonders if there is anything she cannot do (trust me, we will find out!)
Leslie: Graham loved it and said the spices used brought together both the best of apple and blueberry pies.

Elise: The baker once again flubs. It is too sweet and shockingly raw underneath! Way too much flour and tastes like sand says Gordon. Graham says it is her ticket home unless someone else is worse.
Stephani: Her pecan crust is a total fail. The pastry is undercooked but Stephani claims to Joe that it is better than Elise.
Daniel: He was the last to put his pie in the oven. The lattice looks weird and the pastry has cracked. But the filling is actually okay, which Gordon calls a fluke. It saves him from going home.
Jordan: It was okay though the crust was sloppy.

In the end it came down to Elise and Stephani. Personally I would have sent both home but it probably came to a coin toss. Stephani ends up handing in her apron and leaving. No loss here. She poorly managed the chicken in the team challenge and here did exactly what Graham thought she would do and over complicate a dish making it a disaster.

My 2¢
I doubt they will repeat this particular challenge with so many people again. They really ran the danger, like in Hell’s Kitchen, of neither team winning. Both teams had serious problems right from the beginning, both in planning and execution. Next week someone is going home and they hint it is a early favorite. But as always the promos are often deceptive and who you think is going home does not. Though it looks like aerial dancer Courtney runs into a major problem in forgetting a key ingredient. Could she be the one sent home? Or someone more unexpected like Willie?

Masterchef Cookbooks

Masterchef: Meatloaf For All

Meatloaf with Sauce Photo: public domain
Meatloaf with Sauce
Photo: public domain

Season 5 is now underway and the top twenty-two are ready to go. And two will be dropped at the end of this episode. One will fall after the Mystery Box and the other in the elimination round.

*No mention of Walmart at all during this episode. In fact there was no Walmart commercial either. I wonder if they ended their sponsorship of the show or they are low balling the shilling this year due to complaints.

*Dessert was the Mystery Box challenge, a change from previous seasons. They were given chocolate, bananas, strawberries,various extracts, ground coffee and of course use of the MasterChef pantry.

*In past seasons they sometimes call down what everyone assumes is the top two only to learn they are the two worst. This time they call down four: Astrid and Cutter, Courtney and Willie. Then after the obligatory commercial break, Gordon announces Astrid and Cutter are the two worst.

*A Lesson In How To Fail
Cutter presents his Capuchino pudding & biscotti. It looked weird. Making it worse he put the Masterchef logo on the pudding! Gordon is not happy looking at this dish. He is appalled at Cutter putting the logo there. Joe tells him that his biscotti are not even close. Astrid originally was cooking lemon bars but now lemon tarts. They look rather anemic sitting on the plate and worse, raw inside. Gordon was not impressed and sees little potential in her. So it is no surprise that Astrid turns in her apron and heads home. She accepts her fate and realizes she ought to have done more baking. If you want to be a chef, you need to be able to cook everything in your kitchen so you know whether your cooks are getting it right or not.

*A Lesson In Winning
Both Willie and Courtney show great presentation skills and remarkable use of the ingredients on their plates. Courtney made a Honey Cake with mixed berry coules. Gordon calls it balanced and Graham calls it a restaurant dish. Willie has a Gingerbread Cake (in small bites) with mascarpone and berry compote. Joe says it shows finesse and Gordon says it was a party in his mouth! Both look like they could win but only one can so Courtney is chosen who heads back to the pantry to decide on what the others will soon be cooking.

*Ground Meat
She is shown three samples of ground meat: Italian meatballs, meatloaf, and the burger. When they showed these three I thought she would choose meatloaf. Meatballs are tricky but not impossible. Burgers are too easy but meatloaf requires more finesse to get the flavors right. And I was right, she choose meatloaf. She also got exemption from cooking and one more major bonus: she could save half from cooking. So she methodically went through the people chosen for safety. Personally I would have kept my mouth shut about why each person was saved until the confessional. So compared it to chess and using them as pawns in her game. On person not fooled was Elizabeth who probably is just as cunning as Courtney but more discreet in her way of showing it.

*Let The Games Begin!
So the remaining cheftestants now assemble their meatloafs. Dan is proud to say he is a food snob. He is planning an Asian themed meatloaf. Willie,who is the cook in his family, says he has got this. Stephani goes off in a strange direction using couscous and blue cheese. Joe is aghast and cannot believe what he is hearing. You can see the angel of death preparing to lower that scythe soon. Frances B starts off planning cheese inside his meatloaf and Gordon makes him reconsider it. The clock runs down and the judging begins.

