Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Masterchef: Final Four Go Global
Last time on Masterchef: My heart broke into a million pieces as we said goodbye to Ben Starr
The remaining four enter the Masterchef Kitchen, which looks massive and deserted with so few chefs left. They are all so close they can taste victory and they're dreaming of what they'll do with the grand prize.
In unrelated news, Adrian has been shorn! He's rocking a much shorter hair style. Maybe that embarrassing 'hair in the food' incident at Patina a few weeks ago made him rethink his locks.
This is normally the point in the competition where the chefs get to break free of the Masterchef kitchen and go on location for a new adventure. But not this lucky group of cooks! They will be stuck toiling away behind the same counter tops, working with the same Masterchef non-stick cookware (product plug!) they've been using all season. The location will be coming to them...in the form of three international judges who have presided over Masterchef TV shows in their home countries.
Cooking in teams of two the chefs will have access to the best home-grown ingredients America has to offer. They'll have 90 minutes to create one impressive dish and plate it into 6 portions.
As the venison champ from the last elimination challenge, Suzy gets the red apron and her choice of teammate. For some bizarre reason, she settles on Christian. So...you have two easy-going, low maintenance options staring you in the face and you pick the one guy who doesn't play well with others? Jennifer and Adrian can't believe their good fortune and are thrilled to pair up for a drama-free blue team.
Suzy and Christian bicker back and forth for a few minutes over whether Suzy's concept of an upscale thanksgiving will work. The point of contention seems to be what is and isn't 'fancy' enough. Christian decides to let Suzy sink her own ship and they agree on :
Pan seared duck breast with a sweet potato mash, caramelized fennel, raspberry gastrique, mushrooms and an apple chutney
Jennifer and Adrian fall into an instant rhythm and easily settle on an east coast/west coast seafood theme:
Avocado roasted corn and Maine lobster, with spot prawns on top and a red pepper and blood orange coulis
Smack Talk Time!
-Jennifer would be way too embarrassed to serve up a tired thanksgiving theme for a panel of worldly international judges!
-Suzy feels sorry for the blue team. They must have a serious lack of faith in their own skills to basically regurgitate their own dishes.
As the red team rushes around the kitchen, botching sauces and sniping at each-other, the blue team calmly share their responsibilities, working together like a dream. A chopper is touching down on the roof, which means time is running out! On their way to meet the American Masterchefs are a legendary French food critic, a food writer from Israel, and India's Chef of the Year.
The red team is up first and they're met with blank stares as they present their thanksgiving concept. Dammit, I hate when Christian is right about things. His head can't afford to get any bigger! The Indian judge wants to know why they chose that direction. Suzy says it's American culture. Maybe in a cheesy TV commercial or an old-timey painting...but it's not an actual representation of the country. Nobody hates the dish, and there are some nice elements - the duck is well-cooked, the mash has a nice sweet flavour - but it's all underwhelming. Joe calls out the team, "for you to bring this to this people we brought from all over the world is disrespectful". Really? Just because it's a lame dish, or because thanksgiving is offensive to foreigners? Christian is so desperate to have his say that he's practically holding his breath and turning blue. The Israeli judge finally asks him to comment and he blurts out that the whole idea was dumb and they should have just used lobster. Joe calls him a tattle-tale and Gordon just hangs his head in shame. The children are making him look bad in front of company! They leave the dining room and Christian is pissed at Suzy, pissed at himself, pissed at Thanksgiving, ducks, potatoes...he's just pissed!
The Blue team enter next and they're all smiles and sunshine. They wanted to showcase the fact that American cooking actually incorporates great international flavours. Suck-ups. Again the judges are not enthralled - there are some texture issues and they tried to do too much. They also commit a major faux pas by serving dirty prawns! But after the childish antics of the red team, Gordon makes a point of praising their team spirit.
The Blue Team takes the win, which means Jennifer and Adrian are automatically through to the final 3, while Suzy and Christian take their hostility out on a pressure test.
Tonight's theme is lemon meringue pie, which widens Suzy's smile and furrows Christian's already strained brow even further. He's never even made a pie before and he's tired of all this dessert nonsense. 'Cause anything he isn't an expert at is obviously a useless pursuit. To excel in this challenge, the chefs will have to perfect three different elements: crust, lemon curd, and meringue.
-Gordon to Christian: Why will your pie be different? Christian: it will taste better.
-The deathly silence as they both stare into the oven and wait for their pies to cook through
-Christian takes his pie out of the oven and whistles at it like it's a hot date. I can just him sitting alone at the dinner table, whispering sweet nothings to his dinner. No wonder he's so grumpy.
Suzy - Gordon holds up her pie plate and is disturbed that the crust is almost translucent. The lemon curd is clearly visible through the bottom. He cuts a piece from the pan and luckily it "looks better out than in". Flavour may just be her saving grace as all the judges agree the pie is delicious. But why was she skimping on the meringue?
Christian - wins points for a prettier pie, but things unravel a little when they judges cut in. The meringue has the texture of scrambled eggs and the crust is very uneven.
I found it amusing how all the judges chose different methods of pie evaluation
- Gordon treated them like paintings, praising vibrant colours and style
- Joe tested their structural integrity, checking for breakage and ensuring they held up to stress
- Graham just dove right in with a fork. I'm with you dude!
As the judges deliberate, Jennifer is up on the balcony praying that Suzy wins. She really wants someone to give Christian the pastry funeral he so richly deserves.
So who goes home?
Proving that Christian has been practicing his taunting since his days in the school-yard, he calls out "Suzy you're going to lose-y" in an obnoxious sing-song voice. And she does losey...er lose. Gordon regretfully sends her home and encourages her not to give up on her dream. So Christian scrapes by yet again. Guess the show still needs their villain. After all, they've already lost their hero - RIP Ben Starr!