“Getting Ahead in the Competition”
Last week we finally said goodbye to Shelly and the top nine became eight: Tommy, Derrick, Claudia, Hetal, Stephen, Olivia, Nick and Katrina. And with an even number of competitors again that means this week will be another team competition.
As they walk into the MasterChef kitchen, they find four large crates: two marked “Meat” and two marked “Vegetables”. They’re going to have to use the ingredients inside those crates to prepare their next dishes. But they don’t have to make just one dish…they’re going to have to make “around…50”, according to Christina. A dish for every one coming for dinner in the MasterChef restaurant that nights. The guests are VIPs shaping the future of restaurants around the world, Gordon says. Both teams will have to make one elegant, composed entree for each of the 50 guests, and those guests will be the judges as well.
Hetal and Tommy are team captains and it’s Tommy’s first time getting that honor – and responsibility. Tommy had the winning dish so he gets first pick for his team. He picks the “world famous” urban gardener: Stephen. Stephen isn’t exactly happy to be picked for Tommy’s team. What did he do so wrong in his life, he wonders? Hetal picks someone she’s worked with before: Derrick, who isn’t too pleased to get first pick for her team, either. He doesn’t think Hetal has the voice of a leader so he’s worried about the protein box. Tommy then goes for Katrina, and Hetal picks Olivia. Tommy gets last pick and goes with Nick. That puts Claudia on Hetal’s Blue Team. Tommy feels pretty good about his Red Team picks.
So, what do they have in their crates to cook with? They open the vegetable creates to find a variety of beautiful fresh produce: peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, artichokes, cabbage, carrots, radishes. Stephen says it looks like his backyard. If he dies of irritation working with Tommy, they could bury him in this box!
So, what is in the meat box? Here comes the “good stuff”…or so some of them are thinking. Nick hopes it’s pig. But when they open up their boxes, they are empty. Hetal is happy because that means it has to be a vegetarian challenge, and that’s exactly the kind of challenge she should be captain of. Nick loves meat so this is not his kind of challenge at all.
Gordon explains that tonight, the diners they are going to be cooking for are the who’s who of the vegetarian world: restauranteurs, food critics and others who are all vegetarian. They will have 60 minutes to prep their composed vegetarian entries before 30 minutes of restaurant service.
Time gets started and both teams hurry into the pantry to discuss their plan. Hetal has a strong vision of what she wants to do: a potato, chickpea and English pea curry with tomato sauce, coconut rice. Claudia is worried that Hetal is the only one who knows these Indian spices and flavors, but she assures her team she can walk them through it.
On the Red Team, Tommy is trying to come up with a plan, but it seems that everyone wants to be team captain and talk over him. Katrina and Stephen seem to have an idea to do a Fall-themed dish of lentils and butternut squash, also with mushrooms and goat cheese. These are the people he picked, but now he has to deal with them.
15 minutes gone and everyone seems to just be getting started on their cooking. They all need to be moving faster. The judges discuss how this is a true test of a chef to be able to put together a balanced fine dining vegetarian entree.
Gordon checks in with Hetal and he wonders if she’s too much inside her head with her plan and not communicating enough with her team. Derrick isn’t really comfortable with what he’s working on. The Blue Team seems to be all over the place, she needs to delegate more. With 29 minutes to go the vegetables are all raw. Claudia says nothing is done, and everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off. It’s a mess, according to her teammates. Hetal needs to take a few minutes to get everyone on track.
Meanwhile, time to check in with the Red Team, with 25 minutes to go. Tommy is doing a butternut squash cradle with lentils on top a portobello mushroom, with a goat cheese medallion. But goat cheese isn’t cooking well in the pan and Gordon challenges that he can’t serve them to these VIP guests. So they’re going to 86 the goat cheese. Will they get the butternut squash rings cooked in time? Nobody is listening to Tommy.
