It’s a “Cinnamon Roll-er Coaster” this week on MasterChef!
Last week we said goodbye to two home cooks we’d barely gotten to know: Mateo and Brianna. The remaining 20 hopeful contestants are now going to have to face their very first team challenge. It’s taking place at the Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park. Darah—who we’ve basically not seen anything about until this episode—is one of the first on camera, talking about how this is a dream come true for her: she works in a theme park! (Uh oh, who senses trouble ahead for her?)
Every day thousands of people come to this theme park, Graham says, and today they will be feeding them…all! Suddenly the excitement seems to be silenced. Katrina says she’s never fed more than 50 people at a time before, so this is going to be insane. They are told to go ahead and pick their own teams of ten. Amanda notices that immediately “most of the girls” run to Dan, “the model boy” as she calls him.
The Blue Team ends up consisting of Olivia, Derrick, Katrina, Darah, Katrina, Tommy, Dan, Ailsa, Hetal, Sara and Claudia. The Red Team is Amanda, Charlie, Christopher, Jessie, Justin, Kerry, Nick, Shelly, Stephen and Veronica. But they need team captains and the judges are going to make that choice for them. For the Red Team they pick someone because he normally works with a lot of people and knows how to assess individuals’ skills: Kerry. He’s another contestant we’ve barely seen on camera so far. Nick isn’t sure that Kerry being an HR manager is going to translate into being able to run a team kitchen.
The Blue Team has a strong asset, they say, and choose Darah because she has worked in a theme park for ten years. Katrina is not sure if this pick will work because they have a lot of strong personalities on their team.
Their challenge? To make two dishes: burgers with onion rings and coleslaw, along with fish and chips. Veronica says they can’t go wrong. They need to feed the thousands of people coming through the gates and keeping them happy, because their customers will be deciding which team wins. The losing team will be up for a pressure test elimination. They have 90 minutes to prep, and make their dishes delicious.
And so the teams gather together to start planning their dishes and who will be in charge of what. Kerry seems to have a good hold on getting his team started and getting people on their stations. They decide to do a Cajun fish and chips, and burgers with some kind of honey-Sriracha sauce. Darah seems more easy going in her approach to team leadership—maybe too easy going? She’s shown talking more about smiling and being engaging with customers than taking charge of cooking.
It turns out on the Red Team they are talking about making three different sauces for their burgers, but it’s hard doing that for 500 people! The Blue Team members think Darah is running around without really doing anything except smiling and cheering them on. Tommy and Katrina are having trouble with the fish and the onions onions because they’re using the same batter for both, and Tommy thinks Katrina is going in “slow motion” making that batter.
Time for Gordon to check in on the teams’ progress. He doesn’t think it makes sense to do three sauces for the burgers; just pick one good sauce and get focused on the volume.
Meanwhile, there’s no fish ready on the Blue Team as service is getting ready to start. Claudia is moving in on the fish station to get things started and help her team mates out as the clock is ticking down.
Red team has all beef burger with panko-crusted onion rings and a lime Sriracha ketchup served with apple cole slaw, and Cajun spiced crusted fish and chips. Blue team has cheeseburger with chipotle mayo, beer-battered onion rings and purple cole slaw, and beer battered fish and chips.
Graham reminds them that if customers have to wait more than 10 seconds for their dish they will leave without any food, and the team automatically will lose that vote. Kerry is stepping up to help with the service to make sure the Red Team doesn’t get behind on getting those dishes out. On the Blue Team, Claudia is doing a good job on the fish now, and Dan and Darah are working hard to get things moving. But now “Captain Kerry” is having a hard time balancing his cooking station and serving food. Nick thinks the Red Team is headed to the pressure test if this keeps up.
The diners are starting to cast their votes for their favorite dishes. It’s hard to tell who is doing better now as customers have seemingly split opinions. But on no, now the Blue Team is having a dreaded problem, something Claudia dreaded hearing in the kitchen: “It’s raw!” The fish she’s been cooking is coming out ice cold and raw on the inside. One more raw fish goes out to a customer and Gordon is going to close them down, he says. The batter is too thick, the problem seems to be, and now they are giving away votes because they don’t have any fish ready to serve.
