Tag Archives: Josh Marks

MasterChef Junior: Whipping It Good

Photo: Wikipedia

There is an old Devo song called Whip It that comes to mind when you see this episode. The best way to understand this episode is that part 1 is vaudeville and part 2 is the actual competition. In part 1, the winners last week face off to make whipped cream the old fashioned way-by hand. Then we have the top 10 broken up into teams of two to cook Gordon Ramsay’s famous beef wellington. Yes, this is the same dish that bedevils many on Hell’s Kitchen (risotto being the other).

Vaudeville Act
Step up to see three Masterchef Junior winners attempt to make whipped cream. You just pour the cream into the bowl and whip it, whip it good. Nothing else to do but that. All right, ready, set go! Watch those arms go around and around those bowls. Look at all that cream going all over the place! What a mess. Little Sarah is yelling on the sidelines “C’mon Gavin! Whip it, whip it like a man!” The crowd is really getting into this as Alexander, Gavin, and Kaylen frantically stir.

Oh there is Alexander raising his whip and saying “Whipped!” The other two sadly must stop. But hold on folks, there is more to come. Yes, we are not just going to have the judges spoon up the whipped cream. The bowls will be turned upside down on the heads of the judges themselves. Here is the opportunity for you, America, to see these MasterChef judges possibly get drenched in underdone whipped cream. Alexander bravely steps up behind Graham, who has suddenly become a praying man. The bowl turns! Alexander did it right, no splatter on Graham Elliot’s head.

Gavin now raises his bowl above Joe “The Stare” Bastianich. Oh no folks, it looks like a Gavin did not get it right. My goodness,look at all that cream on Joe’s face and clothes. Joe looks very unhappy. Meanwhile Gordon awaits his fate. Will Kaylen’s whipped cream stay put or go all over the foul mouthed Brit. The bowl turns over and….

Oh dear. It seems Kaylen did not do very well at all. It is nearly all cream coming out covering Gordon causing him to utter a very rude word! Fortunately he recovers with saying sugar repeatedly. Alexander, possibly on cue from the director, taps his bowl on Graham’s head. Food fight! When it is all over, the judges retire to clean themselves up and a clean up crew must come in to remove the mess and set up for the next challenge.

Beef Wellington
Photo: Wikipedia

The Great Beef Wellington Challenge
Having won the challenge, Alexander gets to pick the 5 teams that will cook in the next challenge. And that challenge is to recreate Gordon Ramsay’s signature dish: Beef Wellington. Dispense with the easy stuff and go right to the toughest thing to do. So many things to be done right, so many ingredients. Done well, a work of culinary art. Done badly it is a disaster. The ghost of Lord Wellington (hero of the Peninsular War against Napoleon) is probably watching to see if his namesake food can be done right.

Ah but there is of course a catch. They are cooking in teams but it is a tag-team cooking challenge. One person cooking, the other standing outside yelling tips or getting upset. So many ways it can can go wrong. They get to taste a proper Beef Wellington so they know the flavor profile. The question is can these kids accomplish what so many find hard to do and get right (especially on Hell’s Kitchen)? All the ingredients needed are provided for so they do not need to spend any time in the pantry. With that, the clock starts ticking down and the kids all start working feverishly.

Alexander & Troy produced a Wellington worthy of Gordon Ramsay.  A home run.
Sarah & Dara produce one just as good, possibly better than Alexander and Troy. Sarah had a frightening moment when taking the pan out of the oven when she dropped the pan on the floor. Fortunately it did not effect the Beef Wellington. A home run as well. Joe did make a comment about back of the house that people do not see. The health inspectors probably are on their way to his restaurant after what he said (in jest, we assume).
Kaylen & Jack had some problems with the puffed pastry. The broccolini overcooked and the beef did as well since the mushrooms were not there to provide moisture. A foul ball but just short of a complete out.
Sofia & Gavin did a good job, though not quite as good as the top two. The puff pastry could have been thinner but the flavors are all correct. A double.
Jewels & Roen have serious problems with the dish. While Jewels says she went light on the salt, it turns out to be very salty due to the mustard not being put on right after searing the steak. It ends up making it more salty. Gordon is very disappointed. A strikeout to be sure.

