Five to go…
With only five contestants left, things are going to get seriously intense in the MasterChef kitchen. It’s time for a Mystery Box challenge – but when the chefs open their boxes, they find them empty! So what’s the challenge? Each will take their empty box to the pantry and pick out up to 15 ingredients to then cook whatever they’d like with them. They are to think hard and really use this opportunity to show off their best talents. The chefs are all excited by this possibility and picking ingredients that play up to their strengths: Asian sauces and ingredients for Christine, sweet ingredients for Monti, Italian ingredients for Frank, etc. But just as they are about to start cooking, they find out there’s another twist: they have to swap boxes with one of the other contestants! Monti ends up with Christine’s box; Josh gets Frank’s; Frank gets Monti’s; Christine gets Becky’s; Becky gets Josh’s. No one seems particularly happy with this change – Becky is miffed she doesn’t get to cook with the perfect combination of ingredients she’d chosen, and Monti is not familiar or comfortable with a lot of the ingredients in Christine’s box.
The judges watch and observe that they don’t think Monti will do well with her ingredients, either. Becky is confident she can still come up with something terrific with Josh’s ingredients – but then gets upset as time runs out and she realizes she left a crucial element of her dish – the crispy chicken skin – in the oven. The judges are only going to taste three of the dishes prepared, and they select Josh, Monti and Christine as the top three for the challenge.
The tasting starts with Josh’s take on Frank’s ingredients. Whereas Frank wanted to make an Italian dish with sausage, Josh has made Savory Bread Pudding with Pork, Onion Rings and Mozzarella. The judges all love it and complement him highly on working so well even after the curveball of switching ingredients. Monti is next, and she’s made Tom Kha Gai (a Thai sweet and spicy soup) with Chicken, Coconut Milk and Lemongrass. The judges say she’s done a great job, although a few of her ingredient inclusions are not traditional or standard for Tom Kha Gai. Christine is last. With Becky’s ingredients, she has made Pan-Seared Chicken with Beet and Goat Cheese Salad. Her dish is praised highly for the way she has let her palate guide her cooking, coming up with a wonderful dish.
Joe, Gordon and Graham deliberate and select Josh as the winner of the Mystery Box challenge. He is led into the pantry where his advantage is revealed: he will chose between three dishes prepared by Graham – each one for a very special original diner. All five of them will have to try to recreate this one dish impeccably – although if they think they can improve upon it in some way, they may. One dish was originally prepared for Jay-Z, one for Oprah Winfrey, the last for President Barack Obama. Josh selects the White Tuna Sashimi prepared for President Obama.
The judges reveal Josh’s selection to the contestants, allowing each of them time to study the plating carefully, taste it, and in Christine’s case feel the dish and ask for visual descriptions of it. They will only have 30 minutes to complete the recreation of the dish, so the pressure is seriously on. Josh decides he is going to add mango to the passion fruit sauce that is on the sashimi, whereas the others are all content to try to recreate the dish precisely as Graham prepared it. A smart move or a dumb one? The judges seem to think it’s the latter, and so do the other chefs! The judges also are worried when they see Monti going for cream to add to the avocado sauce. That’s not in Graham’s original dish and they are also worried about how thick and poorly she is slicing the tuna. Josh, too, is struggling with his knifework.
30 minutes are gone in a flash and it’s time for the tasting. Christine is first, and despite all of the doubts as to how she would be able to recreate the dish well without her sight, she knocks out a near perfect plate. Gordon goes as far to ask if he’s being “punked”. But it’s no practical joke, Christine has done it and she definitely appears safe. Monti is next, and as Graham feared the cream has been a bad choice and it’s just not one of her better performances. Frank is third, and he too scores highly with a perfect recreation of Graham’s dish. Becky, however, does not fair as well. She seems to be slipping in performance, the judges say, so she’s going to need to shape up if she wants to stay in it. Josh is last, and the judges are disappointed given the advantage he had to pick a dish he thought he could shine with. They don’t agree with his decision to add the mango, the fish is inconsistently cut and plated, and it’s overall a disappointment. Now the judges have to decide who is going home.
After deliberation, the judges pick Christine as the winner for having the best dish. The bottom three are Josh, Becky and Monti. Becky is first to be declared safe, even though she has been letting them down recently. That leaves Monti and Josh. Monti is asked to step forward, and told that while she has gone far and impressed them with her skills and approach, it is time for her to go home to her son. Before leaving, she is asked who she think will win the competition, and she says Christine.
Next week should be an extremely intense battle as it will determine which three chefs will go on to the finale. It certainly seems like tough competition at this point: Josh, who managed to battle back after being eliminated before, yet sometimes seems to let his arrogance and attitude get in the way of his cooking. Becky, who has shown incredible skill and technical ability before, but also can let her emotions and self-confidence get the better of her and appears in danger of falling from early dominance. Christine, who continues to amaze and inspire with her incredible sense of taste and determination, yet who could still fail without her vision to help her. Frank, who remains calm, cool, and clearly well-skilled, but perhaps not as adventurous in his dishes and needing to come out to really shine at this stage of the game.
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.