So, last week two competitors said goodbye to the MasterChef kitchen: Astrid and Whitney leaving 20 of the “best home cooks in America” still in the game. But this week it’s going to be an “all out culinary war” as they face their first team battle, and according to the opening voice-over a “favorite” competitor may go home in the pressure test afterwards. (Wait a minute, with only two episodes aired previously, I don’t think many fans have a favorite yet. We haven’t even seen a few people like Kira and Ahran get more than a few seconds of airtime!)
This team competition is going to take place far away from the comforts of the MC kitchen. They have been dropped off 200 miles away in the Mojave Desert. Willie and Francis L complain about the heat and being uncomfortable, but things are only getting started and sure to get more uncomfortable really quickly.
Choppers and trucks start descending towards them. Cutter does seem excited and says his adrenaline is pumping; he was in the military previously. The judges emerge from one of the trucks and reveal Francis B’s advantage from winning the last challenge for his meatloaf: He will be a team captain for Red Team and he gets to pick his entire team! But he has to choose quickly so he goes with people he think will be able to work together well: Cutter, Tyler, Victoria, Francis L, Willie, Christine, Elizabeth, Ahran and Kira. That leaves everyone else on the Blue Team: Courtney, Elise, Leslie, Stephani, Daniel, Christian, Jordan, Gordan, Dan and Jaimee. Christian thinks the Blue Team is doomed. They need to pick their own team captain on the spot and the vote quickly goes to Daniel.
Joe and Graham think the Blue Team have an advantage, but Gordon is with the Red Team. They next find out more about the people they will be cooking for: they will have a very, very important mission to cook in a field kitchen, feeding 500 soldiers. It is almost an impossible mission, Joe tells them. Each team must prepare one grilled meat, one side dish, and one sauce for the protein. They have two hours to prep the food and two hours to serve it.
They have a choice of protein to work with: beef, chicken or pork. Willie wants to do pork chops with an apple-cranberry sauce, and mac and cheese for their side. The entire team seems quick to come together behind this decision so they get to work right away.
Daniel’s blue team is debating their protein option: chicken or beef? Chicken dries out too much, Leslie says, so he wants to do steak. But Daniel wants to do chicken with a BBQ sauce and potato salad for their side as it’s a classic American combination. Leslie is definitely not happy with the choice of chicken over steak but it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to listen to him.
The judges say this is double the size of the biggest team challenge they’ve ever done before and they are worried about some of the choices made. Can the Red Team do bacon mac and cheese without an oven? Gordon thinks chicken was the wrong choice as well for the Blue Team, so their sauce better be good. The teams begin grilling their respective meats. Joe questions the size of the chops on their grill and their placement over the coals…are they hot enough? Even so, Graham likes the rub they’re using on the chops a lot.
Leslie is panicking that the chicken that Stephani is preparing looks undercooked to him. Stephani is not happy dealing with him and wants him to leave her alone! But then Godron checks on the chicken set aside to keep warm and yep, they are….wait for it…raw! “Raw chicken!” (Truly, I would never volunteer to cook chicken for this man, somehow it is always raw!) The chicken is more dangerous than the enemy, Gordon tells them.
Blue Team may be in trouble. Gordon wants Daniel to step it up as team captain. Can they rescue the raw chicken? On the Red Team’s side there are problems too, especially with the mac and cheese. It didn’t cook all together and Gordon spits what he calls “mac and [expletive deleted]” out.
After these initial problems, Daniel seems to be pulling it together as team captain. The Red Team? Abandons the mac and cheese side and is doing cole slaw instead. Are they going to get enough cabbages shaved in time? It doesn’t look good for them as the soldiers are coming in. Francis B thinks they may be truly buggered.
Is it the biggest challenge or the biggest disaster ever on MasterChef, Joe wonders?
They two kitchens are now open for business and the battle is on. All 500 of the soldiers will get red and blue team plates. Victoria says it all turns into chaos once service starts. The chops are holding back the Red Team’s service; it’s hard to get enough out in time.
Blue is getting good comments initially from the first soldiers served, the Red Team’s chop may be tough and not cooked through! Francis B thinks they are screwed as their raw chops are being returned or trashed as unedible.
The Red Team needs to change strategy, so they start butterflying the pork to cook it faster. But how many people did the Red Team miss serving entirely, they wonder? Did the blue team succeed by going for a less ambitious dish? It’s hard to say. Opinions are very mixed from what we’re shown.
The final plates go out and now it’s time to declare the winner. The solders are asked to line up in front of the team kitchen they liked the best. The editing tries to make it look close and as if it’s a real competition, but when you see the overhead shot it’s definitely not close at all. With 329 votes out of 500, the Red Team has won. Blue Team will face a pressure test and elimination the next day. Leslie is still pissed and thinks they screwed up on choosing the chicken. Stephani is confused about how they could have lost. No one is happy about it, that’s for sure.
As they enter the kitchen for the elimination challenge, they learn that not all of the Blue Team will have to face it: three people will be safe. Daniel, as team captain, will pick who is safe. The first person he picks worked very hard, and nobody deserves to be up in the balcony and safe more than Christian, he says. His second choice did a great job: Gordon. Daniel’s final pick? He can save himself, Gordon reminds him, but Daniel says he will stay down to compete with the others. He’s sending the last person up because he doesn’t want to go head to head with him yet: Dan. Leslie thinks Daniel made a big mistake!
