“A Storm’s A Brewing”
Last week we said goodbye to Olivia after her disappointing dish featuring beef cheeks. Who will be going home next? Tommy says it feels fantastic to be in the top seven. The MasterChef trophy is so close. Nick says it’s feeling good as well and he’s going in to this next round of the competition with 100% confidence.
It’s time for their next big Mystery Box challenge. What will they find under their boxes? They’re warned they have to lift the boxes carefully because their contents are very hot, and it turns out to be coffee. “Damn fine coffee,” Christina says. As familiar as many of them may be with drinking it, which of them knows how to cook with it? The contestants will have a limited pantry to work with, although they will actually find a cornucopia of coffee products including different type of coffee beans, coffee extracts, and coffee liqueur. They can choose from proteins including bacon, beef rib eye, short ribs, salmon and also fresh fruit and vegetables that will go well with their coffee.
The winner will get a “huge advantage” in the upcoming elimination challenge. So are they ready? They have 60 minutes to get cooking.
Stephen says he very rarely does anything else with coffee except drink it. Claudia loves coffee and she’s making a coffee-liqueur flan. Stephen is doing a chile and espresso crusted filet with a red wine coffee sauce. Nick is doing vanilla coffee cake with mocha chocolate drizzle. He hasn’t won a Mystery Box yet and it’s killing him!
Derrick is bringing out his dessert guns and he’s making coffee and caramel panna cotta with raspberry coulis and spun sugar. Derrick says he’s going outside of his comfort zone, unlike Stephen who is sticking to his garden and a savory dish. If he’s going to win it he has to beat the best, and as far as Derrick is concerned that means beating Stephen.
Hetal is doing a chocolate coffee cake with a mint-chocolate ganache. Is she back in the competition with this dessert? She thinks so. Tommy is doing white chocolate coffee creme to go into coffee beignets. He’s using chicory to give it that “downtown New Orleans” flavor.
Whose dishes are looking good? Gordon is excited by Nick’s dish. Time is called and the judges go around for a closer look a everyone’s plates before announcing the top three. The first dish is plated beautifully, and is by someone out to prove they are back in the game: Derrick.
Stephen has to give Derrick the credit he deserves as he steps forward with his plate – or bowl as the case may be. He’s prepared a caramel latte panna cotta with raspberry sauce, coffee dust, and spun sugar. It’s supposed to be like an encore, like at a concert, he explains in regards to the smaller size of the dish. You want to leave people wanting more. Gordon says it’s delicious and for the first time in the competition he would change nothing about the dish. Graham says it’s remarkable. Does Derrick feel equally strong as a sweet chef as a savory one? He says yes, and Graham says it’s a real big sign that he’s here. Christina says the control of coffee in the panna cotta is nice, she just wants it a little more tart. But overall really it’s really elegant.
The second dish they want a closer look a had a lot of complex flavors going through their dish. They recently had a tough time and this could be a form of redemption: Hetal. She has a dense coffee chocolate cake with mint ganache and espresso whipped cream. Does she feel stronger with sweet than savory? Yes. Graham says it’s tasty and plated really nice but it could use some more coffee flavor. Gordon says it looks beautiful. Hetal loves dessert, she explains, because her mother never allowed her to have it. “It’s bloody delicious,” Gordon says, but if he ate the whole thing he’d be in bed for three days. (It does look rather huge, like a dessert meant for 2-4 people, not just one!)
The third and final dish they are going to look at showed an incredible amount of finesse, and is by someone whose been in the top three before they’ve never won a Mystery Box before: Nick. He’s made vanilla coffee cake with coffee mascarpone and mocha chocolate drizzle. Christina says the flavors of the coffee build and build and build through each layer and she’s incredibly impressed. It’s really delicious. Gordon says it looks beautiful, it’s elegant, light and moist with flavors of coffee throughout.
So, who will win? Derrick thinks for sure it’s got to be him because he’s got a restaurant quality dish. But the win goes to Nick. Derrick is clearly mad and not even congratulating Nick for his win the way that Hetal is.
Everyone is called to line up in front of the benches while Nick goes to join the judges. For his advantage, he doesn’t get to choose what the others are cooking tonight; the judges have already made that decision. They want to celebrate summer with a party platter which includes summer staples: barbecue chicken wings, pigs in a blanket, shrimp skewers with peanut sauce, hamburger sliders, and homemade tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole.
Tommy says he’s known for throwing parties, so he feels confident. The home cooks will have to replicate the tray of food in front of them and work in teams of two to do that. Who will be picking those teams? It’s Nick, who doesn’t have to cook as the other part of his advantage. Should the rest of them be worried? Absolutely. Because this isn’t just a team challenge, the judges explain but it’s the annual MasterChef tag team challenge. Stephen is certainly not happy about that, as he doesn’t like to leave himself at someone else’s will.
Time for Nick to pair up the other contestants. The first person he picks has a great palette but may not be able to rein it in: Stephen. Derrick is sure that he’s going to be paired with him and that’s exactly what happens. Nick then picks someone who is a threat but gets rattled easily: Katrina. He puts Katrina with someone she’s bashed heads with before: Tommy. Tommy says Katrina is looking at him like she’s just been paired with Count Dracula.That leaves Claudia and Hetal to work together as the final team of two.
They have 60 minutes to replicate the party platter. Nick heads up to the balcony and says he just wants some popcorn and a six-pack because he can’t wait to watch what happens. Every ingredient the team will need are on the stations behind them. Time to get cooking!
Gordon says the first thing they need to get started on are the chips: to make the dough for them and get it resting. Then it’s seasoning the meat for the burger patty. The chicken wings need to be blanched and then fried. The onions and mushrooms need to be cooked down slow and low for the sliders. The shrimp needs to be in a marinade, with the vegetable crudite left for the last fifteen minutes. The contestants could go wrong if they can’t multitask, because they have to work on more than one thing at a time.
