“Gordon’s Greatest Hits” Produces Some Serious Misses from the Top 11
Last week, we lost Charlie and Amanda in a birthday cake challenge, leaving only 12 home cooks still standing in the MasterChef kitchen. Kerry is the first contestant we hear from in this episode—a bad sign for sure as he’s been so far in the background all season! He can’t believe he’s made it to the top twelve (neither can this viewer) and for the first time we hear that his dream is to open his own food truck. He wants it so bad, because he wants to leave his daughter a legacy. We’ll have to see about that…
Graham begins by saying he knows they’ve all left a lot behind at home to be here and to compete, so far from home and their families, so as a treat they will all be enjoying a dinner in the MasterChef restaurant that evening, prepared by Gordon Ramsay himself. He’s made a dish that’s helped put him on the culinary map: his world famous Beef Wellington with potato puree and carrots. They have to pay attention because their next challenge will be to reproduce the dish with identical plating and taste.
They are seated in pairs at the tables: Sara with Stephen, Claudia with Tommy, Christopher with Hetal, Derrick with Katrina, Shelly with Olivia, Nick with Kerry. Their plates arrive quickly so everyone is enjoying while also studying their food carefully. Derrick knows this is a huge challenge, so he’s studying every bite like he’s a surgeon.
Christina and Graham ooh and aah as Gordon explains what makes the Beef Wellington a dish “to die for”. Hetal feels she’s at a huge disadvantage being a vegetarian, so that’s why she’s sitting with Christopher to try to pick his brain about what he tastes, what the textures are like. He tells her this is purely a technical challenge and exercise, she can get it even if she won’t taste the meat.
Now that they’ve all enjoyed a 5-star entree, they have to recreate that dish. They have everything at their stations they will need to make it, and they will be at their stations next to the person they chose to have dinner with. They have 60 minutes to cook so they need to run to get started.
It’s all about precision, Gordon confirms. It’s a technical race against the clock, according to Christina. First they must sear the tenderloin, then the red wine reduction started, then get the beef resting in the marinade. Then there’s the crepe to prepare and the puff pastry which has to go on last—never mind the vegetable side dishes!
The judges start walking around to see how everyone is doing. Hetal forgot to put fat in her pan, which could be a problem. Katrina’s is not looking good and it’s not going to be pretty as the pastry isn’t sealed, it has holes and Gordon is just standing over her station going “damn”. She has to just get it in the oven and make sure her other elements are on point.
Nick and Kerry are sharing a station, are they the “beefcakes”, Christina wants to know. There seems to be a little “Bromance” brewing at their station.
With 90 seconds left they have to finish their plating, being careful about not breaking the Wellingtons and keeping all their elements composed properly. Time is called and the judges reveal there’s now another twist. Not every plate is going to be brought to the judges for tasting; when the twelve of them sat down in pairs for dinner they actually were forming their teams. The judges will only taste one dish from each pair. The two teams with the worst Beef Wellingtons will face an elimination test where they have to recreate another, even tougher, signature Gordon Ramsay dish.
“Major oy,” Olivia says to this news. But between hers and Shelly’s she says “Mine” when it comes to whose the judges will taste, even though Shelly says the only thing she’s worried about is her puff pastry.
The other teams debate just by looking at the plated dishes as they can’t taste nor see inside each others’ Wellingtons. Between Katrina and Derrick, it’s hands down going to be Derrick, they decide, even if he’s a bit worried about his crepe. Between Stephen and Sara, Stephen says it should be his. Claudia and Tommy are going with Claudia’s, and it looks like Christopher and Hetal will go with Hetal’s, surprisingly.
First up for tasting is Stephen and Sara. Stephen says his looks beautiful and he knows they made the right decision in going with his Wellington. It looks good, Gordon says, but does it taste as good? All eyes are on that first cut, which Gordon says is “beautiful”. It’s tightly rolled so it was cooked well, no gaps or air inside. Sara has to tell Stephen to calm down, he’s so excited. Gordon is thoroughly impressed, so next to taste it is Graham. Earlier they had the Gordon Ramsay Beef Wellington, Graham says, but this is the Stephen Lee’s Beef Wellington. It’s awesome, and it gives him hope for the future.
