MasterChef US Season 6, Episode 4:Knott’s Berry Farm and Cinnamon Buns

20 cheftestants remain and face their first team challenge at Knott’s Berry Farm. The losers face the dreaded pressure test where cinnamon buns determine their fate.

*Knott’s Berry Farm is a nice place for the team challenge. It is considered one of the earliest theme parks in the country as it started in the 1950’s before House of Mouse was built. Much has changed along with the rides and attractions. In addition to the famous chicken restaurant, T.G.I. Fridays and Cinnabon are there as well. But today Masterchef is holding food court serving up hamburgers with onion rings and coleslaw, and fish and chips.

*People sort themselves on their own into teams but the judges decide who are the team captains. Team Blue is Darah and Team Red Kerry. Darah works in a theme park and Kerry is a human relations department manager. Fire up the grill and get the fryer going.

*This is not a real difficult task but requires organization to pull off right. And both teams have problems. Team Red wants to do three sauces but Gordon nixes that. Later though Kerry screws up by not having onion rings (he got too busy) so they have to race to get them done.

Photo: Fox
Photo: Fox

*Team Blue is disorganized because Darah is not a good leader. Katrina is doing the batter for both onion rings and fish. Tommy is concerned she is moving too slow but she is the only one doing both. Two problems emerge. One is that fish are not being cooked and later because the batter is too thick they are coming out raw.  Gordon threatens to shut down Team Blue if they have another major problem.

*The ten second rule meant if you did not have the food ready for them, they got an empty basket. Both teams had problems but Team Blue came up short in the end. Even though comments were suggesting many liked their food better, too few were able to cast their vote for them. They got empty blue paper lined baskets and the paper ended up blowing around Knott’s Berry Farm for the rest of the day.

*Everyone reassembles the next day for the Dreaded Elimination Challenge. Team Blue stands there and the inevitable question to Darah is what went wrong. She did not answer that question and instead talked up individual team accomplishments. Oops. Talk about clueless about the concept here. The judges want to know what YOU did wrong.

*Well Tommy sure does not like Katrina much. He said the problem was lack of communication and through some dog poo at Katrina. I hardly think she was the problem on this team (she was one of the harder workers there). Derrick was never asked but in the confessional did not think much of Darah.

*Darah has the option to save up to five people and her choices mostly puzzle the judges. She does not save either Katrina or Derrick who did a lot of the work. Hetal declines the save saying she belonged there and offers her spot to Derrick (who did not belong there). Darah did not save herself leaving Katrina, Olivia, Hetal, and Tommy to join her in the Dreaded Pressure Test.

Cinnamon roll buns fresh from the oven. Photo:Eric Petruno
Cinnamon roll buns fresh from the oven.
Photo:Eric Petruno

*Cinnamon Roll. Ah, the lure of the cinnamon roll.  Fragrant and gooey deliciousness when done right. They are a joy to eat. But like all pastries you have to pay attention to the rules about rolling out the dough and shaping it right. You also have to get the spice mixture right and a topping that goes with rather than fights the pastry. And since this is from scratch, you have no where to hide. The cinnamon roll is unforgiving. Fortunately most of them measure up but the competition was keen.

*Hetal was the real surprise here. She produced a batch that was delicious, evoked memories of India for Gordon (he did a series of shows where he travels through India to learn their food), and got an additional accolade. Gordon thinks she has a future in baking. I think if she plays her cards right she will go far not only on the show but much further.

*Katrina was upset by being in the pressure test. Making it worse was Tommy. Tommy said some rude comments during the preparation time. But Katrina had the last laugh. Tommy really dislikes her and likely we will see more of it.

*Both Katrina and Olivia passed muster with the judges with some minor criticisms here and there. They were not in danger of going home.

*Tommy. Where to begin with this guy? Well he reminds one of that guy a few years back that decided that madness came before genius and produced artistic dishes that totally fell flat with the judges. Tommy decided to do the same and produced the most hideous looking cinnamon buns ever on national television. They may have tasted okay, as Gordon noted, but you would not want to ever see those buns in the light of day. I think they would make a splendid Haunted House scary meal dish.

*Alas poor Darah. She really messed it up big time. The anise overpowered the buns and worse, they were raw. There was nothing good to say about these buns and so she got the chop in the end leaving Tommy to muse as he walked back that Katrina was still in the game.

*This episode showed us a lot of things. Leading a kitchen brigade requires communication and the ability to watch how things are going. You have to be organized otherwise customers ending up waiting too long for food or miscues end up with dishes not done right.

Next week: Crabs. How will they deal with live crabs? Never show fear and watch out for the pincers. They are not giant mutant crabs! 🙂