Back on the Blue Team, Hetal’s rice is no good, it’s too wet. Christina checks in with them and they ask her for any way to save it. She wonders if they could make it into a rice porridge or do something else if it’s an essential part of the dish. They have to be clever and creative to make it work.
Graham checks in with Stephen on the Red Team and seems impressed with his mushroom sauce. Is Tommy okay with them nixing the goat cheese? He didn’t really have a choice, and right now he’s not really comfortable owning this dish. But he’s got to step up and be more assertive, be the boss.
In the dining room the guests are seated and start explaining what they are looking for in the dishes tonight. It’s time to start getting their plates together and ready for service. Tommy is trying to get one demo plate composed but meanwhile Katrina, Nick and Stephen are yelling at him to hurry up and work faster.
It’s like three wild dogs in the yard barking and barking at him, he says, and what does he have to say to that? “Shut. Up!”
Service begins and the Red Team is finally coming together now that Katrina has shut up and Tommy has finished his demo plate. Hetal thinks her dish looks beautiful and that the VIPs will appreciate where she is coming from. One guest tells Graham that she prefers the Blue Team’s plate because it was delightfully fresh. But another person thought the spiciness of the Blue Team dish was overwhelming all the other flavors.
Tommy’s squash cradle with lentils, mushroom gravy and pickled radish is garnering some praise and criticism as well. One diner really loved it, especially the mushroom gravy. Another thought the lentils were a little overdone and that the dish was something he’d seen before.
All diners get their plates and now it’s time for them to cast their votes. All the team members can do is wait in anticipation of the results. When the voting is completed, the chefs enter the dining room. Tommy doesn’t just have butterflies in his stomach, he has bats with teeth inside of him! Hetal feels it’s important for her to win because these are “her people”. But with a margin of 13 votes, Tommy and the Red Team win the competition. He is bursting with pride. And now, the Blue Team will have to face the “dreaded pressure test”.
Hetal feels extremely guilty that her team members are now up for elimination. Derrick thinks that he, Olivia and Claudia don’t deserve to be there because they just followed Hetal’s orders and gave her exactly what she wanted. Did she want a pressure test?
Well, now at least one of them will be cooking their last meal in the MasterChef kitchen now. Graham asks them to turn around and they see a black box resting on each of the stations behind them. Each box is different in size and with different contents, but they all share one common theme. The four cooks must randomly choose a station.
Olivia says it’s silent as the competition is fierce. She can’t imagine what is coming. As team captain Hetal is asked to lift her box first. What does she find there? A lamb’s head! She definitely does not look happy about it, it fact it’s probably every vegetarian’s worst nightmare. She’s never cooked one before but she did dissect a lamb in biology class so she’ll attack it the same way.
Derrick lifts his box to find a fish head. It’s a halibut head in fact. He hasn’t cooked with it before. Claudia lifts her box to find a pig’s head. She’s not so unhappy, in fact she is in “hog heaven” now. Every major party in her family involves a whole roasted pig. The final box in front of Olivia is the biggest one there. Hetal is not looking so good right now and Gordon advises her not to look. What did Olivia end up with? It’s a giant cow’s head.
And so they each have to make a dish featuring at least one part of the animal head they received, in 60 minutes. They’ll have a limited pantry to work with as well. Time begins and the judges debate who will do well and who seems likely to struggle. Hetal doesn’t look right and this is really out of her comfort zone. Derrick arguably has the easiest protein but he could overthink it and overcook the fish. Olivia is so dainty, how can she make a 100-pound cow’s head look gorgeous. Claudia seems to be in her comfort zone and seems to want to send a message to the others with her dish.
Gordon checks in with Hetal. She is doing shredding tongue and cheek on jasmine rice. She needs to “wakey wakey” and concentrate, he tells her. Olivia is doing barbecued beef cheek with cheddar polenta. Who does she think is going home? Graham wants to know. She thinks Graham is making her nervous and she’d rather not talk right now. I don’t blame her!
