Something “Fishy” Is Going On Tonight!
We’re down to the final nine hopeful chefs, and the competition should really be heating up now. So why did I feel like this episode was so predictable and a bit of a let down? Perhaps I’ve just become too used to FOX’s “editing for drama’s sake” – indeed, my partner can confirm that several times last night I exactly predicted how things were going to play out, down to actually predicting the words to come from Gordon’s mouth during the final elimination!
In any event, the episode begins with a mystery box challenge: sea urchin. Urchin (or “uni”) can be absolutely delicious with a rich, oceany flavor, but preparing it can be quite a challenge – beginning with working around its poisonous, painful spines. Gordon gives all of the chefs a demonstration on how to cut open the urchin, including having Christine feel what he’s done so she’s not just working on his words alone. The contestants will be given a limited pantry and 60 minutes to create something special with the urchin.
As the chefs cook, the judges go around asking who they think is going to have a hard time with the uni and go home. A lot of comments about Monti are highlighted – who besides me now knows she’s going to do well this episode since the editing is setting her up for failure? Well, she doesn’t make the Top Three dishes that the judges end up tasting; those belong to Felix, Josh and Stacey. Felix made a risotto with sea urchin and peas, which looks beautiful and wins praise across the board from the judges. Josh went for a homemade pasta with rock shrimp and uni cream sauce. When quizzed by Joe about what kind of noodles they are, Josh falters but Joe complements his instincts on knowing what shape and size noodle would work best for the urchin. Stacey has made rock shrimp sushi topped with uni – a great idea if perhaps a bit of a “safe” approach? (Uni is quite frequently enjoyed as a sushi delicacy.) She gets praise from both Gordon and Joe, particularly about being a “dark horse” in the competition right now.
Felix is selected as the winner of the three, and she certainly seems happy for the chance at “redemption” after falling back in the pack in recent challenges. The seafood theme is set to continue as Felix gets to choose which of nine different types of fish she will be cooking, and which ones her competitors will get. Some are described as being much simpler than others to prepare, so she can certainly give what appear to be advantages and disadvantages to whomever she wants. She picks the halibut for herself, even though it could be a challenge according to the judges. Again, who sees where this is going? Who besides me can begin to predict that those given the “easier” fish are likely to falter, while those who get the “harder” fish are going to come out on top? That by giving herself a challenge, Felix will put herself in danger of going home? That’s certainly what happened last season in a similar challenge involving different cuts of pork, so I had a feeling I knew exactly how this challenge would play out…
In any event, her assignments are as follows: Becky gets Rock Fish (a challenge – again Becky is being portrayed as arrogant by the editing), Frank gets Catfish (predicted to be tough for him because it’s not a fish he’s worked with a lot), Monti gets John Dory (considered one of the hardest fish to cook), David gets Yellowtail, Christine gets Salmon (the “easiest”), Josh gets Sardines, Tali gets Arctic Char and Stacey gets Striped Bass. They have 60 minutes to make their dishes, so the pressure is on.
During the cooking fury that follows, we again get a lot of comments about how Monti will falter, Monti should/will fail, Monti only knows how to memorize recipes from cookbooks, etc…of course watching all of MasterChef to date by now I knew that meant she was of course going to do well. More interesting to me to follow was how other chefs were faltering with what should have been easy fishes to succeed with. Tali is using a sous-vide approach to cooking his Actic Char, which Gordon questions – indeed soon before serving Gordon says the fish is cold and Tali’s technique will likely kill everything good about the flavor of the fish. Tali disagrees, but of course we will see what happens. Christine is going for a very simple approach with her salmon – too simple, perhaps, to impress the judges? And David’s hot sauce may be too much according to Joe.
First up for tasting is Felix, who has prepared her Halibut with Bamboo Rice, Asparagus and a Lemon Apple Sauce. But as could be predicted, her efforts to “challenge herself” have backfired – the fish is dry and overcooked. Monti is up next with John Dory, Asparagus and Roasted Almond Sauce. She is praised by the judges, naturally, and lots of comments are made about how Felix failed at her “plan” to take out Monti with a challenging fish. Frank, supposedly also set up for failure with the Catfish, has prepared a Fried Catfish with Eggplant and Coconut Leek Sauce. It seems like he’s ended up with a winning dish as well.
After two winners comes another dud – not surprisingly from David, whose yellowtail is completely raw and outright cold in the center, according to Joe. Could David finally be going home tonight after so many failures during these challenges? Tali’s Actic Char with Green Lentils is as bad as Gordon expected it would be – the lentils are cooked to the point of exploding, and there is no praise for his dish from any of the judges.
We don’t see the tastings of Josh or Stacey’s dishes, so we can assume they’ll be safe, even if they didn’t shine with their preparations. Christine’s salmon is tasted last – she’s done a very basic Baked Salmon with rice and vegetables. But her breadcrumb crust on the fish is still “raw” according to Gordon, the salmon dry and too well done – it’s her worst performance to date and enough to put her in danger of going home (although it’s hard to imagine that the show’s most popular contestant will be dismissed on her first real failure on camera.)
So, unsurprisingly, Monti and Frank get picked for having the best two dishes, making them team captains next time – now there’s a showdown I’m looking forward to seeing tonight! (In case it’s not obvious at this point I’m very well encamped in “Team Frank” based on his food and the way he’s presented himself on camera without all the drama, backstabbing and trash talk compared to some of the other competitors). That leaves Christine, David and Tali at the bottom, but of course after a brief cliffhanger Christine is told she is safe, and Tali is sent home (at last). Hopefully that means we will soon see the departure of David as well, as he’s just failed too many times at this point and the rest of the remaining eight seem far beyond his level.
If I were to predict right at this moment, I suspect that the final four contestants will end up being Becky, Christine, Frank and Monti. Of course, there can always be some surprises along the way if someone badly messes up in a challenge, but they seem the strongest overall – although Christine may not make it if she can’t step up the complexity of some of her dishes and fails again at something simple like baked salmon.
For more on Season Three of MasterChef US including polls and background information on all contestants, check out my full season hub!
MasterChef US 2012: Season 3
MasterChef has been a hit television sensation all around the world. Learn about the contestants from Season Three, which aired in the summer/fall of 2013 on the FOX Network.
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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.