Masterchef:Apples and Dim Sum

Dim sum breakfast in Hong Kong. Photo: Public Domain
Dim sum breakfast in Hong Kong.
Photo: Public Domain

We are down to the final seven after Daniel was sent home last week. It does not seem so long ago when there were thirty finalists standing in the Masterchef kitchen. It is no surprise that Courtney, Elizabeth, Christian or Big Willie are still there. Leslie and Jaimee are not a surprise either, but The Cutter Zone is. Never thought he would make it this far. He has had some bad outcomes but shockingly others did worse paving his way into the final seven. But this episode not only saw apples being used for savory dishes but a tag teamed competition to cook dim sum that sent another popular cheftestant home.

The mystery box awaits but first they get notes from home. Real notes they can read that hopefully inspire them to go on. And the mystery box has lots of apples, so many that they fall to the floor for dramatic effect (I pity the poor staff people that have to clean them up). But they are not for dessert but for a savory dish. That keeps the show from being predictable and forces them all to be creative. The three top dishes all used pork. Christian had an apple stuffed pork chop with bacon, brussels sprouts, zucchini and red apples. Leslie had an apple stuffed pork loin with bacon and gruyere cheese with apple mashed potatoes. And Courtney had a pork loin stuffed with apple, pancetta, swiss chard with pink lady apple juice sauce and an apple and celeriac salad. A lot going on there. All three dishes were terrific and, to be honest, I would want to eat all three! But since only one can win, Courtney gets the win. Just keep a kitten away from Elizabeth who made a dumb comment about stabbing one if Courtney won.

And for I think the first time in Masterchef history, the judges decide the elimination contest will be to cook five perfectly done dim sum dishes. I love dim sum but I know it is a lot of work to pull off. It is not prepared food unless you buy it so and most good restaurants make it from scratch (frozen dim sum is about as appealing as warm milk on a hot day). Courtney gets the choice of selecting the teams. And her chief targets are Big Willie, Christian, and Elizabeth. Jamiee is good but in her mind beatable as is Leslie. The Cutter Zone is in a world of his own but easy to set up for a fall. Courtney pairs up Christian and Big Willie, Elizabeth and The Cutter Zone, and by default Jaimee and Leslie. And the twist is that this is a tag-team challenge so only one will be cooking/prepping while the other sits out watching the other working.

By putting Christian and Big Willie together, she probably knew they would clash and burn. Meaning while Christian is a decent cook, Willie does not do upscale well. He also works deliberately rather than rushing. Christian yells at him a lot rattling Willie. Jaimee and Leslie are also having problems as well. It looks like they are just not working well either. Elizabeth and The Cutter Zone seem to be humming along and working okay. Ah but looks can be deceiving and in this episode what you think you saw was not exactly as it turned out at all. You would think the worst dish would come from Jaimee and Leslie.

Au contraire! Though they seemed to be out of sync they produced the best dim sum of the challenge. Gordon thought it would be a disaster as did the others. Instead it looked beautiful and tasted great by what the judges said. It was obvious these two were not in any danger of being sent home tonight. Which brings us to Willie and Christian. Burnt pot stickers, rubber balls for dumplings, no sauce for the pork buns, and under seasoned cabbage. Really quite shocking to see it come out this way from two normally strong chefs. Gordon sums it up best and say both do not deserve to continue in this competition. Wow. What a punch in the gut that was to these guys. Elizabeth and Cutter’s was just as bad. Nothing tasted or looked good. Nothing was seasoned. Courtney hit bullseye here. In fact I really thought it would send Cutter home.


But those culinary gods are tricky and mysterious in their ways. If it had been me, I would have dropped one (the worst) from each team. My choices would have been The Cutter Zone and Willie. Not to be though. After sending up Jaimee and Leslie (and the most forced hug ever on the show), they sent up Cutter and Elizabeth. Really? They said by just the smallest margin (like .008) they eke out a save. Christian and Willie now face the angel of death and the scythe of his. I was thinking of the old nursery rhyme:

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers, let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

Or something more ominous like when that demon praying mantis on Buffy:The Vampire Slayer was deciding to mate and then kill either Zander or the other guy before they were rescued.

Sadly Willie is sent home in the end. A really nice guy with a positive attitude. He was liked by just about everyone because, well, he was a nice guy who rarely said anything nasty about anyone. Even Courtney. They sent him home because his time was simply up. Christian is the better upscale cook of the two (and the ego that goes with it). I wish Cutter had been in that spot and sent home. Willie has ten times more ability than Cutter in this competition. Cutter has gotten lucky but that will run out eventually. And next week it looks like Leslie and Cutter are getting into it in another restaurant episode.

So here are my power rankings:
1. Courtney
2. Jaimee (moves up since Elizabeth tumbled this episode)
3. Elizabeth
4. Leslie
5. Christian(moves down due to being in last place)
6. The Cutter Zone

So who do you think will make top four and top two?

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