The Finale, Part 1
It’s down to the final three contestants left in the MasterChef kitchen: Christine, Becky and Josh. They are about to face their last Mystery Box challenge as well, which turns out to contain only one thing: a blank cookbook with their photo on the cover. For two of the contestants, these blank books will be nothing but a souvenir from their time on the show. But for one of them, it will be filled with their recipes. Their challenge in the next hour is to create a dish worthy of inclusion in the cookbook, and the judges will all be tasting each of them. When asked who she would dedicate her cookbook to, Christine says her mother. Her mother died when Christine was only 14, and never left any of her recipes written down. So one of Christine’s passions with food is trying to re-create her mothers recipes. It’s a teary moment that certainly sets the tone for this next challenge!
Both Josh and Christine seem to have things under control as they start cooking, but Becky seems to be having difficulty. She botched filleting her fish so only has two small pieces in her pan, which Gordon calls her out for – along with wasting the rest of the filets to just make fish stock. So Becky scrambles and changes her plans to prepare a fish soup instead. Not a good start on a recipe that’s supposed to be “cookbook worthy”, but we’ll see how the tasting goes…
Up first is Josh who has prepared Curried Cornish Hen with Basmati Rice. All three of the judges love it and how it showcases his understanding and skill with spices. Christine is equally successful with her Vermicelli Stir Fry with Seared Scallops. Gordon was excited to see her get the wok out, Joe likes the sweetness and spicy flavor balance, and Graham comments on how the flavor of the scallops themselves just shine through. Becky is last with her Loup de Mer Soup with Sunchoke Puree, and also seems to be in last place with the judges as well. Joe agrees with Gordon that the portion size is still to small, and worse, her fish is dry. Graham just doesn’t think it succeeds as a cohesive dish and it really seems that this one time front runner in the competition is starting to seriously falter.
Indeed, they declare that the dishes in order from best to worst are 1. Christine, 2. Josh and 3. Becky. So Christine gets a huge advantage for the next (and last) elimination challenge. The challenge will focus on legs: chicken legs, leg of lamb, and frog legs. Christine gets first pick on which of these three ingredients she wants, and she chooses the “humble” chicken leg for its versatility. Josh gets second pick, which means he also gets to chose for Becky. He takes leg of lamb for himself, not just because it would have been his first pick but because he thinks Becky has never cooked frog legs before. It turns out he is right, and she hasn’t even tasted them previously – so it will be a real challenge to even pick the ingredients she needs to prepare them in 10 minutes.
The chefs rush through the pantry to collect their supporting ingredients, and return to the kitchen for a surprise: the eliminated contestants from the Top 18 are there to cheer them on! Gordon asks some of them who they think is going to win MasterChef – Monti says Christine, Frank says Becky, and Ryan says Josh. Well, it’s time to find out which two will make it to the final battle, so the eliminated contestants are up to the balcony while Christine, Becky and Josh get to work.
Everyone seems to have things under control, except perhaps Josh as the judges worry if he’ll finish his dish in time and get it plated – but he does. The tasting begins with Christine, who has made Southern-Style Fried Chicken with Creamy Kale. All three of the judges love her chicken and the way she’s spiced the batter and added acidity with blood orange. But, none of them particularly like her kale side dish, which had too much cream. Joe even grills her on whether she tasted it or not.
Josh is next, and he’s made a dish from Panama called Lamb Carimanolas. They are plated with a trio of salsas: mango, tomato and tomatillo. Joe opens the tasting by saying this is a very risky dish, one that is usually on the “last page” of the lamb cookbook – but Josh has done it justice after all. The Carimanolas are crispy and the flavors of the salsas pure and delicious. Graham also complements Josh on his plating. So it seems Josh will be a sure winner and on to the final two, as there seem to be no real criticisms of his dish. That leaves Becky’s frog leg dish to be the last one tasted.
Joe declares the legs “good” (not great), but really doesn’t like the potatoes. She’s added red wine to them which seems to be an inexplicable choice, as they are soggy and just very unappealing. Indeed, none of the judges like the potatoes, even though Gordon says she’s done a great job on the frog legs and it certainly doesn’t seem as though she’d never cooked them before.
The judges have a lengthy discussion on who will go forward, and the real issue seems to be who made the worst error with their vegetable side: Christine and her overly-creamy kale, or Becky and her soggy potatoes. When the results are announced, as expected Josh is the first to be told he will go on to the last battle. That means either Christine or Becky will be going home – and it turns out to be Becky. Christine will be facing off against Josh in the last battle for the title of MasterChef.
Becky seems understandably disappointed, but Gordon tells her that she needs to be working in the food industry and that the doors to his restaurants are open to her. On Monday, September 10, we’ll get to see who will indeed win the cookbook deal, $250,000 and the title of “MasterChef” for 2012. Who are you cheering on to win it all?
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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