Next up is Hetal and Christopher. So, Hetal the vegetarian and Christopher the restaurant manager who cooks amazing proteins all the time, Gordon says. Gordon acts like he’s assuming it must be Christopher’s they brought up for judging but it’s actually Hetal’s. Christopher forgot to get his sauce in the cup and he didn’t want to serve the judges an incomplete dish, even though he seems to think or assume that his will be the better of the two otherwise. Gordon makes Christopher go back to their station and get his plate. Bringing it up to the judges, Christopher is so sure his is amazing. But when we see it, it’s huge, it looks like it’s meant to be served “family style” according to Gordon. “It looks like a cushion from the MasterChef lounge,” Gordon tells him. Where’s the steak? He has to feel for it inside the huge pastry like he’s hunting for a landmine. And even worse: “Bloody hell, the pastry is raw!”
Now we finally get to Hetal’s plate and of course, it’s cooked beautifully. Is it good? No, it’s (bleeping) delicious. She nailed it. It’s the best “vegetarian Beef Wellington” Gordon’s ever tasted. Christina comes up and gets on Christopher’s case even worse. She’s confused about him and shushes him when he tries to defend himself, saying “It’s my turn to talk. You wanted us to taste this?” He’s got to get his skill and technique up before running off his mouth, she shames him. Hetal’s Wellington, meanwhile, has great flavor on the beef. Christopher needs to give her credit for carrying him through the challenge, and he seems suitably chastised.
Next up is Derrick and Katrina. Obviously it’s Derrick’s Beef Wellington they’ll be tasting. It’s not the size of a mattress, at least, and he’s confident he followed all the steps. But when Graham cuts into it the steak is slightly overcooked, more medium than medium-rare, there’s space between the beef and the pastry, and he missed adding the mustard. Graham says the steak is seasoned well but definitely screaming out for that missing mustard.
Nick and Kerry are next. They went with Nick’s Wellington because the pastry is more even. It’s rolled nice and tightly but unfortunately the crepe is too thick. It should taste delicious but he also forgot the mustard. It’s a letdown for Gordon.
Shelly and Olivia follow with Olivia’s Wellington chosen, because they thought aesthetically it looked better. Christina says there’s some color on there which may equate to an over-baked filet. It’s a little less pink than it should be, and the pastry is uneven underneath. The carrots are overcooked as well, although the potato puree is fine.
Last up is Claudia and Tommy. Claudia is nervous with hers being up for tasting. It’s a pretty presentation. It’s nice and flaky, no big holes, and the meat is beautiful. How does it taste? Graham says it’s delicious, with a great use of seasoning and the mushrooms are nice and earthy. She is now a “real contender”.
So it’s time for the moment of truth; who is safe and who has to face elimination?
Three teams out of the six really excelled. Sara and Stephen are called forward, then Hetal and Christopher, and lastly Tommy and Claudia. Without a doubt all six of them are safe.
The remaining three teams fell short. Shelly and Olivia are called forward. They made some pretty big mistakes, but they are both…overly dramatic pause…safe, of course. That means Nick, Kerry, Derrick and Katrina will be facing elimination. At least one of them will be leaving. What Gordon Ramsay dish do they have to reproduce now?
The four are called over to watch carefully while the rest observe from the balcony. It’s one of Gordon’s favorite appetizers: pan-seared scallops with quail eggs, minted pea puree, truffles and crispy pancetta. The technique is what’s most important.
They have to start by taking the live scallops out of their shells, then crack the quail eggs gently so as not to break the yolks. Derrick says it’s amazing to watch Gordon in action, that everyone up in the balcony should be jealous of what the four of them are getting to see close up. Stephen says it’s like watching poetry in motion. “He’s a master of space and time!” he enthuses about Gordon.
Katrina says she has to be confident but she’s only made scallops once before in her life. They will get exactly three scallops, three quail eggs and three slices of pancetta only, so there is no room for error. They also only have 30 minutes to complete the dish.
Gordon was able to demo the plate in just fifteen minutes, but this is a dish that will separate the chefs from the cooks. The hero of the dish is the scallops, he says. Nick is feeling the pressure working with the live scallops. Kerry has never worked with scallops before and so he definitely feels vulnerable.
Derrick is looking confident even as Christina tries to get him to feel guilty about Katrina being in the elimination challenge with him. He says he’s a team player and if Katrina had thought she’d had the better Wellington they would have gone with hers. Katrina seems tense, so Gordon gives her a pep talk. She’s mostly worried about cracking the quail eggs.
