Another episode of MasterChef is here (sorry for my tardy recap) and once again it’s Mystery Box time – the biggest and most intimidating in MC history! (Or so they say…) Will thirteen be someone’s unlucky number, now that there are only 13 chefs left of the original 30?
The home cooks enter the kitchen and see a big huge box on stage. Cutter likes everything big since he’s from Texas, so he thinks he’s got an advantage from the start with this one. They each have a box on their counter and in it they find a knife. So Elizabeth thinks they will all be hacking at a big giant creature under the box.
Elise says it’s going to get “Cutthroat” in here…wrong tv channel, Elise!
Inside the giant box they find fourteen wild king salmon, line caught from Alaska. They each have to make one composed MasterChef dish from their salmon. Each fish is almost as big as Jaimee herself!
One fish is left after each contestant gets theirs, and it’s not going to waste: Gordon will filet it, Graham will cook it, and Joe will taste it. Each salmon is worth about $450…no pressure to do it right!
Ahran’s never fileted a full fish before and she feels lost. Christine just wants to muscle through it. No one’s watching Gordon do his, which Graham and Joe thinks this is a waste. It only took him 5 minutes for him to prepare the fish and now Graham is getting started on the cooking.
Christian fileted his well, Gordon observes, and he’s doing a Creole-style salmon because it’s his comfort zone. Gordon tells him to be careful with the spices, not to overwhelm the flavor of the fish.
Courtney is basting her salmon in miso butter and serving it with sauteed broccolini. She thinks she’s going to be in the top three. Christine’s salmon, meanwhile, looks like a shark ate it. It’s like a disaster before she even has started cooking it. Elizabeth is doing herb breadcrumb baked salmon over fennel carrot puree and cauliflower steaks. She did a good job on her fillet, the judges think.
Graham is already done with his plate and is serving it up to Joe; he’s made crispy skin salmon with beet threads, crispy golden beets, and watercress finished with lemon yogurt and vanilla pistachio vinaigrette. That’s all done in 28 minutes!
Now Elise is ready to pass out and is calling for the medic. She didn’t cut herself, but just seems to be having a complete freakout. She leaves the kitchen and may not be back in order to complete her plate.
Meanwhile Graham’s salmon is perfect, according to Joe. The creamy richness of the yogurt makes it light, summery and delicious. With 20 minutes left, Elise comes back into the kitchen and says she’s okay. She’s embarrassed and crying (again) but ready to cook.
There are now and a half minutes to go. Will Elise get a dish out? Gordon is keeping his fingers crossed for her.
Time’s up and now the judges need to pick three standout dishes. The first home cook did a great job on the fileting and the dish looks like it’s popped out of a restaurant…congrats go to Christian. Courtney thinks he is her main competition, after seeing his plate. He is serving blankened Creole salmon with a vegetable medley. He had the balls to blacken the salmon, Gordon says, and it’s cooked beautifully. Gordon loves the heat and he definitely tastes the salmon, then the blend of spices. “It’s me on a plate,” Christian says. Graham says the sauce and spice mix makes the fish heartier and it’s one of the best he’s put up. It’s nothing Joe would ever order, cook or conceptualize but it’s really tasty. It might be Christian’s night to win a mystery box.
The second dish had a restaurant quality plating. This person’s already won one mystery box before… It’s Courtney. Hers is a seared salmon on broccolini with Israeli couscous and a cucumber fennel salad. The fish is cooked beautifully. Really awesome, good job, Graham says. Gordon says it’s made his night.
Third up? This home cook also plated her dish beautifully…the flavors and spices were perfect to spotlight the salmon….Elizabeth. Leslie says she’s the one to beat, the “wild girl” in the competition. She has an herb-crumb baked salmon with pine nut-caper relish on the side of her cauliflower steak. “Good cook,” Joe says of her salmon, and the herbs aren’t overpowering and it has a lot going on. She might have a real winner on her hands. The relish is delicious, Gordon says, and it’s smart and sophisticated.
