July 23, 2015 | Posted in EPISODE RECAPS, REALITY TV | By

“Moo-vers and Bakers”

Screencapture from the Jul 22, 2015 episode of MasterChef.

Screencapture from the Jul 22, 2015 episode of MasterChef. Episode available via Amazon Instant Video.

This week’s episode begins with soaring scenes of fields and open landscape…and mooing cattle. We are “70 miles north of the MasterChef kitchen” and the remaining 10 home cooks are here for their next team challenge. Shelly says it’s beautiful, nothing she’s ever seen in Brooklyn. Claudia is all excited when she sees a large truck arriving with Christina at the wheel and Gordon and Graham in the back. “Girl power…drive that truck!” (Yes, believe it or not, Claudia, women do quite regularly drive vehicles…)

Tommy is mostly impressed with how good Gordon looks in a pair of blue jeans.

Gordon explains that today they will be split into two team of five and then have to feed 101 very hungry cowboys (some of whom will look like they came straight out of Hollywood casting, not off the ranch.) Claudia is the only person left who has never been on a winning team in a team competition so she is determined that won’t happen this time. “The Claudia curse is over!”

Each team will have to make a dish featuring steak along with two sides and a sauce. Hetal and Katrina are team captains, and Hetal is clearly nervous from the start. She’s pretty sure none of the cowboys want steak from a vegetarian. I’m thinking that now the only reason she was chosen as having a top dish last episode – with those rather boring peanut butter & jelly cookies – was so the producers could film the drama of a vegetarian having to be team captain in a beef challenge.

Hetal, as the top dish winner last episode, she gets first pick. But the twist this time is that she isn’t picking for her own team; she’s picking for Katrina’s team. Then Katrina will pick for Hetal’s team. Therefore it would seem she would be beginning with the people she least wants on her team and working to the ones that are the most wanted.

The first person Hetal is picking for Katrina is someone who is good but sometimes has issues with consistency: Claudia. Katrina thinks she could work with anyone remaining but she could work better with everyone over Shelly, who she sends to Hetal. The next person Hetal picks for Katrina is someone who has been “negative” recently and she only wants positive, happy thoughts for her own team: Tommy. Katrina then picks Olivia for Hetal, and Hetal picks Nick for Katrina. Shelly thinks that’s a mistake, that they could have used a “man’s man” like Nick on their team. (We also hear for the first time that Shelly is a pescatarian.)

Katrina then picks Christopher for Hetal, and that leaves Derrick and Stephen as the last to be picked – meaning they are the most desired. Gordon asks Derrick whose team he’d like to be on and he says Katrina’s. Hetal gets to make that pick, and she gives Derrick his wish and sends him to Katrina because she wants Stephen.

That means Hetal’s Red Team consists of Shelly, Olivia, Christopher and Stephen, and Katrina’s Blue Team consists of Claudia, Tommy, Nick and Derrick. Katrina is feeling 100% confident with her team.

There’s a last decision to make: one team will get New York Strip steaks, the other team gets Hanger steak. Hetal gets to make that choice but it’s tough one for her because she doesn’t even know the difference between the two. Stephen steps up to say that while everyone knows the NY Strip cut, the Hanger has a better flavor. Katrina is hoping for the NY Strip but doesn’t think she has a chance of getting it, so she’s shocked when Hetal chooses the Hanger steak.

They have 60 minutes to make their steak entree, sides and sauce for the cowboys once they arrive in the kitchen. But first, everyone jumps in the back of the truck so we can have a talking head moment of Claudia talking all about visiting a family ranch regularly.

Time starts and the teams begin devising their menus. Hetal puts Stephen on meat right away and wants to do a chimichurri sauce. Shelly is arguing that a barbecue sauce would be a better choice for ranchers. (Does she not understand anything about chimichurri sauce and its connections to meat in Argentina?) She thinks their menu with grilled zucchini and potato salad makes no sense. OK, Shelly.

Katrina, in contrast, is “thinking outside the box”. She wants to do a beef demi-glace sauce for the NY Strip steak with whisky and onions, sweet potato mash and green beans. Tommy jumps on the green beans, saying he can do them with mushrooms and bacon.  She wants to go fancy but rustic, and her team seems to have a strong plan.

The judges debate who seems to be the stronger team. Hetal may be at a disadvantage being a vegetarian, Graham says, but Christina brings up how she ruled the Beef Wellington challenge and that she’s got a strong second-in-command in Stephen.

Gordon goes over to check on Hetal’s team and it’s clear he’s not convinced about their grilled veggie side dish. He thinks it sounds like “Ladies who lunch”, not a good choice for cowboys and too time consuming. “They’re feeding the cowboys, not the cows.” They have to rethink their side dish, but her brain is going blank.

Olivia steps in to say she’s just going to sautee up all the zucchini they have prepped, even though they are all different shapes and sizes, because they don’t have time to prep another vegetable from scratch.