The top
*Francis B uses meatloaf with Spanish ingredients and it is a hit. Joe likes it and Gordon calls it bold. Graham says it is the kind of meatloaf he would want his mom to make. Ultimately he gets the win because of his boldness.
*Willie presents a beef and pork meatloaf with creamy mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts. It gets rave reviews and Gordon loves it.

The bottom
*Dan presents an Asian style meatloaf Gordon calls disgusting and worst meatloaf he ever had!
*Whitney presents a meatloaf with odd flavors like lemongrass and mango. It also is dry, overcooked, and worse than a tv dinner!
*Stephani’s strange meatloaf with couscous and blue cheese sauce is so bad Gordon spits it out. He tells her it spells H-O-M-E!

*Exit, Stage Right
Dan, Whitney, and Stephani are on the bottom. Dan is saved and Gordon asks Courtney who she thinks they have selected to go home. She says Whitney, for lacking passion. And she was right. Whitney exits and Francis gets the win that makes him a team leader in the next challenge.

My 2¢
At this point it is way too early to see who will make it but Willie, Courtney, and Francis are the strongest right now because they came out top in the first challenges. Courtney gave a kind of evil laugh as she enjoyed talking about how she is playing the other cheftestants like chess pawns and pulling strings. She has the smarts and not unlike Natasha of season 4 in her brashness. As time goes on and we get to know some of the other cheftestants, more opinions will form. I personally hope Willie goes far. This guy has passion and clearly loves to cook. I suspect he will take up any challenge they throw at him and do well. Next week it looks like they visit a military base and cook for a lot of soldiers.

MasterChef(US) Returns

The Culinary Trio Welcomes The Top 30 Photo: Fox
The Culinary Trio Welcomes The Top 30
Photo: Fox

You know summer is about here when Masterchef (US), returns to Fox. Now it is time for America’s best amateur chefs to step up to the plate and impress three important people: Joe Bastianich, Graham Elliot, and Gordon Ramsay. This is season 5 so we all know the drill by now. First they have individuals cook a meal for the judges to taste. Those that pass get an apron for the next level, the others leave. Then they assemble those that passed and make them do a challenge. It might be a cooking challenge or it might be a test of your basic culinary skills. Then they cut more leaving usually around 20 to compete in the Masterchef competition. Last year we saw Luca, who had been rejected a year before, pass muster and go all the way to the end and be crowned winner.

This is 2014 and things have changed. The powers that be decided to cut right to the chase so we do not see the first round and go directly to the final 30 awaiting the challenge to get the coveted white apron. And that is not all that has changed. Chef Graham Elliot has lost a lot of weight and looks great. He did it because of his family (he has a few little ones running underfoot these days). Good for him! Now it is time for some serious cooking and learning who the cheftestants are. The go to their assigned spots and strangely find a mirror under the cutting board. While one looks approvingly of himself, they are told put themselves on the plate. Time for the signature dish.

But there is a catch, of course, for the angel of death will walk by and taste their food. Those found wanting will go home. They did this last year but this time they stop the clock and tell Gavin to leave for his under seasoned food. Then the clock stops again and a gal who had a broken sauce also exits the kitchen. The clock runs down and the cheftestants are nervous. So after tasting the food as they passed by each station, the Culinary Trio pronounces judgment. Those called are given the coveted aprons. One of them is Courtney, who cooked an Italian style dish that Gordon liked. In her confessional, she tells us working many jobs led her to work in a gentleman’s club and is billed as an “aerial dancer” in the official bio. She has a lot of spunk and confidence. Hopefully she will be around a while on the show.

Fake Out
After handing out the aprons, there is a small group standing waiting to be told farewell. They look saddened by the prospect but fortunately it was a head fake. The competition is still on! Now they must cook using the exact same ingredients with the protein being chicken. We are off to the races again as they all frantically have to cook a meal that will judge whether they stay or go. Once again there is a catch for one of the Culinary Trio will be picked to cook alongside them. Astrid wants Gordon and so he suits up (so to speak) and joins them in the competition. He makes a minted Asian style dumplings dish that looks not only good but likely has terrific flavors as well. The nine are called up in threes to present their dishes.