So the bottom two are Kaylen & Jack, Jewels & Roen. There is a rule on these food shows (see my rules here) that if you over salt the dish, odds are you are going home. And that is what happened to Jewels & Roen.

My thoughts
Not a bad episode. I did think they overdid it on the whipped cream part. They ought to have let the other two finish before they tested the results. Having them do the testing on the judge’s heads was interesting but went a bit too far in my book. The Beef Wellington task really showed both strengths and weaknesses. It also has raised questions on the Internet was to whether these kids are actors, being coached, or the real thing. We know on Hell’s Kitchen they put people on just to fill space and to cause friction. Did that happen here? There is no evidence of that but it is right to ask how these kids can produce pretty good renditions of a difficult dish they have (we presume) never done before. So I have to keep the skeptic hat on. I am not totally convinced these kids are true amateurs but they are not pros either since they do make mistakes.

The most recent numbers provided by TV By The Numbers show this last episode(11 Oct 2013) got just enough winners to beat out ABC’s Last Man Standing and CBS Undercover Boss. It was actually close in terms of ratings points:

FOX     MasterChef Jr         1.4     5     3.78
CBS     Undercover Boss     1.3     5     7.82
ABC     Last Man Standing    1.2     5     5.86

That last number on the right shows how many millions watched live and watched the same day on their Tivo or other dvrs. Which means, if the numbers are right, more people watched MasterChef Junior live than the others. I happen to be one of those people. I record Last Man Standing and watch it usually after MasterChef (I actually record both but watch MasterChef live). Undercover Boss had more viewers when you include in those who recorded and watched later but loses when you remove that factor and only include those who watched live.

A Sad Note About Josh Marks
As I finished writing this, news came that Josh Marks of MasterChef season 3 (who left and then came back ending up facing Christine Ha in the finale) had been found dead. And it appears he took his own life. This is a very sad outcome of someone so talented and destined, I think, for a long career in the food business. He apparently suffered from a bi-polar disorder which likely caused an incident that led to his arrest over the summer. He was undergoing required medical evaluations. This sad outcome is no doubt devastating to his family and friends. My heart, condolences, and prayers are with them in this time of sorrow. He was a good fellow who had a good heart. RIP Josh Marks.

MasterChef-Sunny Eggs and Second Chances(8 Aug 2013)

sunny side up egg

*This episode had no mention of Walmart.

*The cheftestants were likely told they would not be cooking since they wore clothes suitable for dining than cooking.

*Unlike last year, each judge selected one person to come back and compete for the apron. Bri (Gordon),Bime (Graham), and Lynn(Joe). All three had reactions from The Six. Lynn was most feared while Bri and Bime got rolled eyes and the usual “they do not belong” here type of retorts. And oh yes, Krissi was upset too.

*Eggs and lots of them. Now remember this is reality television and they control what we see. Not all those eggs were real but food decoratives. They selected from the areas where the real eggs were. And no mention they came from Walmart!

*The challenge was straight forward: cook us as many sunny side up eggs in fifteen minutes. MasterChief provided the pans, stove, butter, and oil. Of course the eggs have to be perfect. And each challenger had one hundred plates to use.

*Bime seemed the most organized, Lynn the most stressed, and Bri made good use of her time.

*I understand why they trashed those eggs but all those plates? Hopefully they were imperfect lots that were bought cheaply.

*Hens all over America were outraged at the egg wastage. So many eggs tossed away, only a few good ones cooked. PETA will not doubt lodge a protest.

*Lynn proved why he fizzled out in his Epic Fail. He cannot handle stress very well.

