MasterChef(21Aug2013):Cooking In Wolfgang Puck’s Restaurant, Learning How To Steam Dumplings, and Calamari

Wok Cooking
The most common cooking utensil in China.

*Down to the final six. And strangely they are all standing up on a roof waiting for MasterChef 1 carrying the Culinary Trio to arrive. Visually stunning but rather pointless. Wait! There are only five standing there. Turns out Krissi has a fear of heights and could not stand there (she is on the stairs nearby). The teams are quickly sorted out between Natasha (blue) and Bri (Red). Natasha selects Jessie and Luca. Bri has James and Krissi.

*Once again it is time for the grueling restaurant takeover. This is where our aspiring winners must pass through a trial by fire by working a real restaurant cooking their signature dishes. And since this restaurant is Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant WP 24, the dishes are going to be Asian. Krissi is uncomfortable with Asian food.

*The appetizers soar out of Team Bri while Team Red seems stuck in funk. Now time for a lesson in cooking science. Some steamed appetizers came back undercooked. Turns out Luca put cold water in the steamer! When you add cold water into hot water, it lowers the temperature explaining the undercooked dumplings. There is a word Red used on That 70’s Show that says it all. You get the picture. It was pretty dumb.

*Gordon Ramsay is the expediter and Joe is doing front of the house. Graham seems to be hanging around watching the cooking. Team Natasha gets it together and is whipping out the entrees while Krissi on Team Bri is having major issues. She cannot recall how to do the prawn dish right, flubs up, and looses confidence in herself. Their delay is costly as people are waiting over an hour and half for their food. Some walk out. Graham steps in and starts getting Krissi focused. The entrees started going out. Reviews are good for Team Natasha, not so good for Team Bri. In the end both completed the service but had to wait till the next day to find out who won.

*Team Natasha is the winner and safe heading up to the balcony. They are now in the top five.

*Bri, Krissi, and James are left to make fried calamari with marinara sauce. Now I have never given much thought to its preparation since I get it at a restaurant. You have to clean and slice the squids, prepare a batter, fry them in oil but carefully so they do not overcook (or undercook), and prepare a good marinara sauce. Which means taking apart the canned tomatoes, straining them, making them into sauce using extra virgin olive oil, garlic and other spices. So it is a considerable amount of work to be done.

*Bri and James do well in breaking down the squids.

witch hat*Krissi has the most trouble in breaking down the squids. Graham says her anger is making it harder. And she gets comments from above triggering an angry response from her (using rude words and trying to fling sauce at them). Such behavior gets no rebuke from Gordon, Graham or Joe (if there was it was not shown).

*Bri has her oil too hot so it cooks the outside but not inside. Plus it does not look good. Inexplicably she adds lemon to the marinara. As Joe points out, it, the dish is already acidic with the tomatoes. While not said, it can result in off flavors. Krissi’s look like onion rings says Gordon. I like onion rings but not for fried calamari. Her sauce is decent. That takes us to James. For reasons even he cannot explain, he did nothing with the marinara other than tomatoes and a few spices. No extra virgin olive oil. It tastes off, says Gordon. But Gordon is disappointed with all three saying they all should go home. James though is spared leaving Bri and Krissi on the bottom.

*At this point the decision ought to be not who was the worst but who is worth saving. Neither dish passed muster and it is entirely possible both could go home.

*Krissi gets another pass while Bri heads home. Now on one hand it is perfectly justified *if* you are judging on whose dish was the worst. Her calamari were undercooked. Krissi was not undercooked but not executed right either. At this point I would think is who of those two do you want potentially as a top four, top two, or even winning. In that scenario, Bri ought to have been saved and Krissi sent home. Krissi also did poorly in the restaurant challenge. I understand why they sent Bri home but they ought to have thought who best of the two to save. Joe defends the decision on his blog at People but I will not be surprised if we learn later Bri went so Krissi could hang around longer. Krissi vs Natasha, the two mean girls of the show, is perhaps at play. Krissi said in a previous episode she sees Natasha as another her.  Natasha is not so different. She is just as nasty about other people as Krissi is but does not not cackle or gloat like Krissi. She is also the better chef of the two.

Update (25 Aug 2013:
Below is the extended version of the debate over the three calamari dishes presented. It is pretty clear they were not pleased with any of them. Also I was right about the lemon-it did give an awful flavor to Bri’s sauce.