As the home chefs return to the MasterChef kitchen, the judges have an announcement to make: unfortunately “Little” Gordon has had to drop out of the competition due to illness. (Specifically what illness is not specified on the show nor on his Facebook page, where he did post about it after the show aired.) So the Top 19 is now the Top 18, before the challenge even gets started!
Courtney is sure she’s at the top of the competition and isn’t afraid of the others. Graham says now is a good time to come out and start dominating. What is under their mystery boxes? Be careful opening them, they are told—it’s alive!
Christian is afraid it might be a snake or even a snapping turtle, but it’s nothing quite so extreme. Instead they find a net full of live seafood: crabs, lobster, scallops, clams, mussels, spot prawns, and even a little seaweed. They also have a limited pantry to go along with the seafood to make a stunning dish in 60 minutes. Joe says the margin of error is very very small with live seafood, so they are going to really need to know what they are doing.
It’s the most intimidating mystery box ever, Gordon thinks. Gordon would use the shellfish heads to make a seafood stew. Graham would do scallops three ways. Francis B works in a southern low country restaurant and he’s making a crab broth based on that cuisine. Christian feels great about the challenge, and he’s doing shrimp and grits to represent his hometown New Orleans. Kira is doing scallops and shrimp with a mushroom ragout.
Ahran, who like Kira we’ve hardly seen focused on in this competition, is doing a spicy Asian seafood stew. She’s questioned about being the youngest competitor ever on MasterChef—she’s only 18 and still in high school. She’s asked who she thinks is the strongest competitor, and she likes. They ask her about Courtney and that sets off an awkward situation as she says she feels the judges are unfairly favoring Courtney.
Truthfully I think Ahran is right! And Joe’s defensiveness about her statement only seems to prove it. Of course, they could just be looking to stir up drama as well; so far this season there haven’t been a lot of big battles…yet.
So, who is standing out as the dishes are beginning to come together? Christian, Courtney, Ahran and Francis B all seem to be making good dishes, although there is some debate between the judges on whose looks the best.
Time is called, and the judges will now take a final look around at everyone’s plates to pick three standout dishes to taste. The first dish was “done with integrity”, with a base of a phenomenal broth. Courtney is sure hers is the one they are going to pick, but Ahran wants a chance to shine. The first dish called forward? Is actually Francis B’s. He’s happy to be called again with one of the top dishes. He has a spicy seafood broth with seared scallops. The blue crab has tandoori spice and it’s beautiful with some sake as well…it’s fusion at its best. It’s the most “restauranty dish” to Joe…and Francis’ ability to season aggressively gets Joe’s attention. He hit the nail on the head, it’s Morocco meets Rome.
Next up? This dish really highlighted the flavors and personality of this person as a home cook: Ahran. Courtney is shown looking surprised. Ahran has a spicy seafood stew with boy choy, shrimp, clams and rice. Graham says it looks beautiful and it makes sense. It’s so aromatic. Beautiful…it’s like a “seafood boy band”! (I don’t know what that even means.) Gordon says it’s delicious. It has the base of one of the best dishes they’ve possibly ever had.
The third dish? All of its components seem perfect…Christian’s! He has creole bbq shrimp with cheese grits. It looks like a very homey dish, Joe says, and it succeeds in being both light and rich at the same time. It really tells a story, and it’s a good job. Gordon says grits don’t normally look good on a plate but Christian made them look glossy…it tastes delicious and the sauce lifts it.
So, those are their three “stunning” seafood dishes, but there can only be one winner of the Mystery Box challenge. Who is it? Ahran! She is in shock. She is the youngest contestant ever to make it into the MasterChef pantry and get a chance to decide on details of an elimination test. It’s a “Delicious Sweet Treats” challenge and she has to pick which one it will be. Joe has perfectly baked golden brown muffins. Graham has one of the most popular sweets around, perfect with milk: cookies! Gordon has doughnuts for his offering.
Ahran learns she is safe from elimination and won’t have to cook. But she will be choosing what everyone else does cook. She wants to take Courtney out—she has to deal with “fake bitches” all the time she tells them! (Oh, I agree!) Which does she choose?
Victoria knows doughnuts are technical to make and if you screw up the yeast, you’re done. doughnuts are not easy, they have to be beautiful but also perfectly flavored, the judges tell them all. They have 90 minutes to make a box of one dozen doughnuts.