So, three stunning dishes but only one can be the winner tonight. The person who paid the most respect to that king salmon is…after a commercial break…Christian.
Since he won, Christian is going into the pantry to see what his “huge” advantage will be in the next elimination challenge. First, he won’t be cooking, so he’s safe. His second advantage is that the rest of the chefs have to cook based on what the judges put in their baskets…he will choose from Joe, Gordon or Graham’s basket, which they’ve picked based on what they might have on hand in their own pantry and fridge on any given night.
Joe has the bounty of Italy (with a LOT of wine). Graham has every thing from the farmers’ market. Gordon has a taste of the United Kingdom.
Which does Christian choose? The cooks find out it’s Joe’s basket, with four bottles of wine. Besides the wine there is grana padano cheese, proscuitto, artichokes, aged balsamic vinegar, garlic, chanterelle mushrooms, and San Marzano tomatoes. Sounds like a real winner to me but then again I’m Italian too. Some of the other chefs could be at a real disadvantage here.
But there’s something else. They all have 1 hour to cook their dish except for one person who only has 30 minutes. Christian gets to pick who only gets 30 minutes, and he picks the person who talks a big game, walks a big game, but he wants to see more from: Courtney. She’s not surprised, and she thinks he threw his advantage out the window. Shes’s smug and pretty sure she can do this no matter what.
Everyone else’s 60 minutes start and they get to cooking. Gordon thinks Elise and Ahran will struggle from not being familiar with the ingredients. Graham thinks Courtney will struggle because of her time limitation.
Elise is making porcini artichoke ravioli. Christine is confident with the ingredients. Cutter is doing flatbread pizzas because he likes the ingredients, even though he has no yeast to make the bread rise. Ahran is doing savory tiramisu. It’s either the most amazing thing ever or…Joe leaves it at that.
Courtney starts cooking and Joe is really worried about her. Elise, meanwhile, can’t get her pasta dough together. She’s not good. She’s crying…yes, once again…and she doesn’t even want to finish her dish. She’s ready to throw in the towel. Gordon is trying to help encourage her by showing how to fix her pasta dough. Leslie is taking a sip of his wine…Joe tells him not to get tanked but at 56 that’s all he does, he answers back! Elizabeth is making breakfast lasagna and it sounds like something Joe wants to eat. Willie is doing tomato soup with a fried egg and flatbread. It sounds weird and not really Italian, Gordon says.
Gordon is worried about Elise, and Joe says she shouldn’t even be here on MasterChef if she can’t make a pasta dough at this point (agreed!). Ahran’s will either be amazing or a complete disaster.
Hands are up after 60 minutes, and Courtney is first for tasting. She has spaghetti with mushroom ragu, crispy artichoke hearts and pancetta. She thinks it’s a complement that Christian targeted her with the shorter cooking time. It’s about the ingredients, Gordon says, and her plate is delicious. By and large it looks like it took 60 minutes, not 30. The artichokes are perfectly cooked. Joe says she didn’t have much wiggle room but Christian thinks she played it safe with the spaghetti. Joe disagrees and thinks he could have easily sent home five other people with this challenge, but not Courtney. She seems to agree, saying she performs best in the spotlight!
Cutter has a pizza that looks like it took 10 minutes, not 60 minutes to bake. It’s an “artisan” pizza, he starts to call it until Gordon takes exception to that title just based on how it looks. Gordon feels like he’s at a kid’s party, not eating an “artisan” pizza. It’s just a simple pizza with tomato, basil and oregano sauce…it’s just not good enough, not MasterChef. All kidding aside, Joe says, these are important ingredients to him. Cutter doesn’t even know what these ingredients are, which is kind of insulting, and he even put sauce under the pizza. It’s a waste of his time and their time in the kitchen. Cutter doesn’t want to hear it though, he thought it looked and tasted good!