The dish they have to make? It’s dessert time, once more: blueberry pie. Elise thinks it’s a pressure test tailor-made for her. Stephani doen’t bake a lot, but wants to think outside the box. But wait a minute, didn’t that nearly get her eliminated for her meatloaf last time? Jaimee, it turns out, has a (truly awful) blueberry pie tattoo on her neck so she shouldn’t be under pressure at all. They have 75 minutes to make their pie and all have the same ingredients and a limited pantry available to them. Elise is nervous because she already made blueberry pie once that didn’t get raves from the judges.
Stephani is putting pecans in the crust for her “thinking outside the box”, but she’s never made blueberry pie before and maybe should just stick to something basic? Jaimee is adding blood orange zest to hers to make it unique. Daniel seems to be panicking and is restarting his pastry from scratch. He could be really behind now.
There are 40 minutes left and everyone should have their pies in the oven. Gordon is worried about Stephani’s crust. Daniel is definitely behind and he needs to get his pie in the oven….he’s the last one to finish up his top crust and it doesn’t look good. Elise didn’t even bother to do a lattice top like the others, which is not a good sign either.
Leslie thinks Daniel is going home. He’s a happy pie maker and seemed to have his pie under control.
In the final seconds the chefs put the last touches on their pies before time is called. Now it’s up to the judges to taste and decide who’s a winner and who’s going to be in serious trouble.
Jaimee is first up with hers: it’s got an orange-scented blueberry filling with orange juice, orange liquer, cinnamon, allspice and ginger. With all of her baking tattoos (including on her knuckles!) it better be good, Graham says! Graham says the lattice work is beautiful and the overall flavor is awesome. The crust is nice and flakey. Joe says it’s impressive. “You’ve earned your ink today.” Gordon says the combination is bloody delicious and she’s now the most famous blueberry tart in New Jersey.
Elise is next. It’s a blueberry pie with mascarpone, lavender, brown sugar and lemon zest. Is it her “lucky number three pie?” She hopes so. But unfortunately Gordon says the pastry is raw on the bottom. He’s struggling…”it’s like eating a mouthful of sand.” Graham says it didn’t even really cook and the only chance she has is someone else’s pie being worse.
Jordan is next, and he has a blueberry pie with lemon zest and brandy. Joe thinks the crust is sloppy and he’s not happy to find raw flour on his fork.
Courtney had made her blueberry pie with Meyer lemon zest and lattice crust. Gordon says it’s delicious. “Is there anything you can’t do?” “I guess when we find it we’ll all know,” she replies. Elizabeth up in the balcony looks like her head is about to explode.
Leslie has a “basic” blueberry pie with butter in the crust, cinnamon, allspice and ginger. Graham tastes it and says it’s “awesome”, it’s like an apple pie and blueberry pie crashed into each other. Daniel seems shocked that Leslie nailed it, and has to get in a snarky comment about Leslie’s age; “he probably knew Betty Crocker.”
Blueberry pie with brandy and cinnamon and a pecan crust for Stephani. Why so many pecans? The pastry is crumbling…it’s almost falling apart. The pastry is undercooked and it’s so sweet Gordon won’t go near a second mouthful. The only person there who might like that pie tonight is Elise. She still thinks her pie is better because Elise is a baker who screwed up, and Stephani isn’t a baker.
Daniel has a blueberry pie with ginger. Visually it looks unappetizing, Gordon says, the lattice is uneven and the pastry is falling apart. It looks bad, but! While the pastry is a mess, the filling is delicious, better than Gordon thought. “Let’s just call it a fluke.”
Joe questions Daniel’s decisions throughout the team competition. But his honor might be better than his pie.
All 7 of the competing chefs are called up front. Jaimee, Courtney, and Leslie are called forward for being top of the class. They are safe and headed up to the balcony. Daniel and Jordan are called up next. The bad news is they are both way off being the best, but the good news is there were worse. They are safe. That leaves Elise and Stephani at the bottom—they had the worst blueberry pies. Elise is horribly embarrassed by the pie she put out there, and Stephani put together a combination that would never work. One is leaving. Elise is called forward and the dramatic music swells! Her pie was bad and they were expecting more…unfortunately, Stephani’s was worse. Elise is safe. Stephani shakes her head…and looks pretty pissed off! No tears from her, although Elise is cueing up the waterworks once again. It was the pecans and the sugar in Stephani’s pie that sealed her fate.
All in all, this episode played out pretty predictably to me. Elise is going to keep “just being safe”, I imagine, for some time to come (she’s still my early pick for the winner) and then come out “most improved” by the end, much like Luca. Stephani almost went home last time and didn’t seem to have what it would take to stay around; instead of just concentrating on the basics she always had to over-complicate dishes and then not pull them off.
From the previews for next week it looks like we may finally see a little of Ahran—perhaps just enough before she is eliminated? While they try to make it look like Courtney could be in trouble (I hope so, but I fear we won’t be getting rid of her that quickly.) We’ll see how it all develops next week!
For more of my MasterChef recaps and additional information on the series and contestants, check out my MasterChef Season 5 fan page on Squidoo!
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.