July 15, 2014 | Posted in EPISODE RECAPS, REALITY TV | By

Screen capture from the July 14 2014 episode of MasterChef.

Screen capture from the July 14 2014 episode of MasterChef. Watch it now at Amazon Instant Video.

It’s a “Great American” MasterChef this week as the remaining fourteen home cooks head to Culver City, California for the next team challenge to test their skills…and speed. As the competition narrows, the competitors think it’s time that the best cooks will standout from the rest. Elizabeth thinks that Courtney, Christine, Willie, and Jamie seem to be at the top—along with herself of course.

The cooks enter Dinah’s Family Restaurant; Cutter says he thinks he’s back in Texas. Gordon, Joe and Graham are there to greet them, already enjoying some food at the counter. They announce that the home cooks will be split into two teams to cover the busiest shift of the day. Each team will cook for one-half of the diner’s customers.

The team captain selection is different than usual, however, as the judges are going to be picking team captains. The judges want to see more of some people. Elise is praying she doesn’t get picked. The first team captain for Red is Christine. The second team captain has a “big heart, big flavors and big…Willie”. Willie’s excited. The team pick is different too as the two teams will be split boys on Willie’s team, girls on Christine’s team. Courtney says “girls rule and boys drool.” Leslie thinks the boys have the advantage as this is more of a guy-style cooking.

But Gordon isn’t happy with it being strictly men versus women, so each team gets to decide on one person from the other team they want for their team. Christine says Red Team is taking someone who is a “beast” when motivated: Christian. Big Willie says he is taking someone who has proven themselves in previous group challenges: Victoria.

The team leaders will be expediting in the kitchen. The diners will get a “Masterchef dollar” and if they are happy with their dish they will put that dollar in their team’s tip jar. The team with the least tips will face a pressure test. The menu is all about timing, communication and quality control because the food is basic: egg breakfast, fried chicken with green beans, club sandwich and pancakes.

The doors open and the diners, many of them regulars of Dinah’s, start coming in. Courtney says Christine is ruling with an iron fist and they’re off to a good start. Blue team is struggling a bit getting things under control. Willie is overwhelmed and Victoria says everything is unraveling.

Francis thinks Willie is confused even if it’s fantastical and magical and filled with unicorns. (What? Okay, Francis.) Graham gives Willie some help on how to read the orders as things are getting confused. Red and Blue team are both getting good feedback from the customers on the taste of their food. But now the Red Team has incomplete orders sitting in the window, Elise is struggling on the club sandwiches and slowing down everything. She is completely blocking service. (Really, how hard is it to prepare a club sandwich? Apparently to her it’s the hardest thing ever, she’s either smashing things down too much or not cutting her bread neatly.)

Meanwhile the Blue Team is having trouble with their eggs, as Leslie is falling behind and turning out subpar eggs. Willie ends up “firing” him and putting Victoria on the egg station; Leslie just has to take care of the toast and even that he’s burning. They have one minute to get over easy eggs out or else two tables are walking out.

Customers on the Blue Team are walking out after not getting served in 45 minutes of waiting—those two tables left. The Blue Team forges ahead, however, and Elizabeth and Elise are working together on the club sandwiches. But there’s a problem with a Red team’s fried chicken…you guessed it, time for Gordon to yell at someone over raw chicken! Christian is on that station and needs to keep the standards up. Ten minutes until end of shift and it’s time to push it. The fried chicken is getting criticism from both team’s diners: bland and tasteless, cold green beans, not crispy enough skin.

The judges count up the tips after service and announce it was a very close decision: down to just a few dollars. The winning team ends up being the Red Team: they are safe. The Blue team will be needing black aprons once more for their pressure test in the MasterChef kitchen and at least one person is leaving. Big Willie gets the chance to either save three members of his team or save himself. But, if he saves himself everyone else has to cook.

Gordon says to be smart…it’s a very difficult pressure test coming up. Willie chooses to save three people from his team because he is a man of integrity. First he is saving Daniel. It’s not the first time Daniel’s been saved in a team competition and the judges want to know what’s up with that. Daniel says he keeps being saved because he has made no enemies…except Leslie. Francis shined in the kitchen so he is safe also, Willie chooses. His last choice will be Victoria because he was very happy with her performance. So Willie, Leslie, Dan and Cutter will be cooking in the pressure test. Who will be making their last dish in the MasterChef kitchen?

They will be cooking beautiful moist delicious red velvet cake…a Southern classic. The judges want at least three layers of cake. They have everything they need on their stations and 90 minutes to make their cakes.