First up we have “Little” Gordon whose dish is fine though not extraordinary. Leslie (the oldest of the competitors since he is 50 years old and stay at home dad), presents a stuffed chicken. Except it is a very large portion that Gordon chides him about. It passes muster and on we go to Corey. He made fried chicken with a potato souffle. Souffle! This kid is nuts to try that and the camera shows a rather poor looking specimen, Gordon tries to get it out but has to bang it hard on the plate breaking it in the process. The chicken tastes bad. No hard decision here so Corey heads out of the kitchen.

Astrid, Amy, and Michael are next. Astrid already has a knock against her for being unsanitary at her work station. For some reason she has a problem putting discards into the garbage bin nearby. So her floor area is covered, and I mean covered, with food scraps. She seems to think this is totally okay. In a real kitchen, they would toss her out for being filthy. Aside from attracting rodents, it can cause slips and falls. Yeah, just what a restaurant manager needs is a lawsuit from a server or cook staff slips and is hurt because some idiot decided to drop food scraps in the floor rather than the bin. Joe takes her to task and for a moment looks like she was going home. But she stays for the moment and then says that cleaning up is what staff is for. Astrid, learn from this quickly or Joe will send you home for real the next time.

Astrid’s seared chicken breast and hash are good. So she appears safe. Amy’s shrimp and chicken tacos look okay but the chicken is dry. Major ding for that. Finally Michael’s roast chicken is too salty so no brainer here either as to which two go home. Astrid takes her apron up to the balcony. The last three are Frances, Chandace, and Elise. Frances makes a spinach pasta with, Chandace a potato rosti, and Elise chicken pot pie. Chandace’s potato dish has raw potato in it. So she heads home while Frances and Elise get aprons. Gordon was not sure of Elise’s chicken pot pie at first. It did not look that great. And lets face it, a lot of people screw it up with mushy vegetables and dry chicken. Gordon liked it! So with a bit of head fake again making her think she was leaving, those on the balcony come down to join her as the final 22 is now complete.

Next week it is the competition for real with mystery box challenge and a double elimination. The previews show Leslie and Elizabeth getting heated during cooking. Leslie got into banter with Christian on the balcony during his cooking. And when they showed Leslie getting the apron, the camera panned up to show Christian and Victoria looking none too pleased. One of the early contestants last season (who did not make into the final cut) said that many of the cheftestants do mingle before the competition which would explain why there is already some animosity before the show gets going. Interesting to see how this develops over the season.

It is being shown on Monday night at 8pm as a lead into the latest 24 episode. Despite great promos, the ratings have not as good as hoped for that show. So they are hoping Masterchef will be a good lead in. Last year it competed with American Baking Competition on CBS. That show got mixed reactions and its ratings were mediocre. While not officially cancelled, it is not scheduled to be shown against MasterChef.

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MasterChef Junior Ends On A High Note

The first season of MasterChef Junior is over after 7 episodes. This whirlwind competition saw some really terrific cooking from some very small kids. What made this show stand-up and make people take notice is how well it was done. Other kids reality shows have gone badly, with parents being divas and kids becoming divas. And while many shows about kids tend to exploit them, MasterChef Junior choose to treat them with respect, give them encouragement, and even when they send home the losers made sure it was done right.

Fans of Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef know that Gordon Ramsay is never afraid to say what he thinks (resulting in the usual bleep). On this show, except for one occasion when Gordon had cream dumped on his head, there was no need to bleep one word out. Joe’s stare was downgraded to a more friendly gaze and he did not dump any dishes into the trash. And Graham was mostly still Graham, though his comments less pointed than normal if the dish was below par. The judges spoke encouragingly of the kids and tried give them helpful advice.

They also avoided tricks done on other shows to elicit reactions from them (like having people lie to them to see how they react) or set-up conflicts as well. I previously commented that perhaps next season they would try to inject conflict. Thinking it over, I realize they are not likely going down that path. They simply do not need to. The formula they are using works just fine. If there is any conflict (at this is a competition so there is apt to be), it will be minimal. Doubtful we will see a younger version of MasterChef scheming characters here.