Meanwhile, the Red Team is coming back into their stride after not having any onion rings ready. Nick is “getting dirty” to get those rings out there fast.
Service is finally complete. Hetal says it was like riding the tea cups at the amusement park: you leave feeling nauseated and excited at the same time. So now it’s time to announce the winning team: Red or Blue. To announce the winner, Graham comes strutting in as the marshal of a marching band.
Turns out that one team got 59% of the votes and the winning team is: Red. Kerry says he’s so glad, and that it was one of the hardest things he’s ever done.
So now the Blue Team will have to clean up the kitchens in the park before facing a pressure test the next day. Darah is pretty devastated. Derrick, Tommy, Claudia, Darah, Kristina, Hetal, Dan, Sara, Alisa, and Olivia are all up for elimination.
Back in the MasterChef kitchen, Gordon says he’s never seen a team in such disarray as the Blue Team. He wants to know what went wrong and Darah goes into a long litany of how strong everyone was until Christina shuts her up! This is about why they lost, not why their team was great, Christina says. Tommy blames it on a communication problem, particularly between himself and Katrina. Katrina however thinks Tommy didn’t do “s–t”! She is upset, but not as upset as the customers were yesterday, Gordon reminds her.
They find out that only five of their ten-member team will have elimination and Darah gets to chose who is safe. Who is the first person who is safe? Darah says it’s someone who was strong in the things she asked her to do, and who also had a “happy face”. That’s Ailsa. Graham is shaking his head like he just doesn’t get it (nor did we really see what Ailsa supposedly was doing.) Both Gordon and Graham seem pretty surprised by this choice so we can only assume it made no sense based on what they saw.
Darah next saves Claudia, then Sara—even with Gordon commenting that she had a “dismal performance”. Katrina says “This is a joke.” She is mad because Darah is saving her friends and not who worked hard. She next saves Dan because he worked hard on the assembly line. Her final choice can be herself…but what will be her answer?
After a commercial break, the answer ends up being…that Darah will save Hetal. Hetal looks shocked and says she won’t take it, she deserves to be down here for elimination and thinks it should go to Derrick instead. Gordon agrees and lets Derrick go up to the balcony, leaving Darah, Hetal, Katrina, Tommy, and Olivia to face elimination. Derrick says Darah was a terrible leader and the only thing she did right was keeping herself in the pressure test.
So, what challenge will they be facing? Tonight they are making one of Christina’s favorite things: cinnamon rolls. Tommy says baking isn’t is forte, he doesn’t even eat cinnamon rolls. He thinks he’s got to bring it because “obviously” Katrina knows more about baking than he does. Wow. Talk about being catty and fat shaming!
They will have 45 minutes to make 12 cinnamon rolls with the necessary ingredients and a limited pantry of other ingredients to make their rolls stand out.
Graham and Gordon say it’s a weird mix of people that Darah saved, and Graham thinks there’s no reason Katrina should be down there. Her and Derrick should have been the first two saved. They respect, though, that Hetal stayed down there to compete. She’s making a chai latte cinnamon roll and says they’re going to be the best. Oliva is making cinnamon rolls with alcohol in the raisins to make them more flavorful and unique.
Katrina is surprised she’s down there but that’s okay. She’s making rosemary and raisin cinnamon rolls. She doesn’t make cinnamon rolls at home but knows what flavors go well together and she’s going to work her ass off.
Tommy is going to “whoop some serious ass” with his macha green tea and pistachio cinnamon rolls and he wants to send Katrina home. They smack talk a bit but it seems more for show than anything else.
Darah is using anise and cloves in her cinnamon rolls, but she’s still making her dough when others are getting their rolls in the oven and Christina thinks they are too big, they won’t bake. But Tommy is still rolling his up and he needs at least 25 minutes for them to bake. He thinks he’s a goner, that the box the cinnamon rolls need to go into is going to be his casket!
In this time they have left, fifteen minutes, they have to get their toppings done…do something extraordinary. Perhaps a fruit reduction, chopped nuts, cream cheese, the judges discuss the possibilities. They have to get them in their boxes and glazed, quickly. Some look nice and delicate, meanwhile Tommy’s icing is just being poured on top of everything. That can’t be good!
