It’s Time to “Bring Home the Bacon”
My apologies for the tardiness of this recap! I’ve been without power since Tuesday thanks to the Southern New Jersey storms and winds, so I have not been able to keep to my recap schedule on time.
But with that out of the way, let’s get back to the MasterChef action…
Nick is the first chef we hear from this episode…he’s been in sales for ten years but being in the MasterChef kitchen is humbling, he says. Veronica is also spotlighted at the beginning. She has been raising her family for 42 years and it’s been her “career”, but now this is her chance to reach her dream. So, who thinks Nick and Veronica are both going to get a lot of screentime this episode, with one soaring near the top and the other likely going home?
It’s time for a Mystery Box challenge. Inside their boxes, what do they find? Berries, eggs, bananas, bacon, nuts, maple syrup, tomatoes, asparagus, sausages, mushrooms, smoked salmon, and English muffins. Derrick is excited and says he’s going to win this. It’s clearly a breakfast mystery box. But the judges explain don’t want a breakfast like they’d eat at home, but a restaurant-quality, elevated breakfast prepared in 30 minutes.
Christina is counting down to their start time but Gordon halts her at the last second. There’s one extra mystery box station, and that will be taken on today by Graham. They all still have a lot to learn so they will get to watch what he does with the basket while they cook.
Nick is definitely happy about this as he considers Graham a personal hero. It’s a dream come true, he says. Graham says the ingredients are so inspiring that he’s going to make three dishes, not just one. Everyone gets started. Who can elevate breakfast? Gordon and Christina discuss what they both enjoy about the meal.
They also take time to notice how Graham is taking his time getting his station completely set up before starting to cook, which is a sign of a well-trained professional chef. He’s doing English breakfast for Gordon, stuffed french toast for Christina, and a healthy breakfast with asparagus and egg for himself.
We check in with some of the other cooks. Hetal is doing a savory French toast breakfast. Charlie is doing french toast with banana foster and bacon hash. Tommy is doing banana-stuffed french toast with candied pecans. He’s trying to pull back, he says. This is a dish he’s made at home for his husband.
Katrina is doing a blood sausage, mushroom, and asparagus frittata with a stuffed tomato filled with brioche and parsley. She loves blood sausage, it’s something she’s cooked with before and she’s not afraid of using it like some of the other home cooks. Christina says it sounds unique, and Katrina needs to keep her game face up.
Nick is doing breakfast a three part breakfast like Graham including deviled egg with mushroom-asparagus hash and a sweet french toast. Derrick is also doing breakfast trio including challah french toast and Eggs Benedict with salmon. Christina says he’s got to make sure all of his dishes are super tight if he’s going to take on so much.
With 10 minutes to go, Gordon thinks Olivia’s dish looks good. Christina says Derrick could be good. Nick’s dish also sounds good, Gordon thinks.
Graham’s dish is coming along while the home cooks finish their plates. When time is called, his dishes are the first Gordon and Christina want to take look at. First, he has for himself a smoked salmon scramble with dill salsa verde, grilled asparagus and shallots. For Christina, he’s made chocolate, hazelnut and cream cheese stuffed french toast with bruleed bananas and mint. Then for Gordon it’s an English breakfast with sausage, tomatoes and English muffin. They are clearly wowed by his presentation and the home cooks all look like they want to get a taste for themselves!
Now it’s time to taste the top three dishes by the home cooks. The judges take one more look around before making their picks. The first cook had multiple facets across their plate with savory and sweet components: Nick.
He’s happy to finally be recognized with his “Breakfast Three Ways”: French toast with berry, mint and lemon compote; deviled eggs with bacon and maple syrup; and sausage with asparagus medley. Gordon says he’s never been a fan of sweet breakfasts but it works. The deviled eggs not easy to pull of but the french toast was really amazing. Graham likes how acidic the berries are. It’s a good job. Christina really loves the story he’s telling but the deviled egg is a little sweet for her. Overall a great job though.
Next up, this chef packed a lot of flavor into their dish. Very much a home style dish: Katrina. She’s made a blood sausage, mushroom and asparagus frittata with stuffed tomato made with gruyere cheese and parsley. Graham says the frittata is delicious but could use maybe some cracked black pepper, and the tomato might be a bit big. The flavor is delicious and it’s thoughtful and Midwestern. It’s a smart dish.