The judges seem worried about Katrina and Tommy working together, but also Derrick and Stephen because they are like oil and water. Tommy and Katrina are already looking like they are in trouble. He’s starting to grill his shrimp too early when they need to get the chicken started. Katrina’s yelling at him and even Gordon steps in, wondering what Tommy is doing.
Time for the first switch. Claudia and Hetal seem to have things under control. Christina reminds Claudia to be sure to taste everything that Hetal can’t. At the next switch, Derrick seems quiet, Gordon thinks, while Stephen is cooking. But has anyone on their team tasted anything? Tommy is doing the chicken wings and he and Katrina are still fighting. Tommy is tired of Katrina screaming at him.
Another switch is called and Derrick has dumped all the chicken wings in the fryer without using the basket to pull them out. Katrina thinks the breading is coming off their chicken with the way Tommy did them in an egg wash and Christina makes some faces about how they are looking as well.
Another switch. Katrina wants Tommy to go faster. They are in disarray for sure. Claudia and Hetal seem organized, while Derrick and Stephen are working against each other.
30 seconds to go before the final switch. They need to get to work plating their trays. Derrick and Stephen don’t have their chips and salsa done, and Katrina and Tommy’s burgers will have raw cheese on them. It’s a sprint to the finish until the last items are on the plates and time is at last called.
Time for tasting and first up is Derrick and Stephen. Derrick says the basis of the tag team challenge is communication and overall he’s really proud that everything is on the platter. Visually, they’ve got it all going on despite their animosity. Gordon says the chicken is seasoned nicely. The shrimp are really delicious. Despite the differences between the two of them they pulled off a great dish. Stephen says everything was done together. There’s a great cook on the burger and it’s delicious. The tortillas are great, so is the guac, so it’s a really awesome job. Nick’s plan to get rid of the strongest competition was a “disaster”.
Claudia and Hetal are next and Claudia says it’s the worst dish she’s ever presented to the judges. Christina says it looks like someone’s already eaten from their platter. Their mushrooms are burnt (which was Hetal’s task), so the burgers only taste like burnt mushrooms. The shrimp are raw as well – which Hetal was supposed to grill. It doesn’t feel like a party platter, it could be a funeral platter. Gordon says it looks dreadful. The guacamole is bland. The wings are tasty but he’s shocked with everything overall and they should be embarrassed.
Tommy and Katrina are next and Tommy says this party platter looks like a hot mess. Katrina would rate their performance as “negative two”. Gordon says they could have both done better on their own. The chicken is a disaster because the breading is too thick from the egg wash. The salsa tastes nice; Katrina made that. Tommy started the burgers on the grill and Katrina assembled them. The onions are burnt, but the burger otherwise tastes nicely. Katrina says Tommy didn’t listen. Tommy says Katrina can dish it but can’t take it. She’s crying and says it’s because they could have done better. The shrimp are raw. The chips are “weird” and “soggy”. Graham’s trying to find something redeeming and he says the burgers are the only thing they have going well.
So, all of that effort and for some of them it got the better of them. One team did do well and that was Derrick and Stephen. They put out the best dish. The bad news? The difficult decision is which team will be safe from elimination. Hetal and Claudia just did enough to stay safe. That means it’s down to Tommy and Katrina. Hetal is relieved and says she needs to get more of the “Jersey-Philly-San Francisco” her out there in her food and less of the “fragile Indian girl”.
It was an underachieving performance by both Katrina and Tommy. But there was one of them who put more of an effort into the challenge, and that was Katrina. That means Tommy is going home.
Tommy came into the competition as a “proper foodie” and “true gourmand”, Gordon says. But being in the competition has brought him back to his Creole roots. He’s sad to leave but he wishes everyone else the best of luck. Who does he think will win it all? He says it’s going to be Derrick before leaving with his typical dramatic flair.
I’m going to really miss Tommy, personally. While I wasn’t crazy about him at first, I really started to enjoy him as he competition progressed, and he did start to show more of his Creole roots and cooking knowledge. His commentary was generally amusing and I think he would have put together a fun and interesting cookbook, too. But with his personality and style, I have to think this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Tommy Walton on television (in fact, a previous MasterChef contestant, Eddie Jackson, just won “Food Network Star” and will have a show starting in October. Maybe Tommy should try out for that next season…?)
At this point I’m really tired of both Katrina and Hetal. Katrina was insufferable this week with the way she was nagging and harping on Tommy, and then so quick to tears. She wanted to make it seem like everything was Tommy’s fault on their team’s side, but her inability to know how to communicate well with him was just as much of a problem, in my opinion.
And Hetal? She really doesn’t seem to excel at anything other than baking at this point. She’s the resident vegetarian this season who rarely seems to cook vegetables well – this episode she burned the mushrooms for the burgers, and served up undercooked shrimp. I don’t understand why she keeps getting free passes from the judges for all of these screw-ups.
But I’m generally not that fond of the tag-team challenges on MasterChef because they always seem to lead to the elimination of someone who deserved to stay around longer. In season 4 it was the episode which eliminated Eddie (mentioned above as the newest “Food Network Star”), in season three it was Stacey. The team that is expected to self-destruct due to personality conflicts does well, a team that thought they had it all together ends up floundering. And party food like pigs in a blanket? This seems like a real step down from previous tag team challenges which focused on more challenging themes like dim sum or sushi.
Next week should be a tense one with the annual “restaurant takeover” as well. I am hopeful that we may see Katrina or Hetal completely fail under that kind of pressure and need to recreate a precise, fancy restaurant dish. I would expect Stephen and Derrick to be able to do well, although as team captains it may depend on who they end up having to work with.
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.