Season three of Masterchef had perhaps the most unique contestant ever-Christina Ha. Christine is legally blind and during the show needed an assistant to tell her where things were. She ultimately won the title and to this day it is remarkable to go back and see some of the things she pulled off. Like this apple pie. She was flustered and thought she was doomed (in fact it was the guy who decided to put cheddar cheese on top of his pie).
1. Head Fake
Those sly producers and our Culinary Trio seem to love twisting things around and faking people out. When the cheftestants lifted the mystery box this week, they found a whole pigs head! Now last year as part of the offal challenge, they had a sheeps head in the mystery box. Dave Martinez used its tongue for a braised dish that got approval from the judges. So I thought this was something along those lines. Nope! It was just a prop since all the necessary parts (ears, tongue, snout) had been already been prepared for their use. Lynn really impressed the judges with his use of seasoning and won the round.
2. Catfish, Crab, and Christine Ha Too!
In the pantry we learn the guest judge is Christine Ha, who just published her cookbook. Lynn had to choose from three proteins Christine uses in her recipes: chicken, catfish, and crab. But here comes that twist that MasterChef is getting known for. Lynn can select one protein for one person to cook, and the other protein for everyone else. As predicted last week, the other contestants are none too pleased with Krissi and want to smack her down. She gets the catfish while everyone else gets crab. Krissi is not happy with Lynn.
3. Krissi and the Wrath of Joe
By now anyone who watches MasterChef ought to know Joe Bastianich does not suffer fools gladly. He walks over with Graham to see what she is doing with the catfish. He sees her frying it up in a pan and planning to serve it with mashed potatoes. Joe does not like what he sees thinking it is far below the standards of MasterChef. Krissi gets defensive about it leaving Joe to later comment later to Gordon and Graham that it looks like a Sunday leftover dinner. Since catfish is a bottom feeder, you really need to work on its flavor. It is often served with rice and corn bread in the south but mashed potatoes is not common. Mashed sweet potatoes, however, is often used and complements the catfish. When time is up, Krissi is called up right away. The judges are totally underwhelmed by it. Gordon says it looks like a tv dinner. And he finds the skin is still on it, which surprises him since it is like “snake skin.” She says she always leaves it on prompting Gordon to ask whether she is cooking for herself or the judges.
Christine panned her catfish as tasting too earthy and needs more elevated flavor. Graham says it is the $6.99 blue plate special. Joe spits it out and says it tastes like mud. And he also says she is wasting his time and says for him “you’re done.” Joe thanks Lynn for letting him know who is really here to play. Krissi goes back to her station and starts mumbling her fish was okay to the others around her. Joe calls her out challenging her to come down and say it to his face. She shuts up but Krissi got seriously slammed. Lynn hit a bullseye. Her anger colored the cooking choices and her banter with Joe only hardens a lot of attitudes against her.
4. Luca Goes Nuts
Once again we see what happens when someone tries to impress too hard. Luca presents a crab risotto that at first Gordon thinks is a soup. Gordon could not believe it and neither he or Christine are impressed with it. Christine says it is too salty. Turns out he added fish sauce to the risotto (he mentioned this to the camera while prepping) and Joe makes him bring the bottle up. The judges could not have been more disappointed with Luca and it shows. Fish sauce is used in Asian cuisine to add depth and flavoring. Using it in a risotto was just nuts and so he ends up in the bottom with Krissi and Beth. Fortunately for Krissi, she gets spared since the other two are worse but Beth’s raw flour crab cakes sends her home.
5. You are Invited to a Wedding
I often wonder in food reality shows where they find people who want there special event catered by a reality cooking competition. Is there some place you can go to put your name on the list? Apparently the lucky couple are serious foodies so perhaps the producers found them or the foodies did. The plus is that you do not have to pay for catering since the reality show picks up the tab for the food and possibly more. The downside is that you allow the event to be filmed, which means cameras are everywhere. And your guests have to be put on notice they will be on camera for the show. Both Natasha and James won so they are team captains. The teams all get sorted out but, once again, there is a wrinkle.
And the wrinkle is that one person from each team must be dropped. Natasha got Krissi after James picked Luca so she is dumped. James drops Bri despite the fact that last time out Jordan royally screwed up the fish. Natasha runs around like a crazed chicken until Gordon gets her to focus on the task of sending out food. It works and her team sends out the food well ahead of Team James. James is a decent leader but let down by unheated plates and Lynn screwing up badly. He plates dishes poorly but worse is unsanitary when his sweat begins dripping down on the food. Gordon grabs those plates and they have to replate. But Lynn screws up again! He uses the same towel used to wipe sweat off his forehead on the dishes going out! Gordon freaks out again! Team James really falls behind as people are waiting for food. In the end, they snap into gear (thanks to Graham Elliot) and the food goes out. Team Natasha wins and gets the save leaving Team James to face the dreaded pressure test.
6. Even The Cookie Monster Would Have Lost This One
The Culinary Trio decides who will be saved leaving only Lynn and Jonny to face what is to come. And they get to make twelve perfect macaroons. And they all have to fit perfectly in a presentation box. So too thick they will not fit, too thin and they will likely crumble. Your filling must be delicious but not watery. Nor can it be too thick either. Neither of them aced it perfectly. Lynn put the cookies that could not fit on top. Jonny mashed up some of his in the box. Both had good points but Lynn gets the win because at least he presented his cookies and Jonny lost many of them in the box.
MasterChef seems more tricky this year not wanting to get locked into a predictable pattern. Over at CBS, the American Baking Competition while interesting is predictable. You can easily see who is likely to go in the end. Which is why it is not getting great ratings. Too boring and predictable. Krissi got a well deserved kick in the pants; she will no doubt respond in kind given the opportunity. Luca was the most disappointing. The next time Luca ends up in the bottom, it likely will be his last. Possibly the same for Krissi.
Next week: Eva Longoria drops by and possibly an unexpected departure!