Masterchef:The Case of the Purloined Ramekins

Photo: Public Domain
Photo: Public Domain

*It is week 6 of Masterchef (US). 16 contestants remain after Jordan was eliminated last week.

*Graham says the cheftestants have been through a lot already, it is just getting started.

*This was a real Mystery Box challenge for when they lifted up the box, it revealed cans without any labels at all. 52 of them to be precise of various shapes, sizes, and contents. A limited pantry was provided and they could use as many ingredients from the cans but at least one ingredient in the dish presented had to be from a can. So our brave home cooks begin opening cans to decide what they will make. A real test of ingenuity here. Sadly Jaimee has no clue what to cook and decides too late on a soup. Francis L takes the juices from each of the cans and decides to use them in his dish. Bold or reckless?

*Elizabeth gets called up, a first for her. The dish she presents is a Borscht. Now that takes courage to present it. And the judges love the dish. Victoria used potted meat and made fritters. It got compliments as well and a slight complaint the fritters were a little to large. Ahran used only canned fruit salad and used it with a sponge cake. I must say it looked good and judging by the way Joe was eating it up, delicious as well. High marks as well. The winner was Elizabeth.

*Returning Chefs In The House!
Luca Manfe, who won last seasons title of  Masterchef, is back and has his signature dish under a cloche. He has been busy with his catering company, setting up a restaurant in Brooklyn, and soon to be a father! His cookbook is out as well. But he is not the only returning winner in the house today. Alexander, who is the first winner of Junior Masterchef, also has his signature dish under a cloche. Elizabeth is going to choose who cooks what. But unlike last season where they decide in the pantry, she has to make her decision in front of the other contenders. Luca has a pancetta wrapped veal while Alexander has a passion fruit panna cotta.

*Elizabeth gets strategic and makes Cutter (who has bearish hands!), Christian, Jaimee, Ahran, Francis B, Victoria, and Tyler cook Alexander’s dish. Everyone else cooks Luca’s dish. The cheftestants taste the dish they will recreate and off they go!

*Willie goes an odd route. He decides to cook his veal twice. He sears it first, then wraps it in bacon, and then puts it in the oven. Gordon cannot believe it warning the veal will be dry. Luca would not do it that way either but Willie thinks it will work. Luca says (repeating Gordon) you have to walk first before you run. Meaning you need to master the basics before attempting a complicated dish like twice cooked veal with pancetta!

*Panna cotta is tricky and requires time. They have to set and need time in a blast chiller. Jaimee finds two of her ramekins are missing and wonders if someone took them.

Courtney brings up a delicious recreation of Luca’s dish. The judges all rave about it. Elizabeth hoped Courtney would fail but this was a miss. Note that the director constantly focuses on Courtney’s very glittering shoes during the show. Willie’s dish, not unexpectedly, is not well received. As predicted it is dry and Gordon comments unless someone has a worse dish, he is going home. Cutter’s dish turns out better than expected, another miss for Elizabeth. However Christian did a poor job. Jamiee’s dish looks bad as the panna cotta collapsed and more of a pudding. It is still good but she is not looking good.

*The Case of the Purloined Ramekins
Tyler brings up his panna cotta, which did not set up well. Tyler says they ought to wear blindfolds. But Gordon makes a startling announcement that for the first time someone brought up a dish they did not cook. Tyler is shocked and Gordon walks back to the food area and brings out a tray of four ramekins from the blast chiller. They are Tyler’s. He thought he had put them on the top shelf, but that is where Jaimee put hers. Wow! Tyler says it was an accident and apologizes. Gordon believes him. Tyler was in a rush and grabbed the ramekins without looking. But the rule is they can only judge what you actually cook. And the result is a sad one. Tyler has to leave the show. Tyler accepts the decision, apologizes to the judges, and Jaimee. It was a sad departure and the only ones to benefit by it were Willie, Christian, and Jaimee who likely would have been in the bottom three. Tyler and Big Willie hug before he walks out of the kitchen. Courtney is proclaimed the winner and it looks like next week is the infamous team challenge.

My 2¢
Wow, what an episode. It was intense right from the start. You have 52 cans in front of you, none with any labels. Do you open them all or just a few? You have vegetables, fruits, olives, potted meat. Spam (or one of its competitors) was there as well as Willie was cooking with it. So it takes some quick thinking and ingenuity to make an acceptable dish from a can. Ahran said they had no cans at home, that everything was fresh. Possible but I suspect there is a can of something in her parent’s pantry. 90% or more people in America probably at least have a can of fruit, vegetables, potted meat, or evaporated milk in their cupboard. I have diced tomatoes, beans, corn, potted meat, Spam, sardines and evaporated milk in mine.

And some of the dishes presented showed serious cooking skills. A borscht, potted meat fritters, and sponge cake with canned fruit and whipped cream were the top three. Willie did a play on eggs benedict with spam, eggs, and english muffin. In many ways, this episode really showed who has serious cooking chops. Having them recreate the signature dishes of Luca and Alexander was a nice touch as well. It forced them to cook upscale and Willie, I am sad to say, took a real tumble here. He has little experience in upscale cooking and that could prove a problem down the line. Absent from any mention except the occasional screenshot was Leslie. We did not see how his dishes were judged nor any commentary from him.

Tyler mistake though is what many will remember from this show. We have seen many exits over the years. Some were well deserved and some were close calls between two very good dishes. This was a stunner because no one before has made this mistake of accidently taking someone else’s dish and presenting as their own. It is no surprise the judges knew about it. There was a behind the scenes guided tour I watched a season or so ago at the Masterchef site. Gordon showed how just about everyplace in that kitchen is wired for sound and visual recording. So obviously one of Masterchefs production staff noticed Tyler taking the wrong ramekins out of the blast chiller. And they notified Gordon and showed him the recording. Some might argue they ought to have given him a chance to correct his mistake. That would open up a whole can of worms if they start doing that (it could lead to accusations they try to fix outcomes).

It was truly sad to see Tyler go. The only ones that benefited from it were Willie and Christian who had poor dishes. Thankfully for them the angel of death did not lower its scythe on either of them. Tyler accepted what he did wrong and the decision that resulted from it. His apology to both the judges and Jaimee was sincere. Now the show moves on on and it appears next week the infamous tag team cooking competition will be the headline. And with Courtney in the drivers seat as to who those teams will be, no doubt she will dish some delightful revenge. It appears from the promo that Ahran and Leslie might be partnered up. Yikes! A match made in hell.

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