*The Six retire to the restaurant and with Joe to await being served. Which took an hour. What did they do for that entire hour? Just sit there with Joe and wait for the food to be served? I would hope they could whip out iPods and listen to music or catch up on some reading until they were needed.

*Bri and Bime each got a whole king salmon. What a treat! Unfortunately they had to take it apart to make seven entrees (pan fried) that included asparagus, potatoes, and Hollandaise sauce.

*The vote was an even three for Bime and Bri. That was unexpected but the reason Joe was part of the tasting (and did not see who cooked each plate). The seventh person would be the tie-breaker if it occurred. It did and Bri made it back. Congratulations Bri!

Final Thoughts
Eggs. I like eggs but I have to admit after watching all those eggs I could not eat one the next day. I would not want to ever cook so many eggs under that time pressure. Not surprised Lynn flamed out and neither was Joe from his blog posting at people. I would have brought back Eddie instead. Eddie, Lynn, Bri or Bethy would have been a better challenge. Bime had his moments but he was a poor team leader and totally mixed up tartar sauce and cornstarch turning his not-lemon meringue into something used on horror movie set. Still the fact the Bri won means more pressure on the others. And next week promises to turn the heat on even more.

Update on Josh Marks
From all news reports, he was put under psychiatric observation. TMZ reported that in a promo for a group he works with that he admitted he was bi-polar. His rambling and incoherent statements when he was arrested point to someone with a problem. But the legal system is not so forgiving on such things. He faces real serious jail time unless some deal is worked out.

Ratings Update(9 Aug 2013)
Deadline Hollywood is reporting that ratings for MasterChef fell 4% from last week. However the show was still the second-highest-rated show of the night. The highest rating was the results show for America’s Got Talent.


MasterChef 31Jul 2013: Family, Sushi, and Luca Aims Wrong

Hiroshige Bowl of Sushi
Photo: Wikipedia

After last weeks adventure in the outdoors, it is back to the MasterChef kitchen for the next Mystery Box challenge. But under the giant box are family members waiting to see their loved ones. It actually was quite touching for our remaining cheftestants. Krissi’s son could not be there in person due to tests but did tape a message which broke Krissi into tears. The challenge was to make food that reminded you of family and of course make it special for MasterChef. From what we saw during the walk arounds, they all seemed to be doing some fine work. In the end it came down to Natasha, Jessi, and Luca. All three dishes were considered excellent but Luca got the edge so off to the pantry he goes.

Sushi Chefs

I have to think one of the most difficult challenges MasterChef throws is sushi. It looks simple but requires a lot of finesse and technique to get it right. There is not any room for error. Now the twist is that, like last year, it will be done by teams of two. Not at the same time, that would be too easy! Once again it is a tag team challenge where one member does work and the other stands by offering tips, advice, or begins planning their escape to a distant tropical island. Luca pairs Natasha and Krissi together since he does not like Natasha (and she not liking him much either). Surprisingly he puts James and Jordan together, two strong contenders you normally would not want paired up. I suspect he was recalling Eddie’s tactic of giving them both fresh mushrooms and how it really hurt them by being overconfident. Eddie and Jessi are paired.

Luca Shots Arrow, Misses Target

Luca wanted to get Natasha and he hoped pairing her with Krissi would lead to problems (neither likes the other). Instead the two work together rather than against the other. Krissi decides to listen to Natasha (the more skilled in this regard) and do the needed chopping and rice. So instead of friction, they work as a team likely to throw serious mud right back in Luca’s face. And it worked since they nearly recreated the original dish (though with just seconds to spare). The judges praised their dish.

Alas once again you see the overconfidence of James and Jordan. Jordan at one point starts washing the uni driving Gordon mad at seeing all that flavor being washed away. They present a dish that while has mostly good knife skills and is bland (no seasoning in the rice and much too little elsewhere). Worse the two laugh it off enraging Gordon who says they remind him of teenagers. Luca got it right here. Unfortunately his arrow did not get Natasha or this un-dynamic duo but hit Eddie squarely on the chest.