Friday we saw two rising aspiring chefs, Dara and Alexander, compete for the top prize. They used the same format as the finale for MasterChef where they set up a culinary thunder dome, have the eliminated contestants and family around, and give them 90 minutes to produce a stunning three course meal of appetizer, entrée and dessert. Unlike the regular, they only had to prepare one serving (the adults prepare three servings, one for each of the judges). During the cooking phase, Dara started having a problem feeling a bit weak and needing water. The competition stopped for a few moments (but the clock kept ticking)while water was quickly brought to her and Alexander tried to calm her down. Then the competition resumed.

The judges were floored by the food they were served. Each of them produced stunning dishes and only minor technical issues separated them in the end (Dara had a more sophisticated appetizer while Alexander’s was more simple or Dara slightly overcooked her prawns in the entrée while Alexander’s was perfectly cooked). This was very definitely a tough call which meant the winner was someone who just nicked out the win. Like one of those horse races where the winner just has the slightest edge over the other. And so Alexander became the first winner of MasterChef Junior. Dara though is by no means crying about her loss. The judges complimented her on how well she did. She walks out of there without a trophy but invaluable experience that will shape her future.

This show was overall a success and the ratings bear it out. The finale was second overall behind Undercover Boss on CBS. Last Man Standing (ABC) came in third. It never fell out of the top three during its run but I still think it runs into the believability quotient. More people watch Undercover Boss because it is more believable to them and perhaps more entertaining then watching kids cook. Also many are wondering whether or not the kids were actors, coached behind the scenes. and think the whole thing is staged. All reality shows are staged in one way or another, but how they do it makes the difference. In this case they used the tried and true MasterChef formula for selecting the kids and the challenges. And yes they use selective editing to their advantage.

Are there concerns? Yes. Parents are the ones being targeted by Fox to get their kids into the competition. It makes sense but also allows “stage parents” to offer up their kids. If you are unfamiliar with “stage parents,” these are parents that push their kids into all kinds of acting jobs often acting as their managers. Some push them into movies, or television, or even modeling at young ages. There are unfortunate examples out there of these parents who have damaged their kids so they can get fame. That being said, most parents are not in this category but they have to be careful about deciding to do this. There are plenty of people out there willing to use kids for their own purposes not to mention Internet trolls. Parents will need to really be on top of things if they go down this route. And not just the parents. The producers need to protect these kids as well and prepare them for what lies ahead. Andy Dehnart over at Reality Blurred says it best:

Producers and networks have a responsibility not just to care for their young cast members on set, but do their best to care for them after production and when the show airs, preparing them for the reality of life on and off a reality series, such as encountering criticism or ridicule from strangers online.

I began reviewing this whole show asking the question Are These Kids Really Kids? They are and they are exceptional ones at that. My other concern is that they perhaps put too much pressure on these kids to be like adult cooks. However the way they are treated on this show avoids a lot of nastiness and instead tries to induce mutual respect and good will. Cooking is one way to learn your own skills for later in life but also appreciating other cooking styles and methods. And any show that allows the three MasterChefs–Gordon, Graham and Joe–to take a cream bath knows how to tread the line between serious competition and injecting some fun into it. So I look forward to another season. I hope next year they will bring in some guest chefs like on the regular show and perhaps some past MasterChef winners as well.


Why Masterchef Junior is awesome, and very different than TV that hurts kids (8 Nov 2o13, Reality Blurred)

TV Ratings Friday: ‘MasterChef Junior’ Rises, ‘Shark Tank’ Steady + ‘Grimm’ & ‘Dracula’ Fall(9 Nov 2013, zap2it.com)

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MasterChef Junior Finale(Part 1)-Soft Boiled Eggs & Chicken Parts

rooster and hen
Photo: Andrei Niemimäki (Flickr)

We are down to the final four when this episode began and it ends with the final two. It has been very fast, perhaps even rushed to meet time deadlines (like school). For the first part of the finale, it looked like it would be a typical MasterChef challenge EXCEPT that it was not. They used live props again–chickens–since it was the theme of the night. While the flightless birds pecked around the hay and kids wondering if they will need to kill and pluck them, Gordon tells them they will be cooking eggs. Gordon likes soft boiled eggs. Done right they are truly a delicious meal. Now at this point I was expecting Joe or Graham to step up as well.