Gordon says the secret is getting the density of the cake batter just right. The cream cheese icing needs some tanginess. Willie moves more slowly but does things more completely, the girls up in the balcony observe. He seems to be calm and in control of this elimination challenge, like it’s custom-made for him. He’s made red velvet cake several times and his only twist is going to be adding some roasted pecans. Leslie says he’s loving it, being in the pressure test. He’s maybe adding some pistachios to his cake.

Meanwhile, Cutter has never made a red velvet cake before and may be making errors. Dan Wu’s cake batter may be too thick, the other chefs in the balcony observe.  Jaimee is drooling over smelling all that cake baking! The judges talk more about important technique, like trimming the cakes so that the layers will stack up properly. Joe is worried about Dan and Cutter. Cutter is putting a lot into decorating his cake, but is it to make up for lack of taste?

Cakes down! Gordon calls. It’s time to taste their four attempts and find out who will be leaving? Willie is happy with his cake. His is a classic red velvet cake dusted with toasted pecans. Visually is slightly skewered, Gordon says. Nice firm texture on the sponge. But it’s all about the layers and his are gorgeous. The taste? The frosting is delicious and the batter is absolutely right. It’s a great job. Moist, and more than anything he put his heart and soul on the plate. Willie certainly seems to be safe.

Leslie is next he has pistachio on his cake to add some salt to the sweetness. Joe says it’s very good, moist, and he likes the pistachio even after thinking he wouldn’t. Leslie says he doesn’t know why there’s so much antagonism toward him and Cutter interjects that he’s a one trick pony. It is a good cake, Joe says, and he’s not there to moderate wars between competitors. Gordon says it looks nice and the frosting is delicious. There’s something intriguing about how Leslie gets better the more pressure he’s under. Leslie also seems assuredly safe.

Dan seemed to be struggling. He got off to a decent start but didn’t level off the cake. It’s tough to cut through it also because he overcooked it. It’s like a “boiled wool cake”, Gordon says, not velvety and soft. But if his looks homemade, Cutter’s looks like it’s childmade, and they have one more to taste.

Cutter’s looks terrible; he has put a childish looking American flag on the top of the cream cheese frosting and it looks like a “hairy bag” on the sides (what a lovely image when talking about food). The outside looks ridiculous. On the inside? There’s a generous portion of frosting. Gordon is all about taste and the cake is moist, delicious but so sweet. Too sweet, it’s sticking to the roof of his mouth and the balance of frosting to cake is way off. Cutter doesn’t seem to agree on the sweetness issue, even as Graham says the frosting looks way heavy. It starts to get ugly as Graham wants to know why Cutter is being so defensive instead of taking Gordon’s criticism for what it is.

It gets even worse when Joe gets into things. “Are you the kind of guy who lives in a delusion?” Joe wants to know.  “Baking sucks for me,” Cutter retorts, and he doesn’t want the judges putting words into his mouth about criticizing Gordon’s palate. But Joe just says Cutter sounds ignorant. It’s one of the most uncomfortable confrontations I’ve seen during a tasting on MasterChef, that’s for certain.

Finally it’s time for the judges to make their cut. Cutter thinks Leslie should go home. Leslie laughs. Willie is asked to come forward first. By staying down there to cook he proved his ability and integrity. He’s safe. His cake was well done. Leslie is next, and his red velvet cake tasted as good if not better than Willie’s. He’s safe as well.

So it’s down to Dan and Cutter. One has a humble approach and one is boisterous and somewhat disrespectful. But it comes down to what they put on a plate, not their attitude. Who will stay and who will go?

Both cakes had their ups and downs but one had the edge. The person who is safe? Is Cutter. Dan is going home. His cake was so dry the texture was that of a biscuit.

This was definitely an intense episode to watch, but I’m more and more confused this season by the dynamics between the cheftestants and how they are being portrayed in the edits. What is with all of the antagonism toward Leslie, anyway? Why is Daniel so liked when to me he is one of the ones that comes across as hugely (and undeservedly) arrogant, again this team challenge trying to take over the team from the appointed captain, being particularly nasty toward Leslie?

And then there is Elise who, even though I initially picked her as my bet for the season winner just seems to be absolutely clueless and out of her league in every challenge. She couldn’t even stack and cut a sandwich this episode!  I’m starting to think more that it’s going to come down to a Courtney versus Big Willie finale, as Willie is really the only chef I find truly likable at this point. He’s also starting to take a strong lead in my running poll to pick a favorite contestant this season. I guess we’ll find out as the competition continues…

For more on MasterChef Season 5….

Check out my Season 5 Fanpage on Squidoo!

MasterChef US 2014: Season 5
Welcome to my MasterChef US Season 5 fan page! Here, over the coming months, you will find my detailed episode recaps and reviews, where you’ll be able to share your own thoughts and opinions on the show and this year’s contestants. The fifth sea…

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.

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