Masterchef US: Season 6, Episode 11: The Beef and The Tart


Ten cheftestants walk across a wide plain and meet the judges coming towards them in a truck driven by Christina. They have to cook for 101 cowboys and steak is for lunch. Hetal and Katrina pick each the others team and face off in a Western showdown. But Hetal’s team underwhelms sending them to the dreaded pressure test where they have to make a fruit tart.

This episode raises the question whether a vegetarian can lead a team to victory when the primary protein is meat. Not just any meat but cow is taboo for Hindus. How can one properly know if the dish is done right if you cannot taste it? You have to rely on what other people are telling you and that puts you at a disadvantage. For instance choosing which cut of beef to cook. Amazingly Hetal’s team (Olivia, Stephen, Shelly and Christopher)goes for the hangar steak leaving the strip for Katrina’s team(Claudia, Derrick, Tommy and Nick).

Both teams made the mistake of trying initially being fancy. These are cowboys (a generic term that also includes women these days). Cowboys are not sitting down to a fancy feast! They want a good meal and not something too upscale or fancy. Hetal’s team falls behind while Katrina’s cranks out the food. In the end the cowboys brand a wall red or blue as to which dish they liked. While Katrina’s team celebrates the win, Hetal’s team has to clean up both kitchens and face the dreaded pressure test.

Bake Me A Fruit Tart
Ah the fruit tart. A wonderful thing to behold unless you are cooking it in a timed competition with no room for error. Olivia gets a pass getting selected by the other team for the save putting Christopher, Hetal, Shelly, and Stephen into thunderdoom.*

The Scream (Edward Munch, 1893) Public Domain
The Scream (Edward Munch, 1893)
Public Domain

The Stephen Zone
I always thought Stephen was wound up kind of tight and this pressure test proved it. Reminded me of the famous scene in Network(1976)where Albert Finney’s character loses it. When he takes out his tart and sees the pastry is not quite right, he screams and ends up crying in the nearby pantry area. And during the test, when Gordon talks to him it is clear the pressure has really gotten to him. Straight jacket standing by!

Tart Imperfection
No one aced this pressure test but no one did so bad as to be tagged as the one being sent home. Hetal and Shelly were deemed the best two and saved. Which brings us to another…

Head Fake
Christopher and Stephen are in the bottom. Both had faults with their tarts: too much cream, a crust that could have been better, saggy presentation etc. Usually the judges are good about deciding who goes home. It looks for a moment that both will go home then Gordon calls a conference with the other judges resulting in a no decision. A no decision? They are both tied and they cannot make up their minds. Pardon me for not believing that for one minute. They have made decisions when there was only a slight technical issue. Obviously they did not want to send either home today so the top ten remains the top ten for another week. But that means next time it will be a double elimination.

  • Bits & Pieces
    Liked Shelly’s comments about Hetal’s team. She gives Nick away to the other team, does not eat meat, and gets Olivia who probably eats salads. So what kind of plan do we have?
  • Hetal’s comments as to who she sent to the other team was illuminating.
  • Derrick had a meltdown of his own while they were serving and Katrina had to give him a time out. Katrina knew how to handle her team while Hetal seemed unfocused.
  • Is it me or did Christina seem not so happy about driving the truck so the guys could stand up there looking quite pleased with themselves?

*Thunderdoom seems more appropriate then Thunderdome, an ampitheater of death in a Mad Max movie.