Now here is what I was expecting. “Wait a minute. I am not interested in a soft boiled egg. I want a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg,” says Graham. He takes out a cloche and lifts to reveal a perfect sunny side up egg. Then Joe pipes up that he is not interested in either of those but wants a frittata. The looks on the kids faces turn even more scared. Three egg dishes, three different techniques. Good luck. No instead here is what we got: cook one soft boiled egg. The catch is no timer. Not even the MasterChef clock is working. Considering how easy it is to overcook or undercook these eggs, it is a real challenge to cook without a timer. Even experienced chefs might have a problem with this one. It is as if they wanted the kids to fail on this one. They had to know that most would underperform in this task. Not one of them got it and Troy won since his egg was the least overcooked. At least no one served up a raw egg.

Troy then gets to select what chicken parts each person will cook. He chooses the thigh, gives the wing to Dara, Jack the breast, and Alexander the liver. Needless to say, Alexander got something none of them wanted to cook. Liver has a bad reputation but I can tell you from experience that good cooked liver is delicious. And remember that when you cannot afford the prime cuts, you have to make lesser cuts taste great. So it is off to the races as now they are cooking to be the top two.

A Sad Fail
All four get cracking on their dishes. Dara is used to making chicken wings at home and is confident. Troy is taking the chicken thigh and plans to pan sear it, finish it in the oven, and serve with a Romesco sauce. Alexander decides to make chicken liver pate over garlic crostini. And Jack is the most ambitious of all. He makes a goat cheese roulade wrapped in pancetta. This is very technical dish, one that takes finesse and confidence to pull off right. Jack at one point needs to race back to the pantry not once, but twice tiring out Gordon who follows him saying it is like a marathon. Dara’s bow thing starts falling down on her eyes at one point. Finally time is up and one by one they are called up to present their dishes.

Troy brings up his chicken thigh, which was pan seared and finished in the oven. It looks good as do the accompaniments. Sadly when Gordon cuts into the thigh, it is underdone. Gordon was disappointed and Troy looked deflated as well. Joe likes the Romesco sauce and compares it favorably to his restaurant version, he also is disappointed. Troy walks back to his station knowing his days in this kitchen are numbered. His only hope is that someone else has done much worse. Sadly for Troy, that was not the case.

Dara presented soy and ginger wings with pickled vegetables. Graham likes the pickled vegetables and raves about the chicken wing. This is not your ordinary chicken wing but one, as Joe points out, that is a signature dish. Alexander brings up his chicken liver pate on garlic crostini on a wooden board for the rustic touch. Gordon loves it and asks if Alexander had tasted it. He did and liked it. Gordon was happy to learn this because it meant he was not afraid to try unfamiliar foods. He half-jokingly (I think) offers him a junior job at the Savoy in London. Alexander, of course, is thrilled but he will have to wait a few years for that to occur. Jack’s dish is a chicken breast roulade with goat cheese and pan seared with pancetta. It looks wonderful and gets rave reviews as well. It is certainly the most complicated dish presented and shows how competitive and gutsy Jack is.

Final Judgment
Three out of four dishes are successes making it difficult to decide who are the best two. The judges noted the many accomplishments Alexander, Dara, and Jack did with their dishes. In the end, Alexander and Dara are chosen as the top two. Jack in his Hawaiian shirt is sent home along with Troy. Both did very well to get this far. Troy made a fundamental mistake in cooking the thigh. In Jack’s case, it was likely close but Alexander and Dara had better techniques in their dishes.

My Thoughts
It is astonishing how these kids performed. It is not surprising the two oldest, Alexander and Dara, ended up the top two. One internet commentator speculated Alexander was a ringer as he seemed more confident and had better skills than the others. Some are going to wonder, and have wondered, whether the kids were coached behind the scenes. So far there is no evidence of that but one can assume that parents may have done so to bolster their kids chance of success. Not every parent would do this but it is not unusual for it to occur. Some picked up their skills in the family kitchen or like Sara at her grandmother’s restaurant (though I suspect some coaching there as well considering the hints she dropped).

These are not your typical kids but exceptional ones they want to replicate for another season. They have already started the process so one assumes they are going to renew it for next season. However the numbers for last Friday put MasterChef Junior in third place. According to tvbythenumbers it breaks down as follows. CBS Undercover boss won the hour with a 1.4, but was down 14% from last week at 1.6. Last Man Standing (ABC) was up to 1.4 from last week at 1.3. MasterChef Junior went down to 1.3 (7%). All ratings are for the 18-49 age demographic (an important one). So MasterChef Junior has stayed in the top three during its run thus far (I think it opened up at the top and has slid back and forth between first and second spot). Undercover Boss appears to outperform MasterChef Junior but Fox executives are probably pleased where it is. So far now renewal looks pretty certain.

