MasterChef-Down to 4, then 3….

I did not write about the 21 Aug episode so this will be a combined entry that includes the most recent episode (28 Aug).

1. Sashimi Blues (21 Aug 2012)

The cheftestants are dealt a twist with Mystery Box challenge. First they are told to assemble ingredients for their signature dish. When that is done, they switch their boxes with the person in front of them. Graham gloats in delight at this switch. Monti gets Christine’s Asian themed box and sees the fish sauce, tastes it, and says it tastes like death. Fish sauce is used in a lot of Asian dishes and like vinegar, rarely tasted by itself.

The judges bring up Josh, Monti and Christine. Josh made a sausage bread pudding which they all like. Monti does a version of a Thai dish and also gets praise. Christine’s chicken dish is praised as symphonic. Josh gets the win and he gets to select which Graham Elliot dish (eaten by celebrities and President Obama). Josh selects the white tuna sashimi dish which looks deceptively simple but is not at all. Josh gets a basket containing all the ingredients (a major advantage) for the dish while everyone else has to discern all the components from looking and tasting it. Josh decides he can improve the dish with some mango. A word to the wise: It is not nice to tamper with a MasterChef’‘s dish unless it really, really works. Otherwise be prepared for getting your fingers broken off.

Watching the preparation worries the MasterChefs. They notice problems with Joshua, Becky and Monti. Monti decides to add heavy cream to the avocado, which Graham later notes just washed away its flavor. Christine does the amazing in recreating Graham’s dish almost exactly as the original. The are all amazed. And they all agree it tastes exactly as it should. Joe B.makes an interesting observation to Christine. He says that when he drinks wine he sees things and realizes she does the same with the food she tastes.

Becky’s dish is not that good, Josh’s attempt to add mango backfires, and Monti’s dish is one of the worst she has ever done.  Josh is more strongly criticized for his poor slicing techniques but in the end Monti gets sent home. Christine is the winner.

2. The Three (28 Aug 2012)

Here we are down to the final four: Becky, Christine, Frank and Josh. Tonight they cook not only for the MasterChef judges but three very well known–and esteemed–French chefs with Michelin stars to back them up. They are Guy Savoy( 8 Michelin stars), Daniel Boulud (4 stars), and Alain Ducasse(21 stars!). Oh and Guy Savoy was Gordon’s mentor making it even more interesting. So our home cooks are going to produce a three course meal for the distinguished guests: appetizer, entrée, and desert. Since Christine won last time, she picks Becky. Josh and Frank are paired together, which given what Frank did in another episode makes it an uneasy working relationship.

Christine/Becky have the better appetizer (a broth with seafood) over Frank/Josh’s vegetable dish. Frank/Josh have the better entrée due to Becky screwing up the plating. It comes down to desert. Christine/Becky was well liked and put together well while Frank/Josh looked sloppy and inconsistent in plating (although some liked its flavors). In the end Christine/Becky win getting a place in the final three. Now comes the hideous pressure test for Frank and Josh.

We have seen some doozies in the past but this one is beyond terrifying. It actually is nearly impossible, which Gordon admits to. They have to cook up three souffles in one hour: a savory cheddar, a raspberry, and a chocolate. One is pretty difficult considering how fussy a souffle is. Even Julia Child had problems doing it! Having to do three and in three different preparations is something almost cruel in its inception. In the end it came down to the chocolate souffle as it was tied. Graham looked uncomfortable rendering his verdict for Josh and sending Frank home.

So now the final three are set–Becky, Christine, and Josh–and next week they cook to win.

My Comments:
(1) I was not surprised when Monti went. She finally hit the wall and could go no further. However she proved to be very impressive and creative. I hope she gets some practical training in a kitchen to hone her skills. And if she does open a food truck, I would love to try her food. My guess is that it will be very good.

(2) Josh really botched it in both episodes. He had the advantage in one where he got all the ingredients he needed for the dish. His adding mango did not improve it and his knife skills were bad. In the second challenge with Frank, he just again seemed not to do it right. He was right there with Frank so he cannot blame it all on him. He won the pressure test but it was very close.

(3) I was shocked to see  Frank go. This was a guy I thought would be in the top 2 or 3. Joe B. is right though. He does have the right combination of things that would make him succeed in New York. I suspect down the road this will prove true. In the meantime, Frank likely will be learning from Joe B. or Mario Batali how to cook even better and run a restaurant.

Some out there think there is a conspiracy for a Josh win. The thinking is that the second chances was a cover to get Josh back. And that he has been on the bottom a lot since then and not sent home. The problem is that fixing it that way is not so easy. This is not like game show of old where slipping the answers gives the edge. Josh has to prove he has merit and someone has to do worse for him to survive. And both Monti and Frank slipped up (one major league the other just by a sliver).

My money is now on Becky to win. While she has missteps, I think she has the ability to win it. Christine could but Josh has too much to prove that could trip him up. At any rate, it ought to be a great thing to watch.