The third and final dish showed a ton of technique and the plating was stunning: Derrick’s. He’s made a breakfast trio of salmon Eggs Benedict over asparagus, brioche french toast with blueberry and raspberry sauce, and creme Anglaise with a bit of mint. Christine says it’s amazing. She likes that the french toast is not too sweet, a really nice balance of flavors and textures. Gordon says they are two of the most technical sauces he prepared here, and he’s nailed them. It’s a great, great dish.
The person who made the best dish? Derrick thinks he deserves it, and sure enough by unanimous decision he gets the win. He now gets to find out his advantage in the elimination test in the pantry. It turns out his first advantage is, of course, not having to cook. He will now choose what everyone else will be cooking.
Christina begins that sometimes we don’t always have the luxury of cooking from fresh ingredients…sometimes we have to reach into the back of the freezer. Low and behold, Christina presents Derrick with a Salisbury steak TV dinner complete with broccoli and mac and cheese. Gordon has his own favorite old school TV dinner: “Mom’s Meatloaf” with mixed veggies and red potatoes. Gordon has the third and final choice, roast turkey with gravy, green beans and mashed potatoes…the first TV dinner ever produced. The other cooks will have to do something based on these TV dinner meals and Derrick is so glad he’s safe from this challenge. But which will he pick?
When they return to the MasterChef kitchen the judges announce the theme of the challenge as Derrick goes up to the balcony, safe. Veronica is very excited to hear it’s going to be a TV dinner challenge. Derrick chose the Salisbury steak with mushroom gravy, broccoli and mac and cheese. Olivia says she doesn’t even know what Salisbury steak is so she is not too happy about this. The judges want to see an elevated version of this TV dinner classic. They only have 5 minutes in the pantry to “shop” and then 60 minutes to cook their dish.
Claudia says Salisbury steak is one of her favorite dishes so she’s pretty happy as they get shopping. Hetal is completely lost, being a vegetarian who never cooks beef and she doesn’t even know what she is supposed to be elevating.
Before they start cooking, Graham pauses them and tells Derrick he gets yet another advantage. He can target one home cook who must stand back, watch and do no cooking for 15 minutes at the start of the elimination challenge. He ends up picking Christopher. Derrick says Christopher’s a strong cook so it’s a purely strategic choice, but that Chris will take it personally and that could definitely screw him up mentally. Seems like a pretty smart choice.
They get cooking and we see a little of what some of the home cooks are making. Nick is doing his grandmother’s meatballs and turning them into a Salisbury steak type dish. Olivia is also doing Salisbury steak-style meatballs, baked mac and cheese with bacon. She thinks Salisbury steak is “disgusting” but hopefully she can magically make it into something good.
Shelly is doing Jamaican-style Salisbury steak with Scotch bonnet peppers and scallions to give it some heat. Christopher finally gets to start cooking as the first fifteen minutes are up. Jesse is doing venison Salisbury steak with pickled broccoli, fried macaroni and cheese. He gets warned about not letting the venison get overcooked and too dry. The judges come to Veronica to find out how she is going to elevate her plating, because that is where she has stumbled in the past even when her flavors were good. She says she’s happy it’s a TV dinner challenge because her dish is going to look like a TV dinner. Uh. Christina and Graham look at her like she’s gone a little crazy, or dense. Has she been paying attention to anything about this challenge yet, that she’s supposed to elevate the meal and not just recreate it. Please keep in mind presentation and elevation, Christina tells her.
Hetal is doing a twist on Salisbury steak by using Tandoori spices and mushrooms, although she is allergic to mushrooms so it’s kind of the worst challenge for her. She seems completely lost. Gordon reminds her she can ask someone else to taste her dish for her. Gordon is nervous about her, and also Jessie’s venison which could easily go dry. Christina says Christopher’s performance has been hugely affected by his penalty—we see him light one of his pans on fire. He looks manic and panicked as usual.
The clock is ticking down and Hetal says she is going home for sure based on her plate. Of course, normally whenever someone says that on this show, it never ends up being the case! Christopher is first up before the judges and he’s very nervous, because he did not have time to taste anything or even take the ring mold off his mac and cheese.
He’s done beef and lamb Salisbury sliders with cheese fusilli and sherry-sauteed broccolini. Gordon tastes first and says based on this performance and his past performances, he wants to take 15 minutes off Christopher’s time every time, because he loves it. Graham says the broccolini is tasty and the sauce is spot on, silky. Christina says the mac and cheese is her favorite part. Just like Jesus, Christopher says, he’s risen again.