My caution on this show is that the kids can be put under a microscope they are not used to. And it may draw unwanted attention from Internet trolls and other bad people on the Internet. I think parents out to think long and hard whether they want their kids on such shows. While everyone was mostly on their best behavior, do not be surprised if they also try to find a kid or two that will really irritate the other kids.  This is reality television and conflicts often generate great ratings. This is not a cooking show. Then again not many shows have Gordon Ramsay utter that Alexander is perhaps Julia Child’s long lost grandchild. So the homage to greats of the past are being mentioned. If this show gets another run, one hopes they will have one or two special guests.

Coming up next: The Finale between Alexander and Dara. Ought to be pretty good. And MasterChef season 4 winner Luca Manfe is also in the house.

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MasterChef Junior-Restaurant Kids

Kids taking over the kitchen of a restaurant to serve lunch. A recipe for disaster or more proof the producers are equating these kids to their full grown counterparts?

I was surprised that they decided to put the restaurant challenge in the junior edition. After all, this is going way out of their comfort zone. And considering most industrial kitchens are not kid friendly, one that is fraught with peril. I cannot imagine many restaurant owners opening up their kitchens due to labor, safety and liability issues to allow kids to cook for a reality show. Those concerns aside, this was a great episode if nothing else to see how these kids worked under the pressure of a restaurant.

Last weeks winners, Dara and Gavin were team leaders. Team Dara (Red Team) includes Alexander and Jack. Team Gavin(Blue Team) includes Troy and Sarah. Troy wanted to work on Dara’s team and not happy to be on Gavin’s. Troy is not happy about having Sarah on the team (she was picked last). Sarah comments that she expected to be picked last due to her age. Then she points she has been cooking for six years. That would mean she started cooking when she was two. Since this is Halloween Week, I wonder if she is a gifted child from another planet.

Meanwhile in the kitchen they learn what they are serving for lunch, which are two appetizers and two entrees. They are at Drago Centro, one of the top Italian restaurants in Los Angeles. Executive Chef Ian Gresik demonstrates the dishes they would be cooking. Too be honest, I was very nervous watching this part. These are dishes well beyond anything they have cooked before (one kid says of the appetizers that it is not a plate of salami and cheese!). It is a lot to learn in a very short time. Aside from the diners, Chef Ian will be tasting their dishes as well. With Gordon expediting, nothing will pass by that is not done right.

As is often happens though, chaos enters the kitchen as the kids all have to work together as a team. And not everyone is used to that. Fortunately Drill Sergeant Gordon Ramsay has been replaced with Ramsay model 1.0. This Ramsay is more mellow than the sergeant model, but certainly conveys anger when displeased. No foul words had to be bleeped, no utterances of “you donkey” or calling anyone Shrek (like he did to David when he put plastic bottles on top of a hot oven). Gavin though likes taunting Team Dara when his raviolis were done first. Dara seems to be less proactive as a leader at first. Troy decides to take control of Team Gavin believing he is not delegating. This causes him to push Sarah off her station and even cooking. Sarah is not happy with this treatment and even cries. Team Dara has its own problems as both Alexander and Dara are butting heads.

Despite all this and some jittery performances in the kitchen, all the dishes go out and none came back. That is a first (as noted by Gordon as well). Chef Ian was impressed with what he tasted from both teams. Each had strengths and weaknesses. Some were better on one dish than the other but was very close. Back in the kitchen, the kids are congratulated and given apple juice (Gordon calls it apple cider but over here there is virtually no difference between the two unless it has more bits of the fruit in it). The diners were astonished and clapped in approval when they saw the chefs were in fact kids. They had to have known it was a MasterChef taping but not it the junior version.

Back at MasterChef Central (aka the kitchen), judgment is rendered. We learn Team Dara won meaning Alexander, Dara, and Jack are in the top four. That leaves two in Team Gavin to be sent home. Troy is saved sending both Gavin and Sarah home. Sarah cries but Gordon tries to comfort her. She really is quite an extraordinary kid considering what she produced. And I saw some promo recently with her and Gordon cooking something on a morning show. Gordon has an eye for talent and supporting those starting out. As does Graham and Joe. Down the line some of these kids will find doors open at their places to learn how to cook professionally.