Gordon is worried about Katrina, and Graham says he’s worried about Nick. Katrina, sure enough, breaks one of her quail egg yolks. (Of course with all of this focus on Katrina we can only guess that someone else is going to mess up worse than she does.) Christina suggests Katrine leave the broken egg off the plate instead of serving one that isn’t done right.
Three minutes to go and they have to start cooking the scallops and get plating. Graham thinks Kerry could do well as he’s got the skill set, whereas Christina thinks Derrick’s scallops look a little beat up. Katrina’s doing a lot of moaning and groaning while she struggles with her dish. Kerry’s pea puree looks more like pea soup as he tries to start plating. They have to run their plates up to the judging table and it’s clear Kerry’s plate is missing a lot of the elements even from a quick scan-over.
Derrick says this is the most pressure he’s felt in the competition but he got every element on the plate. He’s first up for inspection and tasting. It’s got a vibrant appearance, he’s told. The scallop is cooked beautifully, the pancetta is nice and crispy. The one issue is that he didn’t rinse the scallops long enough, there’s some grit there, but overall good effort.
Katrina is next. What happened? Graham wants to know. She left a few things off the plate including the truffles. Visually it falls apart. Did she get all the sand off the scallops? Half the things aren’t on the plate, and the half that are there don’t taste that great, Graham tells her. It was a hard challenge, and one that definitely got the better of her.
Next is Kerry. He has no excuses, there was bad time management on his part and he’s missing a lot of the elements on his plate. The quail eggs, the vinaigrette, the peas… he got them done but they are back on his station. It looks like nothing is there but the scallops and pancetta. The scallop has a nice even sear and the pancetta is done well, but with so many elements left out…just looking up and down at the other dishes, Christina wants to know if Kerry thinks his time is up? It doesn’t look good, he says, but he’s hoping he’s done better than at least Katrina on the cook of what he served.
Nick is last up. Visually it looks gorgeous, Gordon says. He has nailed the closest presentation. It’s one of the best dishes he’s done in the competition and Gordon is seriously impressed. So it seems pretty clear it’s going to come down to Katrina and Kerry as they had one really good plate (Nick’s), one middle of the road (Derrick’s), and two really bad (Katrina’s and Kerry’s).
Nick is called forward first. He was “inspirational” and he’s getting stronger and better. It’s a good job so he’s safe. One of the other three has reached the end of the MasterChef journey. That person struggled in terms of the final composition on the plate. Kerry. Katrina and Derrick can go upstairs, they are safe. Timing was his worst ingredient tonight, and he put forward the weakest dish. So we’re saying goodbye to someone we haven’t barely seen at all until tonight, which makes it hard to get too excited or upset as the episode ends.
This season continues to disappoint, week after week, with the terrible editing that makes every development and “plot twist”, every winner and every loser in the challenges, as obvious as could be. While I was glad this week focused on savory entrees and appetizers instead of desserts, that was about the only thing I really enjoyed about it. Because of course, the vegetarian who is shown to be having such trouble cooking meat is now, all of a sudden, going to do far better than the restaurant manager. Of course we’re going to focus on how much Katrina is struggling and how bad her dish is supposed to be, only to find out she is safe (again). And of course, one of the last of the background/barely-there-until-this-week contestants is going to be eliminated. I expect Sara is likely to be next as she is the only one still standing who has hardly received much screen time.
I also found Christina rather annoying as a judge this episode, more so than even in the past. It seems like she is trying too hard to be the tough judge and ends up coming across as unnecessarily harsh sometimes, like the way she felt the need to pick at Christopher and his Beef Wellington even after he knew it had failed. The whole drama around that was stupid—the team made the choice to go with Hetal’s dish, why have to turn it into big drama over the vegetarian beating the regular meat eater/cook?
Overall I feel like the show would be a lot more fun to watch this season if it were far less predictable. Perhaps that’s just a problem of it being now in the sixth season, so things that seemed different, exciting and unpredictable several years ago just are so easy to pick apart, too easy to see what’s going on behind the cameras? I’m not sure. Let’s just hope things get more interesting once we’ve gotten to the Top Ten after next week.
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!
Related posts at Spacial Anomaly
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.