Hetal is next and she thinks her dish “looks like ass”. She’s ashamed and doesn’t want to serve it to anyone. She has Tandoori-spiced Salisbury Steak with broccoli and mac ‘n cheese. She doesn’t even want Gordon to eat it and he is disappointed the mac and cheese is watery. It’s depressing. He wants to know if she’s given up, if that’s her best. She says no, she doesn’t want to leave but she freaked out having to cook the beef. Gordon reminds her they have had vegetarians on the show before who have gotten into the top 5, top 10, so she is going to have to get used to overcoming these hurdles. It might be her last performance and it certainly was her worst.
Next up is Olivia. She has mini Salisbury meatballs with sage and mushroom gravy, mac ‘n cheese with bacon and herbs, and lemon chili roasted broccoli. Christina tastes and says she really likes it. It’s just a punch of flavor with every element.
Next is Shelly with her Jamaican Salsibury steak with chili-oil broccolini and creamy, crunchy, three-cheese mac. Graham says the seasoning in the steak is “Jamaican me crazy”.
Veronica comes up next with a huge plate of Salisbury steak with wine and mushroom sauce, mac ‘n cheese and “yummy” broccoli. “It’s a Hungry Man dinner,” she says with pride. Gordon looks at it, though, and says she completely missed the objective. He wanted one portion, elegant and upscale, and this looks like it was fit for “King Kong’s kitchen.” How many times has he asked her to refine things down to a plate? But she wants to argue that it is refined. Meanwhile, Gordon pours off a huge amount of liquid from her broccoli. He’s done. It’s a mess, and he’s concerned she’s not getting the point. He says she’s cooking like this is a Vegas buffet “and three parts are filled up with puke”. Veronica just hopes someone else does much worse than she did.
Nick has Italian-style Salisbury meatballs with a white wine mushroom sauce, broccolini with pancetta, and mac ‘n cheese. Christina tastes the meatballs first and says they are really delicious and she loves the texture of the mac ‘n cheese. It’s a good job.
Last up that we see is Jesse. He feels confident with his dish even as Gordon says it’s one of the most bizarre-looking plates of the night. It’s venison Salisbury steak with mushrooms cooked in duck fat, pickled broccoli wrapped in prosciutto and fried mac ‘n cheese. Gordon loves what he did with the mushrooms “however”…the venison is dry. It’s like swallowing a mouthful of sand, Gordon says, but Jesse argues it’s not that dry. That’s just venison. Gordon tells him he knows venison, he’s cooked it thousands of times and when it turns from red to bright white, it’s dry. Lesson to learn here: do not argue back with Gordon Ramsay!
So, at least one person is going home, we’re reminded. But there were two standout dishes tonight, and those were Nick and Olivia’s. They are safe and will be team captains in the next challenge—Olivia looks more frightened than excited by the prospect. But of course, then, the three worst dishes are called up. The first person is Hetal, then Veronica, and lastly Jesse.
Veronica is asked to step forward first. Time and time again, Graham says, she is falling into the bottom of the pack. Her time is now up. As she leaves she says she’s proud she was the oldest person to be in the MasterChef kitchen to date.
Hetal and Jessee look relieved as the good news is they are now down to the top 15 home cooks. But! The bad news is they are going to go down to 14, right now. One more person will be leaving shortly. Hetal has hit a huge stopping block, they say, and Jesse has looked like a petulant teenager at times. The person leaving tonight is Jesse. It’s sad to be leaving but he will just keep working, he says, and hopefully open a restaurant to fulfill his dreams. And don’t overcook your venison!
To me this was a pretty predictable episode from the way it was edited together, but at least we got to see a lot of cooking and some different personalities of the chefs’ styles are starting to come through. And I am so glad we are finally done with Veronica! She has annoyed me from the start with all of her mother/grandmother bragging and how she has to present every dish going on about how “yummy” or “delicious” this or that element is…let the judges decide that for themselves! I normally want to cheer on the older contestants on this show as it comes across sometimes as quite ageist, but not in Veronica’s case.
Meanwhile I’m a little surprised to see Jesse gone so soon. I thought we’d seen some signs of his skill before but he definitely made a mistake in arguing with Gordon. Getting defensive never helps anyone on this show.
Derrick, one of my early favorites, is still going strong and making it very clear he is one to beat right now. But are they going to try to make him look too confident and too arrogant? I am still leaning toward the possibility of a Derrick vs. Shelly finale at this time. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see as there are still quite a few eliminations yet to go before we even get into the top 10, let alone the top 5 or 6 which is when it really heats up in the MasterChef kitchen!
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.