June 27, 2013 | Posted in EPISODE RECAPS, REALITY TV | By

The Top 13 Compete

It’s time for another Mystery Box with 13 cheftestants still in the competition. But 13 is going to be an unlucky number for someone, and it may depend on what’s in that box. Bri is praying for vegetables but she’s in for a major surprise…and it’s not the shellfish Luca wanted either. It’s an entire pig head! Krissi is speechless and James thinks children at home won’t be sleeping tonight after seeing this.

Joe thinks it’s an ingredient that will separate the chefs from the mere home cooks. But the contestants have a minor reprieve: they already have select cuts of meat from the pig head carved for them so they don’t have to do the butchering themselves: cheeks, ears, tongue and snout are all ready to go. They have 90 minutes and a limited pantry to work with.

For most people it’s an odd ingredient to have to work with. Beth is doing something Southern-style: black-eyed peas, corn bread with pig’s ear. James is cool with the pig’s head and doesn’t seem to find it that weird of an ingredient. The judges discuss what they would do given this Mystery Box; Graham would blanch the tongue and braise it, and serve with a creamed mashed potato. He thinks Bri is going to have a hard time with this challenge as a vegetarian. Bri doesn’t want to look at the head so she’s put a drape over it. She’s making a farmer’s breakfast with crispy pig ear, cheek meat and poached egg.

Lynn is doing braised pork cheek that’s then deep fried with also a preparation of the tongue. Graham complements him that finally the seasoning is there in his pot! Jonny is doing cheek and tongue and Gordon is pleased with the flavors he’s coming up with. Jessie is doing the cheeks with a black bean/corn/jalapeno…something. It’s hard to figure out.

5 minutes are left and it’s time to plate. Jonny and Beth are impressing Gordon, Graham likes what Lynn is doing. Graham wants to see the “oink” on the plate!

The first dish they want to taste once time’s up is complex, they say, and it’s by Lynn. Bri thinks Lynn doesn’t have a “refined palette”. He’s made braised tongue & cheek with parsnip puree, and Gordon says the balance is right and it’s got class. Graham says it’s the first time Lynn’s been able to season with assertiveness. Joe says it’s an incredible example of fusion cooking and just wonders if it’s a “$24 appetizer or a $36 entree? And that means a lot.”

Next up? Someone who used cheek and ears…Jessie. She’s made braised pig cheek and ear with black eye peas and roasted corn. Graham tastes first and says it explodes with flavor. Joe thinks the seasoning throughout is right and it’s a good job. Gordon calls it “Georgia meets Mexico”. Last up for tasting? A homecook that surprised the judges, they say, as he so far has been in the middle of the pack…Jonny. Bri looks upset that she’s been overlooked. Jonny has made braised tongue and cheek tacos with tomato jam. Joe says it’s “just really good.” Graham says it’s awesome. Gordon says visually it may look simple but it delivers a punch and is delicious with restraint. It is his best dish so far.

Three very different dishes from high end to low end makes for a difficult decision for the judges. Who gets the advantage? It turns out to be Lynn so he’s off to the pantry to find out his advantage and the theme for elimination. They judges aren’t going to tell him, someone special is who has been where he stands now: last season’s winner, Christine Ha.

Cue a moment for product promotion as they show off Christine’s newly published cookbook. Christine is giving Lynn the choice of her three favorite ingredients, each of which is featured in some way in her cookbook (plug, plug). The first? Chicken. Second? Catfish. The last? Crab. Lynn is safe from elimination so he won’t be cooking. He has to choose one ingredient for one individual contestant to cook with, and another for everyone else to use. He picks Krissi to cook the catfish and everyone else gets crab.

As they come back from the pantry, the judges and Christine have another surprise for everyone. They are told to open their drawers and they find a blindfold they must put on to cook without sight, like Christine does. Cue the judges making fun of everyone (in a rather mean way, Graham flailing like a robot) for a few minutes until they then tell them to stop and take the blindfolds off again. Ha, ha. Now they get 60 minutes to cook for real.