Christina checks in with Derrick, who is doing Tandoori-spiced halibut, coconut cauliflower puree, smoked mango balls, grapefruit gastrique. He says he loves the pressure of being in the black apron. Claudia feels great because pork is so significant to Mexican cuisine. She’s doing a stacked tostada with pork cheek and pigs’ ears.
Graham is worried about Olivia because she hasn’t added a lot of herbs or garlic to her meat and it will be too late to get those flavors in once it’s cooked Christina is worried about Derrick and sees that the Red Team members want him out. He’s all over the place and practically setting himself on fire with his torch. He’s definitely feeling the pressure and Stephen is trying to get in his head.
Everyone rushes to finish plating until time is called. They start with team captain Hetal. She has lamb tongue and cheek braised in curry spices with turmeric jasmine rice and cilantro mint oil. She’s going on smell since she couldn’t taste the meat. Which is the tongue and which is the cheek? Gordon wants to know. She cooked them together. It’s confusing because there’s way too much rice, it’s slightly undercooked, and he’s frustrated even though the meat is good.
Next up is Derrick’s Tandoori-spiced halibut cheek with coconut orange cauliflower puree, braised cabbage, smoked mango balls and grapefruit gastrique. Visually it’s the prettiest plate he’s ever put up, Graham says, but the flavors seem a little disjointed. It’s not just fusion but confusion. Tasting, the fish is cooked perfectly. He would have done the grapefruit or mango, not both. It’s overcomplicated. He’s got to pull it in sometimes.
Christina is up to taste Claudia’s dish: it’s pig ear and cheek tostada with mango salsa and chipotle cream. It has a rustic charm, Christina says, and after tasting she whispers, “I love it.” It’s so bright, the cabbage brings acidity, and the pig cheeks are the star.
Last up is Olivia with her BBQ beef cheek with braised kale, sauteed vegetables and cheddar polenta. It’s got a rustic charm, Gordon says, like it just came out of a neighborhood bistro. Gordon tastes it and says that the plating is smart but the bizarre thing is it’s hard to identify the beef cheek because the sauce is so strong. It could be anything. He wanted to taste the beef, and she forgot the hero.
Time for the judges to make their decision. One dish was absolutely remarkable, and that was Claudia’s. She’s safe. She’s happy because she didn’t deserve to be in the pressure test to begin with. Hetal and Derrick are called forward next. It’s really hard, but, they are both safe tonight. That means Olivia is the one going home.
She’s sad to go but before she leaves she says the person who will be the next MasterChef is Katrina.
Overall this was a pretty intense episode that certainly went to extremes: first all vegetarian, and then gruesome head meat. Now, I happen to be a fan of offal meats so I was certainly interested in seeing what they’d come up with in this pressure test. And I gotta say Claudia’s tostada looked delicious and I absolutely want that recipe. That’s the first time I’ve really been that super-impressed with her cooking. They could really be setting her up for the cookbook win now.
I was disappointed not just with Hetal’s leadership but also her teammates on the Blue Team, seemingly so clueless about Indian food and spices and seeming so confused about how to approach the dish. It really wasn’t that complicated, and Indian spices/techniques are not that different from what you would find in Southeast Asian cuisines. I am not an expert but I do enjoy cooking Indian at home at times and I’m a little surprised to see these so-called home cooking experts so thrown off-kilter by having to do something with an Indian theme. That said, I do wish Hetal would show a little more variety in the dishes she prepares and chooses to make. She is definitely falling fast and I think could be soon for elimination.
Next week promises to be a major disaster, as usual with the annual tag team challenge. I tend to think we’ll see either Nick or Hetal eliminated next, what about you? Personally I’d kind of be glad to see Stephen get the cut next; he’s becoming far too annoying with his attitude toward Derrick and also Tommy.
Want to share your thoughts on this season of MasterChef and learn more about the competitors? Then check out my MasterChef Season 6 fan page on Wizzley!
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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.