But now, it’s time for the judges to see and taste for themselves.
They start with Darah, the Blue Team captain. She has made anise-flavored cinnamon rolls with clove, lemon zest and cinnamon icing. “Oh Darah,” Gordon says. The dough is raw. The coconut doesn’t work and she’s overcomplicated something simple and unfortunately she’s got one foot outside the door. Christina says they are not that exciting at face value, and the nutmeg and anise is almost overpowering. If she can’t execute, she’s never going to make it.
Next box up is Hetal’s. She’s really put her Indian background into the dish and she hopes the judges like it. She’s made chai latte cinnamon bun with ginger, allspice, cardamon and espresso icing. They’re kind of dreary looking, Gordon says, but there’s a fragrance there that smells delicious. Gordon loves chai, he lived on it in India. It’s a strong effort and she’s got the potential to be a really unique baker. Good job.
Next is Katrina. She’s made cinnamon rolls with rosemary, raisin and prune with lemon zest frosting. They do not look bad, Graham says, but it’s a shame she left the paper in the box. It looks good, it’s cooked, and it’s got a unique flavor with the rosemary and Graham says it’s a great effort.
Olivia has sweet cinnamon buns with rum and orange liquor, toasted pecans and an orange glaze. They look better baked but she had trouble rolling them evenly to get the pinwheel of the bun. The orange zest carries the flavor and it’s not a bad cinnamon roll, Christina says.
Last box up is Tommy’s. He is the recipient of 100% full dread from the cosmos, he says. What’s in the box? Green tea filling, cinnamon, allspice, pistachio nuts…the flavor profile is “out of this world”, Tommy says. Gordon can’t wait to see inside there. But then, he says, “What in the —- is that?” Gordon’s heard of a sick bag but this is a sick box. What has he done? He’s scared. Gordon says if he closes his eyes there are bits in there that taste decent but visually he’s shocked. It should come with a health warning, Gordon says. “Do not open in broad daylight.”
All five of them are called now to the front. The person with the best cinnamon rolls is Hetal. She gets to go up to the balcony first. Next, Katrina and Olivia are called to step forward. Both made some really “crucial mistakes”, but tonight there are two home cooks who made bigger mistakes so they are safe and going up to the balcony.
That leaves Darah and Tommy, both who had substandard efforts. Tommy got too clever, too cocky, and carried away. But Darah’s rolls undercooked, unevenly rolled, bland and boring, she was all over the place.
The person who is safe? Tommy. That means Darah is going home. The intent was there but her timing was way off, Gordon says. She leaves with her happy face on and honestly, there are no tears shed here. I was pretty sure she was on the quick-elimination list since we’ve seen almost nothing about her in the first three episodes of the season, which is usually a sure kiss of editing death. Even if Tommy’s rolls were—and certainly looked—far worse? Seems that they will be keeping him around for a while at least for the Katrina vs. Tommy battles.
Overall I thought this was an all right episode, if rather predictable. No matter what the editing gremlins tried to do, it seemed very clear that the Blue Team was not doing nearly as well as the Red Team. I was a bit surprised to see Kerry finally focused on a bit as he’s been one of the background chefs so far, but he seems to have some potential, certainly as a team leader. Right now I predict that Ailsa, Charlie, Justin, Jessie, and maybe Olivia are probably near the bottom of the pack and likely going to be eliminated fairly early on—just because we’ve either not seen much about them at all or they’ve been near the bottom, like Olivia. Other than that it’s hard for me to pick clear front runners besides Hetal and Derrick.
Another thing worth mentioning, that others have brought up as well, is that it seems nearly impossible to make traditional light and flaky cinnamon rolls in just 45 minutes! Was there some creative editing going on there that we didn’t see? Almost all cinnamon roll recipes—like this traditional one from Paula Deen—require extensive rising time (1 to 1.5 hour for the dough at first, then another period of rising once rolled out before baking.) There are recipes (like this one) for no yeast cinnamon rolls, but they seem to come out denser and more biscuit-like than the type of rolls we saw on screen here in the MasterChef kitchen.
But that aside, what do you think? Are you enjoying this season so far, or do you think it’s getting too predictable? Who do you think is looking like a strong contender at this point?
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.