Leslie is next with artichoke ravioli with prosciutto, artichoke, and chanterelle mushroom. Great technique, but the sauce is a little grainy and his plating not the best. he’s really got to step it up on that point if he’s going to stick around and he knows it. Next, Willie has tomato soup, fried egg, and flat bread. Willie says it’s an 8 out of 10…but Gordon says that’s 7 points too high. It doesn’t float his boat.
Christine, next, has mushroom “maramelle” with brown butter sage sauce and crispy prosciutto. Great pasta, very thin, good use of brown butter. It’s really quite good, Joe says.
Ahran has her savory tiramisu with mushroom prosciutto sauce. Has she been drinking? Gordon wants to know. No, she can’t even open the bottle. Gordon didn’t think it was going to work but tasting it, it’s absolutely delicious. He loves the seasoning. Her cooking ability is second to none.
Elizabeth next has her breakfast lasagne with artichoke heart salad, and capers marinated in champagne. There are 5 layers with bechamel sauce, she explains, and Joe says “wow”. It’s amazing, a great use of bechamel and really using the ingredients in an amazing dish. It’s like taking a trip to Italy.
Elise is next, she’s disappointed because she (crying again) feels like she failed both challenges today. She’s lost confidence in the kitchen. One mistake and she disintegrates. She has made a mushroom and artichoke ravioli with red wine reduction sauce. It’s not a pie, but it is a sad ravioli. Gordon asks her to taste it and she admits the tomato sauce needs seasoning. How can she present a dish that is so bland? She’s trying not to give up, but Gordon says it tastes like it.
She just can’t stop it with the waterworks. Is it real or the actress in her playing it up for the cameras? I don’t know.
There were two standout dishes, the judges announce. The first absolutely went outside the box. She’s one of the toughest in the competition and also the youngest: Ahran. The other great dish showed incredible technique and knowledge and came out on top. The winning dish tonight is Elizabeth’s. She continues to be amazed in her own success, she says, and she and Ahran will be team captains next time around.
Normally they would ask the three worst cooks to come down but tonight there are two obviously bad ones out there. Can the two responsible put their hand up? Willie, Cutter and Elize all raise their hands. Cutter drops his when Gordon says there were only two, but Cutter is wrong, and he and Elise are called forward.
Cutter has been in the bottom across five challenges! He’s produced some good dishes but it’s his stubborn nature keeping him from improving. Even so, the person leaving tonight is “the baker who cannot bake” (one thing Cutter seems to say correctly): Elise. Her time is done. Of course we get even more tears at this point before she is finally gone from the competition.
All I can say is IT’S ABOUT TIME! Although I really wish this had been a double elimination and both Elise and Cutter had been put out of our misery. I had originally pegged Elise as the potential winner for this season, just based on the emphasis she got in the first episode and early on, but it was clear after a while that she was just way out of her league and completely hopeless, even at the things she supposedly knew how to do well like baking.
At this point I don’t know what to think of this batch of MasterChef contestants whatsoever. The only one I see as having a real winner potential – as in, he’s very likeable and could possibly sell some cookbooks – is Willie. But even so his skills still seem limited to comfort food and we haven’t really seen him knock anything completely out of the ball park. The judges continue to kiss Courtney’s exotic dancing rear end but I just cannot stand her smug attitude and I don’t see how she is winning over the audience with her dreadful personality (as edited), even if she can cook. Could it be we’ll see a Willie vs. Courtney finale? That’s about the only scenario I can imagine at this point, so we can see the “good guy” triumph over ego. Christian seems to be pulling out from the pack as well, but it’s hard to say if he will keep going strong and if he can come up with good dishes outside of his New Orleans/Creole comfort range.
Honestly I don’t think the casting people for MasterChef did a great job this year; it’s hard to really care about most of these people and not many of them seem bankable as cookbook authors. But that’s just my opinion now that we’re down to 12. Will the rest of this season prove me wrong?
For more on MasterChef Season 5….
Check out my Season 5 Fanpage 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.
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