Tag Archives: Graham Elliott

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

Are Parents Bad For Letting Kids On Reality TV?

tv cameramanScott Pierce, who covers television for Salt Lake Tribune, criticized MasterChef Junior for using kids. And he warns that using kids in this manner opens them up to being attacked on the Internet. Pierce writes:

It’s a lock that the child contestants on “MasterChef Junior” are going to be subjected to hateful comments if not outright bullying by Internet trolls. And no parents should ever allow their child to put himself or herself in that position. Does it always go horribly wrong? No. But what good parent would take that risk?

His conclusion is that kids do not belong on reality shows. These shows, he argues, puts a lot of pressure on them and even if the show starts out benign, train wrecks can occur.

Given the nature of these competitions, it is usually the case that we see some unpleasant character traits emerge as time goes on. And we also know that reality television skewers what we see through skillful editing and manipulation of the events. MasterChef is no different in that regard. Pierce’s concern (and I share it as well) is that we could see something of the same but with kids. If you have worked with kids, you know some can be brutal at times (not physically but with words). In this case young kids are being asked to produce restaurant quality food to be judged by a trio of judges who, in the normal course of the regular show, really verbally sting those who bring up poor quality food. They tone it down for this show, which I applaud, but it is still a competition and each week two will go home (they have a rule that each night’s competition will end with two leaving).

Even so, kids are going to get hurt when their food sucks or they are told to leave the competition. There is simply no way to sugar coat that bad news. Pierce does have it right: Internet trolls are going to make hay with some of these kids. I doubt parents thought about it deeply but they ought to have. Having seen what these trolls can do, it can really hurt a kid to see themselves targeted on the Internet. And it is possible that some of those cute faces have a nasty side to them as well.

For Fox, getting people to watch is not easy considering what it is up against at 8 p.m. ABC has Last Man Standing, which handily beat out MasterChef Junior in the first half hour last week. And then over at CBS is Undercover Boss (a full hour) which also beat out MasterChef Junior. Now again the believability quotient comes into play. Which is more believable: a show that has the top officer of a company going undercover to see how things operate or a show that has 8-13 year old kids trying to cook restaurant quality food?

Source: Only bad parents let kids go on reality TV(27 Sep 2013, Salt Lake Tribune)