Gordon asks for Katrina’s menu. He thinks the demi-glace is the wrong sauce for the cowboys; this isn’t a wedding reception. He also thinks they need to spice up the sweet potatoes since sweet potato mash isn’t everyone’ favorite. Claudia steps in to make a fire-roasted red pepper sauce to replace the demi-glace.

Hetal is struggling to manage her team. She sends Christopher to help on the grill but Shelly think he’s needed more on the vegetables. Stephen doesn’t want Christopher’s help on the steaks, because he’s always talking and interfering with Stephen cooking the meat.

On the Blue Team, the heat of the charcoal grill is getting the better of Nick and Derrick. But they have to make sure every steak is cooked perfectly no matter what.

The cowboys (or actors playing cowboys?) start arriving. Tommy is totally into their outfits. Five minutes to go until service but Hetal’s team waited too long to start cooking their zucchini. Their pans aren’t even hot.

The chowbell is rung; time to start serving. Blue Team has a good line going to get plates ready. Each guest must receive a completed plate or else they have to move on. The Red Team has a hanger steak with sauteed zucchini, warm potato salad and chimichurri sauce. Blue Team has the New York strip steak with white sweet potato mash, green beans and a fire-roasted red pepper sauce.

Hetal doesn’t have zucchini ready so “cowboys” are walking away from her service station with empty plates. “How many vegetarians does it take to put out some vegetables?” Stephen wants to know. Olivia is working hard on trying to cook up the “watery” zucchini the best she can. Meanwhile, Katrina’s team has good momentum and she hopes they can just keep it going.

Whose team is scoring better, Graham wants to know. They are voting by casting either a red or blue brand on a big cow display. Stress starts getting to Derrick as he jumps up onto the line but Katrina firmly puts him in his place, back at the grill. Good job, Katrina! No whining and crying to Gordon about Derrick like Olivia did in a previous team challenge.

The Red Team is finally getting their act together and seems to be getting good feedback on their plate. But will it be enough to win them some needed votes?

The last plates finally go out and Shelly tries to encourage the Red Team that the protein is what really matters, not the vegetables. Katrina, meanwhile, is confident her team is going to win. Everyone on her side seems happy and even embracing for a big group hug.

Time for the judges to make the announcement. The top team actually won by a landslide – 50 votes! And that win goes to Katrina and her Blue Team.

While the Blue Team goes out into the crowd for congratulations, the  Red Team now has to clean both kitchens and will face the “dreaded” pressure test. Hetal thinks God is punishing her for cooking all of that meat!

Back now in the MasterChef kitchen, the Red Team members learn that one person will be safe from elimination…and the decision will be made by the Blue Team members. They have 2 minutes to come to make their choice. Should they pick someone weak that will then be easy to eliminate later on? Or should they pick someone who is generally a good team player for future team challenges.

They eventually reach a decision and Katrina steps down from the balcony to give one white apron to…Olivia. Shelly shakes her head and looks annoyed (as usual). They went for the good team player.

That means Stephen, Shelly, Hetal and Christopher will face the pressure test. Their challenge, this time around? They must make a “beautiful, magnificent” fruit tart. It’s something they would see served on a cattle ranch, Christina tells them! It must have the right pastry, custard, and glazed fruit. Hetal is excited it’s a dessert challenge because baking is what she loves. They have access to a limited pantry every fruit imaginable, along with the basic necessary ingredients at their stations.

They have only 90 minutes to make their perfect fruit tarts. They need to start with the pastry shell, and the cream has to hold its shape when the tart is cut. The fruit must look like “little gems” on top and be nicely glazed. Christopher is doing a lemon pastry cream with strawberries, blueberries and mint glaze. Shelly says she wanted to go mango and coconut but she was nervous about that, so instead she is doing berries with a chocolate cream. Christina says that’s a good flavor combination showing some reach. Hetal is doing cardamon custard with berries and a raspberry glaze with rosewater.

Stephen has not had to be in an pressure test before. Is he mad he’s down here in the pressure test, Gordon wants to know? No. Cue Gordon swearing and egging him on while Stephen swears back and goes a little nuts on everyone.

The judges think Stephen is cracking under the pressure. Hetal is also having a bit of a meltdown and panicking. Nine minutes to go. The tarts should be out of the oven and they should be layering in the cream and decorating with the fruit. Christopher’s filling is very watery. Meanwhile Stephen’s pastry cracks as he takes it out of the mold. He is so upset he in the pantry having a breakdown, crying.

The four tarts are brought up to the judges for tasting. Stephen is first. He has a blueberry tart with apricot glaze, lemon zest and kumquat juice. Face value, Christina wishes there was more fruit than just blueberries on top. His cream is runny but the flavor is there…”it’s bright, it’s shiny”. But it’s delicious.

Shelly is next with her fruit tart: berries with a classic vanilla pastry cream (I guess the chocolate was a fail) but she didn’t get the glaze on more than a few berries. The cream is a little loose, the tart shell is a little under but overall it’s a good job

Christopher is next with his strawberry, blueberry, mint and lemon tart. The pastry has an “amazing crunch” according to Gordon, but cream didn’t set well…it’s runny, tastes good but it looks mess. The pastry shell is incredible, but he didn’t nail it.

