The top 11 walk into the competition area to see the three judges standing in front of the biggest mystery box ever. Of course, we already know Eva Longoria is standing inside it because we’ve all seen the previews. Natasha is ecstatic. Turns out Eva’s hand-picked the ingredients for the cheftestant’s to use. Savannah’s also happy, because Eva’s given them a lot of Mexican ingredients, which she rattles off. Gordon calls Luca out because he looks confused. He says he’s never even eaten Mexican. Gordon gives them their 60 minutes and everyone runs madly into the pantry. The judges and Eva discuss what problems the chefs might run into and what they’d do.

Bri is the first one called. Natasha snarks that she doesn’t see a vegetarian in the top 10. Shut up, Nasty Natasha. Bri made butter and cilantro poached shrimp with grilled corn salad. Gordon’s impressed, and so is Eva. Joe tells her she nailed the cookery on the shrimp. Eddie’s called up next. He used the pork tenderloin to create chili pork loin with cream of corn and mango relish. I want to note that both of them were mentioned as having good dishes by the judges before they started calling names. Graham tells him the pork is cooked perfectly. Eva is also very complimentary. Jordan looks pissed.

I can tell Savannah is going to be called next, although the camera crew would like me to think James, with his Texas background, has a chance. Except Savannah grew up immersed in the culture, so when Joe says they know Mexican cooking, I know it’s her. She also used the pork, and presents a spice crusted pork loin with creamed corn and guacamole. I wouldn’t be surprised if she wins. Joe likes the textures as well as the tastes. Eva also likes it. Amazingly enough (and to Natasha’s eye roll), Bri wins.

Once more, the winner will not have to cook. Again, she’ll be able to single someone out to get a basket for a challenge based on time, ingredients, and money, according to the judges. The first basket has strawberries, three eggs, a lemon, strawberry gelatin, milk, a banana, butter, sugar, flour, and baking powder. It cost just under $5 and whoever gets it has one hour to create a dessert.

The second basket costs just under $25. It has sweet potato, cauliflower, tomatoes, steak, mini bell peppers, collard greens, a lime, and other ingredients not listed. Graham does the product placement, then tells Bri whoever gets the basket only has 30 minutes to use the ingredients. They all return and make note that Bri’s now in the top ten. They call Natasha out for her ‘tude. I think even Krissi clapped for Bri. I hope she managed to screw over Natasha, Krissi, or Jordan. I’m not surprised when she picks Natasha. She says that most of the contestants are poor bakers, but Natasha is a good one, so everyone else gets the dessert basket. Natasha says she’s going to win anyway. The judges note that instead of trying to figure out her ingredients and making plans, she’s spending her 30 minutes glaring at Bri.

When we come back from break, Gordon counts Natasha down. She does a plug for Wal-Mart and then we go to Krissi, so I fast-forward. Joe thinks Natasha’s doing well. Gordon likes Jessie’s dish, but thinks Lynn and Savannah are in trouble.

Luca made a banana cake with pastry cream and strawberry compote. Luca’s not confident, and he and Joe share a moment of concern over the doneness of the cake. It turns out not only to be done, but taste good. Gordon agrees. He’s also happy with the level of ambition. Graham tells him he doesn’t think he’ll be in the bottom three this week.

Lynn’s next. They call him the king of plating, but what he presents makes Gordon call Graham and Joe up. Graham takes his glasses off and says, “That’s incredible” before we cut to commercial. We come back to an immediate repeat, and after Joe asks if he drove over it, we get to see two sorry looking dollops of something on the plate. For a second they look like raw pork chops. In fact, they’re two extremely flattened globs of baked meringue with banana puree (which looks the disgusting grey brown they can turn if you don’t put lemon juice or something on them to keep them from oxidizing). I can also see some type of strawberry something on top. I know his gelatin was broken, but it looks like he used it anyway. Oh, dear. He’ll be in the bottom for sure.

Natasha smirks as the judges voice their disapproval. Gordon calls it rancid. He also says it’s the worst dish he’s seen in four years of MasterChef, and I have to agree. Joe doesn’t even bother to try it, just scrapes the plate off and hands it back as a memento. James sums it up when he says “Anyone can fail at any time.”  Savannah presents her banana cream pie with banana meringue. She tells Graham the meringue broke. He tells her the pastry also could’ve gone a little longer. Jessie brings up a shortbread tart with caramelized banana. Gordon tells her it’s delicious.

James has crispy deep fried bananas with strawberry puree and custard. He says it’s a thin custard, and Joe says that’s a very, very generous description. He doesn’t like it. Krissi brings up strawberry muffins with caramelized bananas. The muffins look fallen, because she added some of the gelatin to the recipe to add flavor but didn’t compensate for whatever that did to the mix (I think it’d be a binding agent, so perhaps she should’ve shorted an egg?), and screwed up the chemistry. For me, baking is the only time I follow a recipe exactly, and every time I bake something I follow the recipe. I suspect she’ll be in the bottom three, but unless she did something stupid like threw in too much salt, I don’t think she’ll be going home over Lynn.  I’m happy to see Joe take a bite and spit it out. Gordon does, too.

