Masterchef US Season 6: The Top Three

MasterChef_Logo_&_Wordmark.svgLast week saw the departure of Katrina but this recent episode ended Nick’s time on the show. It was sad to see him go but understandable why he was sent home. With four left the pressure to find the best is really on and the pressure is undeniably overwhelming. They had three boxes filled with the judge’s favorite ingredients. Christina’s box was put to the side. An ominous sign that the combined elimination and dreaded pressure test would be very painful indeed.

Nick chose Claudia as his partner leaving Derrick and Stephen together. While they had their problems (like Derrick putting pomegranate seeds in the appetizer) they got the win. What was frustrating to watch was two normally very good cooks produce such mediocre food. They tried for a crab broth but with an hour there was no way to get that done in time to do it justice. The resulting Italian crab cakes were okay but did not scream Masterchef worthy dish. Claudia made the dumbest mistake of all by telling Nick to put the salmon skin side down on the kale. All that crispness was destroyed by its watery bath on the kale. And Graham said it was a salmon prophylactic (Christiana looked appalled when she heard it). Hard to believe two normally fierce and dependable cooks ended up in this pressure test.

It was no ordinary one either and no place to hide. Having to replicate one of the Christina’s most complicated six part chocolate cake normally takes months to master correctly. They had one hour. Even Gordon appeared shocked at the challenge. Neither of them completely mastered it though Claudia managed to make it lighter in texture than Christina’s (which she liked). But she failed on the presentation. Nick got the presentation right but something was terribly amiss inside. This is where chemistry comes into play. Back in high school I often wondered how chemistry would be of any concern to me after I graduated. It does, just not in ways expected. Baking is one place where understanding how things work together (or not) makes all the difference between a good cake and a poorly done one. Ratios and ingredients have to be balanced precisely. If you mess up those ratios, it screws up the chemical reaction resulting in something different.

And Nick made that mistake. Instead of asking Claudia for some ingredients, he changed the recipe slightly. Remember these judges know exactly how the cake is supposed to taste. Christina said something was off and Gordon got Nick to admit he had altered the recipe for the missing ingredients. And this resulted in a sweeter cake. Since chocolate is the main ingredient (in different forms), you have to balance it right so the sweetness does not overwhelm. So in the end while Claudia’s cake was not that good visually, it was good on the inside. Claudia moves on while Nick leaves. I expect though he will set up his gastro pub and that is a place I want to go. He will probably consult with Gordon for tips and advice. He may be off the show but he is not done in the cooking world.

Three are left: Claudia, Derrick and Stephen. I still think Derrick is the weakest of the three. I think this could come to Claudia and Stephen. At any rate the finale is this week and the winner will soon be revealed.