It is all over now as season five of MasterChef (US) has come to an end with Courtney declared the winner. This season possibly saw the two best matched contenders for the title. Both are exceptional in presentation and technique and rarely made mistakes. Elizabeth set a record for this season (and perhaps the entire series this far) as never being in a pressure test. Personally I think Elizabeth is the more talented of the two and in the long run it will be interesting to see who has a more successful culinary career. Both ought to do well but Elizabeth might very well surpass Courtney in the end. As for Courtney, no more dancing in a gentleman’s club for her. She can give those glamorous heels a rest for a while.
This season fared well for not having a real villain as in past seasons. Last year there was Krissi, an odious person who really ought never ought to have been there. Leslie might have been a villain considering how he grated on people early, especially Ahran. Instead of getting worse he managed to bring it under control. He and Ahran became friends later on. However he was not shy about those he really disliked: Cutter and Daniel. Daniel he saw as untrustworthy and a pretender. And Cutter was in his own zone often unable to do tasks asked of him. Leslie got rattled though when under pressure (like at Dinah’s) and goofed up as well. Leslie though was determined and never really gave up. And had he not screwed up substituting salt for sugar in the pressure test against Courtney, he likely would have been up against Elizabeth. Gordon is right: the culinary world is not just for the young but for the seasoned as well. Julia Child would concur on that sentiment
Missing this season were the preliminary rounds where we see them audition before the judges. We often saw what they cooked to impress the judges to give them the first apron. And we also saw a fair amount of those who brought dishes that fell well below the standards being sought. The reason was probably scheduling. So they did not show the preliminary rounds and went straight to the top thirty and the final cut for the MasterChef competition. It made the season move much quicker. The challenges were as usual though with the twists and turns we have come to accept. No big stars stopped by a lot of culinary stars did in the semifinal where fifty chefs showed up. Many of them had shows on Food Network like Cat Cora or Duff Goldman. Too bad Mario Batali did not make an appearance but then he likely still is on contract with Food Network. We also saw Gordon’s wife Tana in the Valentine’s Day episode. In both his UK and US Kitchen Nightmares show he often as to be away on that day or Mother’s Day.
The formula for the show has remained more or less the same. They start with a very large group then whittle it down to a manageable size (about twenty) for the final competition. Each episode has two challenges (mystery box and elimination challenge) or a field challenge in which the losing team faces the dreaded pressure test. Always someone goes home but on occasion it is two that go home. Judges are impressed with creativity, passion, flavor, and taste. They absolutely dislike dishes that are too simple, below MasterChef quality, completely disregard culinary rules, or are just absurd (like Tali’s crab dish that Graham called a horror show in season three). It infuriates them when someone they know is talented produces a bad dish.
They try to mix up the challenges but I humbly suggest they have used up the army and marines for food challenges! Head down to San Diego where the navy has ships and personnel. Believe me officers and crew on ships would love to be part of a Masterchef challenge. It is also likely that next year they will tie in (like the did with Glee) with another Fox show. I hope it is Sleepy Hollow! Make that a spooky themed episode with Headless delivering the winner. Okay that might be over the top but you get the point.
So we put this season into the done column with Courtney the winner for season five. Now we wait until next summer when we see a whole new crop of aspiring amateur chefs wanting to prove to Gordon, Graham, and Joe they are the best in the country. They just have to prove it with every dish they make. No pressure at all.
I was highly critical of the pressure test required making truffles. I wrote that very few people make them at home and even doubted the Masterchef judges could cook them. Well I was wrong on that last part (somewhat). It appears Gordon Ramsay does know how to make them by hand. Here are two YouTube cooking lessons where he is showing his kids how to make chocolate mint truffles for Christmas Day.