The Top 9 Compete
This week there’s only one new episode to recap – a bit of a relief to me, I must admit, as two full hours of MasterChef are an awful lot to write up at once!
It’s Mystery Box time, and under their box they find a sausage grinder. James is happy; only “bad people” don’t like sausages, he says. Bri looks a little concerned about the array of meat they have to choose from, until she sees there’s a selection of vegetarian-friendly options like tempeh and tofu.
They have 60 minutes to create their sausage dish. It’s a “Meat Festival” to Jordan, who is happily going for pork for his Midwestern-style Bratwurst. Natasha is doing a chicken, apple and bacon sausage alongside eggs and hash. There’s also going to be some cheese in her sausage as chicken can be too lean. Bethy is doing a hickory bacon and wild boar sausage. Bri went for seitan in her vegetarian sausage. Eddie is doing a pork sausage with apple chutney that the judges think look pretty amazing. Krissi is going South Philly style with pork and fat back, peppers and onions. Luca seems to be having trouble, whatever kind of sausage he’s making, as his exploded in the pan!
The top three-looking dishes they choose to taste are Eddie’s, Krissi’s and Natasha’s. Eddie ends up the winner will be in charge of the elimination challenge. Each of the three judges present an ingredient they use “all the time” in their restaurants. Joe presents Eddie with an array of ham products; Graham has mushrooms; Gordon has shrimp.
Eddie won’t have to cook, but gets to choose from these three options for the other chefs. He goes for the mushrooms “without question”. He thinks it’ll be a challenging ingredient to some of the others because people won’t know how to make the mushrooms the star of the plate.
There’s one more twist. Half of the chefs will have to cook with canned mushrooms, the others will get the fresh varieties. Eddie is thoughtful in his choices; he gives the fresh mushrooms to Jordan, James, Bri and Bethy and the canned to Krissi, Jessie, Natasha and Luca. He expects Jordan and James to mess up with the fresh and Jessie to struggle with the canned – those are his main “targets”.
Bethy is making some kind of “Szechuan” mushroom stir fry but as the judges sample it, there’s nothing sweet to balance out the spicy flavors. She forgot to get sugar in the pantry and she’s screwed unless she can borrow some from another contestant. Jordan kindly offers her some so at least she can try to salvage her meal.
Meanwhile, Luca is making a mushroom soup. Bri is happy and is going to make some kind of plate with an onion puree with grilled wild mushrooms. Jordan is making wild mushroom ravioli with a mushroom beet cream sauce. Natasha is also making a kind of ravioli.
Time’s up and the judges call each person up for tasting, one by one. Bethy is up first with her stir fry and the first comment on the plate is that their seems to be a lot of noodle for the amount of mushroom. Graham thinks the mushrooms are totally overwhelmed by the sesame oil and ginger; Joe thinks the kinds of mushrooms they were given were more European than Asian and it doesn’t work because their flavor is completely gone.
Natasha is next. With the canned mushrooms she made mushroom ravioli with crispy pancetta. Joe says the tarragon she’s used in it is a good decoy for the canned mushrooms; it’s a good job. Gordon says the pasta is cooked nice. “It’s a $1 can elevated into a $10 dish,” Gordon says.
James has made wild mushroom chowder with creme fraiche and arugula. Graham says it’s way too heavy and rich even if it’s seasoned well. Joe says it’s too salty. Jessie is next with her mushroom risotto with leeks and pancetta. Gordon says she’s hidden the mushrooms and it’s a smart dish.
Luca is next with his cream of mushroom soup, vegetables and croutons. But it doesn’t look like a soup, it’s too thick to Graham. The problem also is the truffle oil at the end to finish it – he didn’t need to use it.
Krissi has mushroom cassoulet with eggplant and pancetta. The pancetta is a good idea, Joe says, and it’s “pretty impressive”. Bri is next with a dish she calls “A Walk Through The Forest” with sage, beet and goat cheese salad. Cue some talking head shots of Krissi complaining and rolling her eyes, but Graham says it’s really great – and better than anything are the mushrooms as they are truly the star. Joe says it’s all cooked perfectly and it’s fabulous. Sorry, Krissi!
Next is Jordan with his mushroom ravioli and beet cream sauce. Gordon says he overshot it entirely – that it would cook the same with canned instead of fresh mushrooms; Joe says he’s hidden the beauty of the mushrooms.
So, who had the two standout dishes? First was Natasha for being able to elevate the canned mushrooms with her ravioli. The dish of the night, however, belonged to Bri.
Who had the worst dishes? First, it was “almost an embarrassment for Jordan”. Second was muddled, confused and overdone…James. The third “lackluster” dish was Bethy’s. Interesting that it was three of the four competitors who had fresh mushrooms, so Eddie’s plan worked pretty well. James however is safe, so it’s down to Bethy and Jordan.
This didn’t seem particularly surprising to me at all – Bethy hasn’t been much of a standout “character” in the show all season so I’ve just been waiting to see how long before she ended up getting the boot (no way she would make it to the top six, as I saw it.) She’s asked before she leaves who she thinks will win and she predicts it will be Jessie. She could be right, but I’m hoping at this point that it’s a guy’s turn at last to take it all home – perhaps even Eddie at this point as he’s coming on strong and likable. They couldn’t even succeed in trying to make him look mean or mocking while the other chefs struggled with his picks in elimination, as he kept a pretty stone cold expression the entire time.
Overall I thought this was a pretty good episode, with much more focus on food and cooking than unnecessary drama and meanness (save for Krissi, who just can’t seem to be nice no matter what.)
Looking for more on MasterChef Season 4? Then check out my season Hub Page:
MasterChef US 2013: Season 4
Who will be the next MasterChef? Find out in Season 4 of the intense cooking competition where talented “home cooks” compete for the ultimate title – and prize! Learn more about the contestants in my hub for the season, share your opinions in weekly polls, and check out video highlights as well.
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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.