The Finale, Part 2
We’re here at last: the final battle of MasterChef season three. Christine Ha vs. Joshua Marks – perhaps not the final face-off many of us had expected in a season full of surprises (such as Josh’s comeback after elimination) and Becky’s “fall” after being one of the early favorites to get to the end. The format for this final battle will be familiar to those who have watched previous seasons of MasterChef: the two finalists will have 2 hours to prepare a cohesive, 3-course meal for the judges. To cheer the contestants on, both the previously eliminated contestants and Josh and Christine’s families are there to watch from the balcony. It should be an exciting competition.
Very quickly both Josh and Christine are off to the pantry to get their ingredients and start cooking. Both are going to approaches that will play off their strengths: Christine is cooking a traditional Asian-themed menu as her mother would have cooked; Josh is going for a global approach embracing the bold flavors and complex dishes which has won him past challenges. The judges see strengths and weaknesses in each of their approaches: is Christine playing it too safe? Is Josh’s menu not cohesive enough, and is he taking too many risks? Christine is sticking with cooking techniques such as braising and using the pressure cooker which don’t rely on vision as much to tell when properly cooked and done. Josh, meanwhile, is working on meat and seafood dishes which could very easily come out undercooked or overcooked. The judges are worried especially as Josh makes a sauce reduction using the entire lobster shell from his poached lobster. Will it work or not? They’ll find out during the tasting.
After two hours are up, the judges take their seats and it’s time for the tasting, course by course. For an appetizer, Josh has prepared a beautifully plated twist on Southern “Shrimp and Grits“, instead using butter poached lobster, grits and sweet potato. The judges love every aspect of it except for one thing: his lobster is undercooked. Christine has prepared a cold glass noodle salad with crab and fish sauce vinaigrette. Joe thinks it is perfect as is, but both Graham and Gordon think it could have used more crab.
Next up are the entrees. Again, Josh has a beautifully plated rack of lamb served with peas, carrots and parsnips with a light green curry sauce. His lamb is cooked perfectly and Joe compares it to Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” – a celebration of Spring (lamb), Summer (peas), Autumn (carrots) and Winter (parsnips). Gordon is not so enthusiastic about his mixing of seasonal ingredients, and the question remains is it enough to serve a “simple” rack of lamb? Christine has prepared a pork belly in a classic Vietnamese style, topped with quail egg and served over rice with fried kale and maitake mushrooms. Graham and Gordon both praise its flavor but question its simple presentation, which may not be enough to truly be “MasterChef” quality. Joe finds the dish a bit sweet as well.
That leaves dessert. Josh has made a twist on classic Pecan Pie by adding bacon to the crust, and served it with vanilla cinnamon ice cream. All three judges praise the ice cream but the pie is not quite as successful – Graham finds the crust oily and Gordon says there’s not enough bacon to merit its inclusion and add to the flavor. Christine has prepared a sorbet of coconut and lime with a ginger tuile. The tuile is beautiful, Graham says, but the flavor of the coconut is overpowering the lime. Gordon likes it as a refreshing finish after the pork belly and Joe likes its lightness as well.
So, who had the winning meal? It seems the judges can find good and bad points with each meal. Christine’s was very consistent with very few off notes, but was it truly polished enough to be “MasterChef” level? Where is evidence of the journey she has taken on the series, throughout the many battles, by sticking with a safe and traditional meal? Josh, meanwhile, has taken a lot of risks and nailed quite a few of them with his meal, but there were a few notable missteps, especially the undercooked lobster. It also was not as cohesive and perhaps too many heavy, rich flavors.
The judges finally come out to announce the winner, and it turns out to be Christine. There are quite a few tears shed on screen (and a few in this household as well, but I won’t name names…) and the show finishes with Gordon promoting viewers to consider trying out for Season 4 of MasterChef, which will begin casting this Fall.
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.