We’re down to 8 more contestants for this season of MasterChef. Those that remain have made big sacrifices to be here at this point; Daniel says he has put everything on the line, including quitting his job in the video game industry.
Tonight they will be cooking in pairs, not teams or solo. And the person picking teams will be…”you”, the judges tell them. They will pick their own partners. “Let the bidding wars begin!” Leslie announces. Everyone wants to be Elizabeth’s partner, which she’s pretty surprised about. Also surprised is Courtney, because no one wants to be her partner! Leslie tries to win over Elizabeth by telling her she can have all creative control over what they prepare, so she says yes. Willie pairs up with Cutter once Elizabeth turns him down. Courtney and Christian will work together, a bit surprising given their past differences. That leaves Jaimee and Daniel for the final pair.
So then, what will they have to cook? Graham tells them a MasterChef has to be many things, but they cannot be…chicken, as one is revealed on a plate under a silver dome. But, Gordon says, each team only gets to cook with one part of the chicken. He starts prepping the bird, cutting away each section with masterful precision. The parts they have to cook with will be chicken wings, chicken legs, chicken breast, and the final cut: the chicken oyster…the little gem of meat tucked under the thigh.
The pairs are picking boxes with their selection of chicken meat completely at random. The two teams with the best dishes will be safe from elimination, the other two will face a pressure test elimination challenge. All teams have 5 minutes in the pantry to get their chicken and shop for other ingredients.
But little do they know that they will not know what chicken part they are shopping for—so they have to shop blindly as the boxes are locked! Leslie is letting Elizabeth lead the way with a plan for a curry dish that should work with 3 of the 4 chicken parts, she believes. Willie wants to do chicken with dumplings but Cutter isn’t sold on that. They seem already at odds about what they are going to cook.
Back to their stations, they finally get to unlock their boxes and see what chicken parts they each received. Cutter and Willie got the chicken breasts – should be the easiest to work with, right? Elizabeth and Leslie have the oysters. Courtney and Chirstian want the legs…and they have them. Daniel didn’t want the wings but that’s what he and Jaimee end up with.
The teams have only 45 minutes to cook their dishes. Courtney and Christian seem to have a good plan to serve their legs. Jaimee and Daniel seem confused with what to do with their wings. Cutter is talking about doing Hollandaise sauce for some asparagus but Gordon isn’t sure about that.
Daniel and Jaimee are doing oven roasted fingerling potatoes, arugula…but leaving their chicken wings on the bone instead of doing something more creative with them, and it doesn’t seem like a restaurant entree dish to Joe. Cutter and Willie are doing chicken and dumplings but Gordon doesn’t think that makes sense with chicken breasts. Why would you put a chicken breast in broth? Meanwhile, Graham is worried Courtney and Christian may not have cooked their chicken through to the bone and raw chicken at this point would be a major issue.
The judges debate the teams’ progress together. Gordon thinks Leslie and Elizabeth are working well together and have something that sounds good with their curry dish. Cutter and Willie aren’t gelling, neither are Daniel and Jaimee. One minute is left to plate their dishes, and the judges don’t want raw chicken!
Time is called, and first up for tasting is Elizabeth and Leslie. They have prepared chicken oysters with roasted carrots and an Indian curry sauce. The curry has a shallot, mushroom and serrano pepper base, Elizabeth explains. The curry is rich, the carrots fabulous, the chicken is cooked well…it’s a dreamy dish. Gordon says it’s delicious, phenomenal, but the smartest move was Leslie sticking to Elizabeth like a magnet.
Jaimee and Daniel are next with their chicken wings basted in sage, served with fingerling potatoes, arugula and carrots. Graham says it’s a great dish but it needed to cook down a little longer. Overall, though, they did a great job with what they were given. Joe says it looksl ike a nice dish – for an airport restaurant! They have made a white wine lemon sauce that’s “very Italiano”…the chicken is crispy, but the dish didn’t blow him away.
Cutter and Willie are next. They have roasted chicken breast with root vegetables and asparagus. The chicken breast is bland. The asparagus still have the butts on. Gordon doesn’t want to see that crap at this point of the competition. He’s not impressed, especially given they most choice cut, the chicken breast, to work with.
Courtney and Christian are last for tasting. They have a braised leg and thigh with white beans, heirloom tomateoes and Brussels sprouts. It’s awesome, Graham says. Christian cooked the chicken, it’s got a nice sear, but Gordon wanted a little more work from them at this point. The seasoning is spot on, but he hates the Brussels sprouts and tomatoes…it’s not a good combination together with the chicken.
All four teams attempted to elevate their chicken parts. Which two teams are headed to the balcony and which two teams have a pressure test to face? The judges huddle to decide.
Daniel and Jaimee are standing apart while the others debate their dishes and choices. Leslie doesn’t want Elizabeth giving away her secrets to the others! The judges have made up their mind, and while it wasn’t an easy decision, but the first team that is safe is Leslie and Elizabeth for easily the best dish of the night. Finally, Leslie doesn’t have to do a pressure test! He’s relieved for sure. The second team that is safe with their very simple, classic dish is Courtney and Christian.