By The Numbers
According to Tvbythenumbers Undercover Boss won the hour with a 1.6 rating, down from 1.8 last week. MasterChef Junior was second with 1.4, up slightly from last week. Last Man Standing was a rerun so it drops down to fourth place and Dateline was third at 1.3.

Interesting Search Terms
People are inputing search terms in Google and other search engines (which leads them to this blog and others) and here are some of them:

are MasterChef junior actors
can the kids on masterchef junior really cook
do the kids on masterchef junior really cook
is junior masterchef real

That last one is a zinger. Is the show real? Well reality television (especially the more notorious ones) often skews what we see. Kitchen Nightmares (U.S.) heightens conflict for the show (though sometimes it does not need to like Amy’s Baking Company). While I enjoy the show, one has to remember this is entertainment. And these kids are exceptional for their age.

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MasterChef Junior:Fish Eyes & Cakes

sardinesThe MasterChef Junior competition is moving quickly. Since they toss two at the end of each show, this season is quite short unlike the regular MasterChef which goes far longer. Now so far we have seen these kids take on some amazing challenges and come out well. As posed in my first writing about this show–Are These Kids Really Kids?–we are slowly learning about them. For instance when Gordon asks Sarah how she learned to cook, she mentions her grandmother owns a restaurant and she went there with her mother. Which means she got exposed to cooking skills at a much younger age than most girls.

It still begs a question though as to how these kids can perform at a skill level seemingly on par with MasterChef contestants. Last season we saw some phenomenal cooking from very talented individuals. Yet if we believe what is being shown, these kids are on par with Luca, Natasha, Jessie, Krissi, and Jordan of season four. Remember those chefs already have at least 18 years of amateur cooking behind them (most quite more). Becky of season three had remarkable presentation skills owing to her being a food photographer/stylist. She also was a very good cook and showed it often. MasterChef producers are trying to tell us that adults and kids can cook almost on par. In fact, it seems the mantra of this show to demonstrate that kids can have the same, if not better in some cases, cooking skills than adults. Does anyone else think there is something amiss here?

Consider the most current episode. They are given a mystery box no kid would ever want to have. You had kidneys, liver, sardines (whole with the eyes still in it), brussel sprouts, snails, blue cheese and other things. Not one kid showed any happiness with this box, especially Sarah who commented this was not like gummy bears. Oddly a whole canister of those things would appear on the balcony later. And Sarah, who normally stands on a box to let her stand above her station, was barely with her hear above it. Either she decided to do away with it or the director thought it might be cute to see how small she really is. Standing on tip-toes she barely makes her head above the station. I think the lift was brought back later so she could cook.

Perhaps the person who took the greatest risk and failed was Dara. She decided to make blue cheese souffles. No one on the show ever makes a souffle unless it is a pressure test. And some of the most hideous pressure tests have either been ones with souffles or lava cakes. It was daring, it was bold. Alas they did not set and thus did not work. Gordon did offer a tip or two on how to prevent that from happening again. Alexander decided to make toffee sticky pudding with candied fennel. Candied fennel? Not something you think about at all nor as an ingredient in sticky pudding, a very English dessert. Fortunately for Alexander, Graham loved it wishing there was more toffee pudding. Gordon said it was technically done right but did not like the fennel (no surprise there). It is good enough to put Alexander into the top three though.

Troy does a soup with snails and crisps eggplant skins. His soup is praised for keeping the snails moist. He also goes into the top three. The final person is Sarah, who made a Mediterranean style dish and deep fried the sardines in a batter. Joe loves it and even bites the head off a fish. We find out during the conversation between them she does not like clowns much (thinks they are creepy-I think the same thing about mimes). Joe thinks the others ought to be afraid of her. Gordon also loves her dish. Sarah wins the challenge and heads back to learn the elimination contest is about desserts. Joe puts up cupcakes, Graham a three layer cake, and Gordon fruit tarts. Sarah chooses the cake and hopes to eliminate Alexander and Troy. And when she heads upstairs to the balcony, there is a huge container of gummy bears awaiting her.