Hetal is last up for tasting. She has a cardamon vanilla pastry cream, raspberry jam for glaze and a little bit of chocolate on bottom. Visually it’s stunning, Christina says, but the pastry is a little blond and it shrunk down. She loves the flavor but she wishes there was more pastry cream. But it is definitely “you”, Christina tells Hetal, unlike the cattle ranch.
The judges call all four of them forward before the judges go back to debate. They say it’s super-tough to make a decision.  None of them got all of the components completely right to make a perfect fruit tart.

Shelly and Hetal are called forward first. Both of them will live to see another day…they are safe. That leaves Stephen and Christopher at the bottom. Stephen has a sinking feeling that he’s not going to make it through. It’s a difficult decision, the judges say. The judges debate once more while Christopher is having one of his meltdowns and seems sure he doesn’t belong in the bottom (despite having what looked like the worst tart with his fruit all sinking into the cream.)

Gordon wants them both…to take their aprons off. Everyone gasps. But…it’s because it’s too close to call so they are both safe. No one is going home this week, basically making the entire episode meaningless and a waste of time!

It’s always a letdown when there’s a non-elimination episode like this, but perhaps we had to expect one after Dan left unexpectedly earlier this season (and of course they still had an expected number of episodes to fill…but then they could have had one less double-elimination, couldn’t they?) I’m glad Stephen is still in it because he’s at least entertaining when he and Gordon go at it – and at each other. Could we perhaps finally see Christopher go home next week? His overconfidence and under-performance is really starting to make him look like the weakest remaining in the top 10, along with Shelly, but I’m afraid we’re going to be stuck with Shelly quite a bit longer, still.

Want to share your thoughts on this season of MasterChef and learn more about the competitors? Then check out my MasterChef Season 6 fan page on Wizzley!

MasterChef is back for its sixth season in 2015. Are you ready for another round in this competition of talented home chefs?

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.


  1. Marie
    July 25, 2015

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    Great re-cap again. Wasn’t Katrina incredible? She was decisive, calm, able, taking Gordon’s criticism on the chin, willing to be flexible when needed and very much a true leader. It makes me wonder if they have deliberately edited the series to make her look a bit teary, flustered and lacking in self-confidence up to now, when in fact she is very able and competent. I loved her handling of Derrick when he started his usual “alpha male” routine – she nipped it in the bud directly without being whiny or nasty about it. Well deserved win, Katrina and her team!

    I also felt that the whole “vegetarian captaining a team in the meat challenge” was a total set-up as well. After six seasons, everyone knows what Masterchef is all about and when you sign up you know you’ll be cooking all kinds of things, so Hetal being a vegetarian ought not be an issue – it irks me that they mention it all of the time. That must be softening us up for the inevitable meat episode.

    In the “DREADED pressure test” (I laugh every time they call it that) I think that Stephen, Christopher and Shelley had the worst tarts. Of course Shelly gets saved again for some obscure reason and I was hoping that Stephen would go because of the broken shell and poor garnishing and presentation. But I guess they need him and his over-the-top scripted antics to add to the manufactured drama so he’ll stay a while. His constant “I’m the competition hot shot” attitude grates on me, as does Tommy’s ramped up camp routine. You’re gay, Tommy – we get it, no need to go all Liberace on us in case we missed the fact. I guess at least we are spared the nastiness factor that has haunted previous seasons (thinking here of Krissy in 2013 and Cutter last season).

    I’m also pleased that apart from Tommy there is less of the costume wearing than in previous seasons. I don’t really get that – in the Australian series, they tend to wear ordinary, nondescript, sensible clothing and footwear in the kitchen. But in the US version, you get people leaving their hair long to drape in the food, or greasy hair or extreme hairstyles, flouncy cocktail dresses, stilettoes, clownish make-up, sleeveless tops, silly hats etc which puzzles me. Surely some of that is a health and safety issue.

    My guess is that Christopher will go next, given that he’s never really shone. And I think Olivia might also go soon, because she hasn’t had much positive air-time lately. I kind of like Nick and Katrina from those that are left, so we’ll see how that goes. Like you, I think Shelley ought to have been eliminated before now, but she seems to be leading a charmed life, so I guess we are stuck with her for the foreseeable future.

    • sockii
      July 25, 2015

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      I definitely think Katrina is more capable than they’ve been giving us a chance to see so far. I wonder if perhaps we actually could see her making it all the way to the finale at this point? I really didn’t think so early on but they could be giving her a winner edit now (Claudia as well, although I still fear for the way they are playing up and keeping Shelly safe).

      Someone in another forum brought up the possibility that the judges were thrown by Olivia getting the save; that she was the one they wanted to eliminate this episode, before the other four, so they made it a non-elimination round.

      The make-up, hair and dress really annoys me as well. It makes everything so much more cartoonish. And yet, I keep watching and just can’t turn away! LOL. I think at this point it’s mostly because I like to see if my early guesses are right about who goes far and who goes home.

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