As things get under way, Courtney has to start her dough over and she’s out of yeast. No one will give her any, or has any to give. Ahran is happy about that. Of course I’m thinking this is making it look too obvious that she is in serious trouble, and after the commercial break we see Francis L gives her extra yeast. (Boo! Sorry, is my dislike of Courtney starting to come through in this recap? I can’t help it.) Francis B’s doughnuts aren’t looking great…like little flat tires, he says. Kira feels terrible, she forgot some of her ingredients. Francis L is going a bit crazy as he’s not just making one or two kinds of doughnuts, he has twelve..the judges remind him they will only be tasting one, so what is he thinking?!
Francis B is definitely in trouble. His doughnuts look like meatballs! Meanwhile, Cutter is filling his doughnuts and Leslie is looking confident with his macadamia crusted doughnuts.
Gordon is worried about Francis L with his 12 different flavors. Joe is worried that Courtney added the shortening late. Francis B is in disarray with his doughnuts that are more like doughnut holes. In the last 2 minutes, Francis L is on a new flavor!
Hands are up and it’s time to see who came out on top this time…and who was on the bottom. But, before the judges begin tasting it turns out that Ahran has one more huge advantage. She can take a walk through the kitchen, look at each chef’s doughnuts, and select a box of doughnuts (and chef) to take up to the balcony as safe.
How will she play this huge game changer? Francis B is praying that she will save her as he’s pretty sure he will be the one going home otherwise. Victoria doesn’t want her to save Francis B. In the end, Ahran does just that: save Francis B. He has dodged the biggest bullet in the competition so far.
Francis B is very relieved and knows he owes Ahran big time. Meanwhile, Courtney is first for tasting. She has raspberry frosted and chai glazed doughnuts. The dough is aerated well….but the doughnuts are seriously salty. She may have put salt instead of sugar in her mix. Graham things the technique is just not what it needs to be. It’s hard for Joe to love these doughnuts or even to like them.
Next up is Leslie. He has “Malibu Sunshine” doughnuts: “O.M.G.” Gordon says. Visually they are stunning. But what do they taste like? They are perfectly shaped, crisp on top and like a vintage delicious doughnut…The topping is zesty and vibrant.
Kira is next with four each of raspberry, banana, and plain glazed doughnuts. Joe says they are aesthetically pleasing, But there’s not much filling in the doughnut Joe tastes. In fact, it seems they are not filled at all! They are more like Kaiser rolls than doughnuts.
Victoria is next. She has doughnuts that are pretty uniform in shape. They are light, Graham says, and some of the best in their simplicity so far.
Christine has doughnuts that are visually uneven. They have chocolate, hazelnut and mascarpone cream inside.
Next is Daniel with his sixteen doughnuts…not 12! He is a “beast with the sugar and yeast”, according to Graham.
Francis L is next with 12 doughnuts, 12 flavors. They are colorful and Gordon is tripping out looking at them. He’s got one with prosciutto, maple and stout beer that Gordon decides to taste. Gordon is laughing. It’s delicious. It’s crispy and sweet. Very unique. Great job.
Next? Cutter, who has dark chocolate/peanut butter doughnuts, and white chocolate/strawberry doughnuts. They are small and uneven and the glaze broke. Also, the one Joe cuts into has no filling. Neither does the second one. Cutter has no excuses. There are a bunch of technical flaws in his doughnuts but the flavor is not the worst. Will that be enough to save him?
There were some delicious doughnuts, they judges say, but there were some disasters that they never would have expected.
The winning box came from the “Silver Fox”: Leslie! He and Francis L are safe, the second best, and will be team captains next time. The three up for elimination? The first brought doughnuts that looked much better than they tasted: Kira. The next failure has been up for elimination before: Cutter. The third, “underwhelming by a mile”: Courtney.
Three disappointing boxes of doughnuts, they are told. Cutter is called forward first. He has wowed them before but tonight he let himself down big time. He’s told to take his apron…back to the bench. He is safe.
It’s down to Courtney and Kira. The person leaving MasterChef tonight? Is Kira. No surprise. They hardly showed anything of her in the first three episodes, so of course she wasn’t going to last very long. And there was no way the judges were going to let their (apparent) personal favorite Courtney go home after her first big screw up—even as big as her making seriously salty doughnuts.
In the end I was happy to see both Leslie and Francis L do well. I was not happy to see the “girl fighting” amped up…hopefully we will not be seeing Courtney vs. Ahran battles drawn out episode after episode until one of them goes home, but I am afraid we will. Stealth contestants barely seen this week? Elise, Elizabeth, Big Willie, and Dan…we didn’t even see anything of what their seafood dishes or doughnuts were like! (Perhaps we will see at least photos of them later on the official MasterChef Facebook page.)
What do you think? Are the judges playing favorites? Should Courtney have been sent home instead of Kira? You tell me, in the comments below….
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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.