July 24, 2012 | Posted in REALITY TV | By

Second Chances

MasterChef The Ultimate Cookbook.

The MasterChef Ultimate Cookbook, featuring recipes from the television series. Get it today at Amazon.

The competition to be the next MasterChef is down to the final six competitors – or is it? It seems that they are all in for a surprise when told to go up to the gallery as they won’t be cooking today. Some think they may have a special guest coming in to do a cooking demonstration, but nope: it’s the last 8 contestants who have been eliminated. Some are welcomed back fondly by those in the gallery, while others (namely Ryan and Tali) receive a rather icy return. But these 8 also appear surprised to be back and they don’t know why they are there, until the judges reveal that they will be fighting for a chance to win their MasterChef aprons back. One of the eight is going to get a second chance to stay in the kitchen!

The six in the gallery all seem surprised, and some quite annoyed by this. After all, they’ve fought hard to get this far and not be eliminated once. Then again, as Gordon says, everyone has a bad day. And this competition is here to give those who were eliminated a chance to prove that perhaps they weren’t “fairly” eliminated.

The first part of their test will be to build their own Mystery Box. Each of the 8 gets to go to the pantry and pick one ingredient. They will only have those ingredients, and basic kitchen staples, with which to create a dish in 60 minutes. The top two dishes will be chosen and then those two contestants will face off against each other for a spot back in the competition.

They get to pick in order of elimination, so Ryan goes first and gets portabella mushrooms. Scott then picks pork chops. Anna selects celery. Cowboy Mike goes for condensed milk. Tanya selects white wine vinegar. Tali chooses chocolate buttons and Josh a pomegranate. Stacey is the last, and despite the judges urging that she pick a starch, she chooses heavy cream. It seems like one camp is going for a savory dish, the other something sweet.

And so the cooking begins, and is interspersed with comments for the gallery about who they would be afraid to see come back (primarily Josh or Stacey). Ryan and Josh are both asked who they are surprised to still see in the competition and they say David, who gives a middle-finger salute in response. Becky is worried about Josh coming back because she sees him as potentially her strongest competitor. Nobody wants to see Ryan come back – except perhaps for a chance to kick his butt again.

At judging time, Josh is first and he has prepared a Chocolate Mousse with Pomegranate Sauce. Gordon points out that visually it’s not terrific but the taste sure is. All three judges seem impressed. Anna follows with a Pan-seared Pork Chop, Shaved Celery and Pomegranate Salad. Gordon thinks this one looks fabulous (I thought it looked busy) but unfortunately the pork chop isn’t perfect – sliced too soon, it has lost much of its juiciness and flavor.

Tali is third with Chocolate Pot de Creme, topped with Celery Foam. It’s extremely dense, however, and the judges are not impressed – particularly not in contrast to Josh’s chocolate mousse. Scott has made a Stuffed Pork Chop with Pickled Celery and Pomegranate Sauce, which just misses the mark because it’s another misfire on the cook of the chop (this time underdone). Tanya has also done a pork chop, with a Crispy Celery topping and mushroom ragu. Graham says the crispy celery just doesn’t make sense on the dish, even though the pork is cooked well.

Stacey follows and appears to have made an amazing dish of Mushroom Ravioli with Celery Cream and a Roasted Pork Chop. Gordon can’t believe how she completed so much in one hour’s time, that it’s delicious and she definitely stands a strong chance of coming back into the competition with this dish. Cowboy Mike has also made a stunning dish, a Chocolate Flan with Lemon Zest and Sugar Glass. The judges are impressed with how far he’s come in the competition from where he started and that it’s an excellent dessert, especially for someone who claims to have never made flan before.

Ryan is the last one with a dish for the judges. He has made a Pan-Seared Pork Chop with Mushroom Ragu and Pomegranate Gastrique. It impresses all of the judges as the pork is cooked excellently and it just might be the dish to get him back in the competition. The judges debate and have to decide which two competitors have the best dishes and will face off one-on-one next.

They call forward four of them first: Tanya, Tali, Anna and Scott. As you might expect having watched enough MasterChef by now, that means they are definitely out of the competition. The remaining four had the best dishes, but only two can remain. Cowboy Mike and Ryan are called forward next, and of the two Ryan is selected to compete again. That leaves Stacey and Josh, both of whom prepared amazing dishes – but only Josh will be given a chance to face off against Ryan.

The challenge dish is revealed and (no) surprise! It’s another dessert! This time the challenge is fruit tart. They have 90 minutes to create a delicious fruit tart, and they can be as creative as they want with a limited pantry and staple ingredients. From the start this challenge should give Josh an edge as Ryan went home the first time on a dessert, but Ryan is determined to prove himself as a worthy competitor once again. They start cooking and at first it seems like things are going great for Ryan: his crust looks good in the pastry plate and he gets it in the oven quickly. Meanwhile, Josh’s pastry dough is breaking apart as he’s putting it in the plate, and he might have taken too long before getting it in the oven. Ryan has selected classic berries for his tart while Josh is using tropical fruit, which Graham says could be a problem if not prepared properly.

Meanwhile, Becky, Christine, David, Felix, Frank, and Monti are seated and waiting in another room. They cannot observe this part of the competition as they will in fact be judging the two tarts – without knowing who prepared which. They are supposed to pick the better fruit tart of the two; I found myself wondering if, even if that was what they were supposed to do, they might actually vote for the lesser tart? If they were each so afraid of facing a strong competitor again?

In any event, Ryan and Josh work furiously to the end and both tarts come out looking good. But now they must both cut six individual slices carefully that will be brought to their judges. The first slices on both come out well. Now all they can do is sit and wait while their tarts are tasted and judged. It’s tough to tell who has a real edge, as some prefer the crust on one, the filling and fruit on another. Christine asks her aid to describe the visual appearance of the crust so she can make her decision not just on flavor but overall appeal. Yet as much as they try to make it appear to be a close call from the editing, it turns out the vote is 6 to 0: in Josh’s favor. So much for the return of the “Flavor Elevator”!

All told I thought this was an enjoyable episode, a nice change of pace and a chance to see which of the eliminated contestants really had either improved dramatically or had just had an off day earlier on. It’ll be interesting to see if they now set up a strong Becky vs. Josh rivalry as was being hinted at in the editing here – or, if Josh quickly falls again, suggesting that there really is no room for second chances on MasterChef.

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.

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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