Krissi thinks Lynn is a “dumbass” for thinking this will take her out. The judges talk about what they’d make; Gordon says he would do a crab bisque. Bri is making crab salad and she’s not happy about having killing an animal (the live crab) for her dish. Luca is making a risotto with a little fish sauce in his stock, supposedly to “honor” Christine. James is doing something with creole seasoning. Beth is making crab cake with peach salsa. Natasha is also doing crab cake with dark and light meat and a bok choy salad. Kirssi is doing mashed potatoes with a southern fried catfish and asparagus. Joe thinks she’s playing it safe. Beth and Krissi seems to be the ones the judges are the most worried about.

Krissi is up first with her fried catfish, bacon cheddar mashed potatoes and asparagus. It looks like a “tv dinner” to Gordon and he doesn’t like that she left the skin on as it’s inedible. Christine says it tastes too earthy and catfishy, not elevated enough. Graham says it looks like a “6.99 Blue Plate Special”. Joe spits it out while Krissi rolls her eyes. It tastes like mud, he says, and Joe doesn’t like her attitude. “For me you’re done” says.

Krissi goes back to her station and is muttering under her breath, still insisting there was nothing wrong with her dish. Joe calls her out again about her attitude. This is looking so obviously like Krissi’s time is up, I just know someone else is going to end up getting the ax (as much as I wish it was Krissi, personally.) Someone else has to have done “worse” in the judges eyes (or there’s someone else production wants to send home first…)

Natasha is next with her ginger crab cakes and beet salad. Christine thinks it’s brave to go with an Asian theme and Joe likes the ginger…he says it’s really, really good. Bri is next with her Summer crab stack with pea and avocado mash. Peas and crab? It’s a classic combo, and the corn she’s used, too. Graham says it should be hard to mess up and she hasn’t; it’s almost “spring moving into summer” and he likes it a lot.

James has spicy crab creole with rice and seafood broth. Christine likes the heat at the end. Gordon says it’s phenomenal with the seasoning. Next? Beth. She has her crab cakes with mascarpone with grilled peach and avocado salsa. Joe tastes and spits it out; it’s raw. It’s more crab pancake than crab cake…pasty and nasty. Beth apologizes that she doesn’t cook much with seafood because it’s not local where she lives. She might really be in trouble, but then there’s Luca. He’s made crab risotto with asparagus and lemon that looks like a bowl of soup! There’s too much liquid, and the initial taste is too salty. Gordon says it’s just not risotto. Joe pulls him aside and says it’s a disaster…especially for using that fish sauce.

The judges debate with Christine and have a top two dishes to call out. First? Natasha. Second? Best dish of the evening goes to…James. They’ll be team captains for the next challenge, but the three worst dishes? Came from Beth, Luca and Krissi. Luca they call out first, but, there were two worse dishes than his so he’s safe. Beth “produced a plate of blandness” and the judges think Krissi is taking the competition for granted. They end up telling Beth she’s done, and Krissi is safe for one more round of competition.

While I enjoyed the ingredients and challenges the contestants faced in this episode, I thought the editing was way too heavy handed and the judging seemed far too set up to feel really based on the food produced – especially in the elimination round. Last episode Krissi was clearly being set up for a “downfall” this episode, after the way she got people so angry with her targeting of Bime. Lynn clearly was due to be shown doing something right for a change. Beth has…honestly just been a bit of a nobody in the competition and not a strong enough “character” that she was going to last that long. I really don’t see how her poor crab cakes were worse than Krissi’s sloppy, nasty-looking catfish plate, but it’s clear she’s one of the biggest “characters” this season so they’re going to keep her around as long as possible…joy.

Looking for more on MasterChef Season 4? Then check out my season Hub Page:

MasterChef US 2013: Season 4
Who will be the next MasterChef? Find out in Season 4 of the intense cooking competition where talented “home cooks” compete for the ultimate title – and prize! Learn more about the contestants in my hub for the season, share your opinions in weekly polls, and check out video highlights as well.

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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