The dish Eddie and Jessi submit is not great, bad knife skills, and over seasoned with vinegar. Joe asks if they are 50-50 responsible. They say yes but Joe does not believe it. He challenges Eddie, who claimed to eat sushi twice a week, to eat something with him. Eddie declined and that pretty much sealed his fate. Natasha and Krissi are safe, the Un-Dynamic Duo is just saved by their knife skills, and Eddie and Jessi are on the bottom. Eddie is sent home ending a remarkable journey on MasterChef. He clearly has the chops to make it on his own and I hope he gets some mentoring in a real kitchen. I am really disappointed as I pegged him as being in the top four and possibly top two. His demise is once again a reminder how easy it is too trip up and go home.

The Final Six Or Not?
As this episode ends, the final six are James, Jessi, Jordan, Krissi, Luca, and Natasha. But the MasterChef promo for next week shows that last year was not a fluke. They plan to bring back several recent eliminations (last year they brought back all but the first two to be eliminated) so they can battle it out to regain the apron. Last year it brought back Josh (who had been eliminated in the egg pressure test)back into the competition and he made it into the finale against Christine. So it looks like the Final Six will be short lived as one of their competitors makes it back. And it could be someone that Krissi targeted could be back to haunt her. Personally it would be great to see Lynn or Eddie back.

Final Thoughts
This was a good episode and convinced me that Natasha is one of the top four. Krissi, who I am not a fan of, managed to hold her tongue and put her head down to work with Natasha for the win. Luca, who I thought was heading out the door, managed to show he still belongs on the show. I still doubt he will win the trophy but he is going to give it his all. It was sad to see Eddie go. I think this guy has tremendous talent and had he not fallen probably in the top four. Jordan and James really came off badly proving what Eddie surmised early on: both these guys try to complicate their dishes and end up looking foolish for it. Fortunately for them, Eddie and Jessi did far worse. It was close, I think, since neither Eddie/Jessi or James/Jordan really did well. Then again if Eddie wins back a spot in the competition next week, his exit might be short lived.

And Luca, when aiming arrow be sure to understand your target. You botched it when it came to Natasha. She is more stronger now. You did manage to send Eddie home but now the bullseye on your back from Krissi and Natasha make it likely you will go home soon.

Some Disturbing News About Josh Marks
Last night the news broke that MasterChef season 3 finalist Josh Marks had been arrested for assaulting a police officer and taking a weapon. According to TMZ:

As we reported, 26-year-old 7-foot-2 Marks was arrested by University of Chicago police Monday after allegedly punching a cop and trying to grab his gun. 3 officers tried to subdue Marks with batons and pepper spray, but he broke free and took off running.  It eventually took 5 officers to chase him down and handcuff him. Once in custody, cops claim Marks blamed Gordon Ramsay for his outburst, claiming the celeb chef had possessed him and turned him into God. We’re told there was no evidence of drug use.

His family issued a statement on the incident:

“We are working closely with medical professionals to determine if Josh’s behavior could be related to mental health symptoms. Our primary concern is Josh, his health, well being and getting him proper treatment. Josh is an amazing, gentle and talented young man. He comes from a very close knit family; is a cum laude college graduate and very involved in the community. His family is at his side to give him any support that he needs right now.”

This is a very disturbing turn of events for Josh. Obviously something is very wrong and possibly a mental breakdown or stress of some kind (one former contestant speculates he is bi-polar but I agree with Braiser, the guy is a idiot for saying it). What it is I have not a clue but this kind of behavior is not normal. I hope others join with me and giving Josh and his family all the support they need during this time. Hopefully whatever caused this can be treated and Josh will go on. Hopefully his attorney can work out a deal with prosecutors so he gets the treatment he likely needs rather than sitting out 14 years in jail.