That leaves Willie, Cutter, Jaimee and Daniel to face the pressure test. A dreaded test at that. At least one person is going home. They must put on the black aprons first, and it’s going to work a little differently this time. It’s not just one pressure test, there will be tests!
They will start with four chefs competing in the first challenge, and then whoever wins that one will be safe. Then three will compete in the next test, with one coming out safe. That will leave two for a head-to-head challenge in the final round. Get safe as quick as possible, Gordon says. They just had a chicken challenge, but what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Yep, it turns out that every dish in this series of pressure tests will feature the humble egg.
The first test? They must prepare an egg in a simple fashion: the perfect poached egg. They only get one egg to do it right, too, so it’s one poached egg or bust. In 10 minutes. Willie says the secret to getting the timing just right is to to sing “Amazing Grace” three times and then it will be perfect. Daniel seems to be stirring his egg way too furiously, and as time is called Cutter is upset; he broke his yolk so he knows he isn’t going to win this round. Jaimee is first, hers is poached nicely. The yolk is silky and warm and spot on. By and large great job. Next, Willie. A tablespoon of vinegar and “Amazing Grace”. Will that work or will it taste of too much vinegar? Is Jesus a fan of eggs? Graham says it tastes like…delicious egg, not vinegar. Thank you Jesus! Daniel broke the egg in the water and there’s no yolk at all on his plate. Joe doesn’t need to taste it. Cutter is last. “You can’t man handle an egg,” he’s told by the judges. The best egg was Willie’s. He is safe and going to the balcony.
Next round? One more will be saved and they will have to cook a dish that initially hides the egg: egg yolk ravioli with a soft egg yolk inside. It’s an incredibly technical dish to pull off. They are given eggs, pasta dough, a pasta machine and 15 minutes to prepare it. The pasta needs to be wafer-thin. Is Cutter being too rough using a fork to seal his ravioli while others are pressing down on theirs more gently?
Time is up and Jaimee is first. Joe tastes and says nothing. Graham says Daniel may not have sealed his enough, but it the yolk inside is properly runny. Cutter is last. The shape of the ravioli looks great. What is in the middle? A nice runny center. Gordon doesn’t say anything. Joe says Jaimee’s was totally liquid. The person who is safe is Cutter. That leaves Jaimee and Daniel to compete in the last round. One will stay, one will leave. It will come down to the most challenging and technical of all egg dishes: a cheese souffle.
They have 40 minutes to make and present a cheese souffle. It all comes down to how they mix the egg whites. Daniel is confident with his cheese mixture of Parmesan and white cheddar. Jaimee may be having troubles with her Bechamel sauce not coming together. Daniel’s looks very runny, too. Are they both on course for disaster?
It’s all the fate of the ovens, finally as they both have two going. They take them out and they both look like they have great souffles, at least to the others watching from the balcony.
All three judges taste both of their souffles. Both Jaimee and Daniel have plusses and minuses. Daniel was generous in the cheese and with his flavors…but was that enough? They made two very gallant attempts. Jaimee’s had a great crust, on the whole it tasted good but there was not enough Bechamel sauce, and it could have used more cheese. Daniel’s Bechamel was beyond belief, but the souffle itself too salty.
Both did great but who is going home? The person with the best souflle is…Jaimee. Daniel is going home. Daniel is not done cooking, however, he says he is going to open a bar with great beer and “great Japanese arcade games”.
All in all this was a pretty enjoyable episode to watch, if exhausting with all of the different challenges in the pressure test. It was at least fun to see a change in the usual structure of the cooking rounds and a strong focus on actual cooking and food, not personalities and fake drama. So that leaves Leslie, Elizabeth, Courtney, Christian, Cutter, Willie and Jaimee left: who won’t make it into the top six? Willie, Cutter and Jaimee seem to be on the weakest footing at the moment, with Elizabeth shining, Leslie the turn-around champ, and Christian coming into his own. Courtney has been hanging on but not really shining strongly lately…could she be on a downward turn as well? Guess we’ll have to watch next week to find out!
For more on MasterChef season 5, visit my fanpage hub!
MasterChef US 2014: Season 5
Welcome to my MasterChef US Season 5 fan page! Here, over the coming months, you will find my detailed episode recaps and reviews, where you’ll be able to share your own thoughts and opinions on the show and this year’s contestants. The fifth sea…
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sockii is just your typical Jane-of-All-Trades who never has enough time in her day for all of her projects. She has written for many websites online including Squidoo, Zujava, Yahoo! Contributors Network, HubPages and Wizzley. She has been attending and vending at science fiction and media conventions for over 15 years, and for several years ran an art gallery and jewelry store in Philadelphia. Today she is happy to be living in South Jersey with her partner David and their 6 cats. Sockii is a member of several affiliate sales programs including Amazon Associates and Viglink. Products from these services may be advertised on her posts and pages to generate sales commissions.