Sarah’s Arrows
Sarah may be eight years old but she clearly understands strategy. Alexander is not a great baker and so worries he might do poorly. He then decides to go all in overcomplicating his cake and making a critical mistake early on by confusing sugar with flour. Dara decides to make a cake to make up for her failed souffles. Gavin decides to go all chocolate. Sofia is nervous since she does not eat cake at all. Sofia does not eat cake and never made one before. Kaylen worries about how complex a cake is.Jack has smoke coming out of his mixer and Joe is concerned. Jack though is not worried. Sofia is crying because the batter came out all wrong. Gordon consoles her and then helps get her back on track. Actually this was a side of Gordon we do not see very often where he is acting like a mentor.

Gordon joins Sarah on the balcony and enjoys a gummy bear with her. He asks what her top two are which she replies are Gavin and Jack. And then she says something astonishing. She wants Jack to think they are friends and quotes the famous line ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.’ Gordon is surprised to hear her say this considering what it means. It is comes from Machiavelli who advised rulers on how to keep friends and enemies in perspective. There are many variations of it but the most famous one is from Godfather II, and a clip of being said can be found here.

When you hear a little girl say this line and seems to grasp its essential meaning, it ought to make one a tad worried. It does me.

Time is up and now cakes are being judged. Alexander had problems with his first batter and had to restart it. Also his sponge came out of the oven looking pale. Sure enough they did not cook long enough, dense, but the frosting was good. Not a strikeout but a foul ball. Dara wows the judges with a magnificent cake that looked and tasted great. She used cayenne pepper in her chocolate ganache giving it a flavor Joe liked. A home run. Kaylen brings up a cake that looks like an abstract painter did a number on it. The sponge was dense and Gordon points out that layer cakes need a wow factor. And this one did not wow. A strikeout. Gavin’s all chocolate cake got rave reviews and Joe revealing an old kid’s trick for eating cake inside out. A home run as well. Jack’s vanilla and meringue buttercream was good and light but not the wow of Dara or Gavin. Valiant effort but more like an infield double. Troy’s lemon cake looks uneven due to the heavy frosting and was too sweet. A solid double as well. Sofia’s chocolate with raspberry/strawberry buttercream had the layers mashed and uneven frosting. A strikeout as well.

The bottom four are Alexander, Kaylen, Sofia and Troy. Kaylen and Sofia end up going home. Sarah had targeted Alexander and Troy and both were in the bottom. Sort of like James and Jordan in the last season of MasterChef who tended to overcomplicate their dishes. Once again confirming my belief they are trying to make these chefs on MasterChef and MasterChef Junior indistinguishable except for age and size. In doing so, MasterChef Junior may loose its charm. They are not kids, just masterful cooks trapped in small bodies being held back by age. Something is being lost here but that is a discussion perhaps for another day.

By the numbers:Friday’s ratings are in and according to TVByTheNumbers Undercover Boss won the 8:00 hour with a rating of 1.8, MasterChef scored 1.2, down 14 percent from 1.4 last week. Last Man Standing came in third at 1.3 (up 8 percent from last week).

MasterChef-Becky Goes Home

It is a good thing I did not put any money down on the top two would be. Had I done so, I would have lost as Becky was sent home. I was surprised because she has produced some stunning dishes and shown leadership in the kitchen. Yet in the final two challenges she was not quite up to her usual standards. She flubbed the first dish sending her to the bottom and in the elimination round produced good frog legs but her potatoes were soggy. The judges looked disappointed in what she gave them to taste and no wonder. They have seen how good she can really cook.

Christine and Josh looked focused in what they were doing while Becky less so. I wonder if she put so much pressure and expectations on herself that it finally unnerved her. Putting fish in fish stock showed something was off (usually made not with fillets but with bones and other parts not often eaten). Becky though was given one of those rare opportunities when she was sent home (at least on this show they do not say pack up your knives and leave). Gordon Ramsey offered her the opportunity to work in one of his restaurants. And I hope she does. She has incredible talent and with proper mentoring will become a chef many will talk about down the road. Good luck to you Becky and I do want to taste the food you plate!

So it comes down to Christine and Josh. Both are well matched and can produce stunning dishes. I tossed away my crystal ball and will wait to watch who wins. Christine has surprised everyone and Josh knows she is very talented. Josh is also not to be underestimated by any means. He has produced some stunning meals and earned admiration from the judges. Now comes the hardest test of all. They will cook the most important meal in MasterChef that will determine who wins it all.

Who you think will win?