Natasha’s last. She made grilled rib eye steak, sweet potato fries, and roasted cauliflower. She also put three steak sauces on it. Gordon asks about the rub she used and commends her steak cooking skill. Natasha correctly states that Bri thought she’d panic with only 30 minutes, but it’s obvious she’s not going anywhere.

I’m not really sure who the third person in the bottom will be. Jessie is the winner, and is told she’ll be the only team captain. James is the first person in the bottom three, and I’m a bit worried that it might be he who’s leaving. Lynn and Krissi join him. Gordon says he’s shocked by the three of them being there. He calls Lynn forward, and tells him he’s been really amazing until now. He says, “Lynn” and we cut to commercial before we find out whether he steps back or is just cut without anyone else getting lectured. Which I find hard to believe.  But Gordon cuts him straight off and sends James and Krissi back to their stations. I’m not surprised, although everyone else is. Lynn was a very strong contender.

Part Two. We open in Huntington Beach. The narrator says it’s 40 miles south of the MC kitchen. Hmm. I can narrow that down on MapQuest. The judges come out of the water, and for once I agree with Krissi when she says “Oh my god, no. Is that Graham in a Speedo?” Surfers start running toward the chefs and the waves. Krissi calls them all unemployed weirdoes. Shut up, you ignorant bitch.

They’ll be making fish tacos. Natasha’s ready. They will be serving two tacos with one sauce to 101 surfers. Jessie gets to pick four people to work with her, and then she gets to pick who the captain will be for the other team. She picks James for his knowledge of peppers and heat. Eddie’s her second pick, no surprise. Then Bethy, and surprisingly, Natasha, who she pegs as someone with flair who also understands heat and flavors. Jesse reasons her choice for the Red team captain for us in a talking head. She picks Savannah. Miss San Diego is confident.

They have an hour of prep, and Gordon sends them off to pick their fish and how to prepare it. Savannah’s trying to be diplomatic and play to people’s strengths, but everyone appears to be happy. The blue team picks mahi-mahi and puts James on sauce duty. He plans a roasted pineapple habanero salsa. The red team is doing cod, and already Savannah’s team is finding fault with her.

James tells Jessie his sauce is mild, but Graham and Joe are grabbing for water and tell her his first attempt is a miss. He knows the sauce is the key part, so he tries to bring down the heat of the habaneros. How about using a milder pepper, James? Habaneros are one of the hottest peppers out there. On the red team, Jordan’s confident his cilantro and lime sauce will complement their cod nicely.  He also knows it’s the key ingredient.

Krissi was tasked with frying cod in a beer batter, but she made a batter too thick and with way too much hot sauce, so they decide to grill it instead. As uzh, Krissi thinks she’s the queen of fish and tries to find something else to do, but Savannah actually has everything assigned already. Then she realizes she needs the tortillas grilled. Krissi thinks she’s been assigned the dum-dum task, and since Savannah wants them “almost burned”, I’m sure she’ll manage to screw it up. Red team starts assembling with ten minutes left, but Gordon has to tell Blue team to get it together, and they’re rather disorganized.

The narrator tells us the first team to 51 wins. The blue team is serving mahi-mahi tacos with chipotle ranch slaw and roasted pineapple habanero sauce. The red team is serving spicy blackened cod tacos with pickled onions and cabbage with cilantro lime sauce. The blue team is running out of dishes, sauce, and tortillas. Then they start running out of fish, so it’s time for a commercial break. And time for me to take a typing break and see how it all plays out.

When we come back, blue has gotten it together and red has a minor stumble. The judges wander around and lead us to believe, from the commentary, that red is going to win. When the voting starts, the red votes start stacking up. In fact, they’re up by 22 votes before blue starts getting them. Very quickly, the vote reaches 40 to 25, blue.  The red vote remains at 25 as blue’s climbs. They only need two votes to win. The last guy gives it to them with a full-body flop onto their surfboard. So much for Krissi finally being on a winning team.

Krissi is talking her team up, so I get to be curious about what causes her to scream that she’s done, as we saw in the previews. But when we get back from commercials, they’re walking into the MC kitchen for the pressure test. The winning team gets baseball jerseys from their hometown baseball teams. Turns out next Tuesday is an all-star game, so they’ll be watching it with Graham in NYC. Gordon asks Savannah to name the weakest player. She tries to dodge it, but quickly says Krissi. So does Bri. Bri says all she was doing was heating tortillas. Krissi reminds us that’s the only job she was given. Well, technically, she was given the opportunity to prepare the fish, but she f***ed it up, so that alone should put her in the weakest link position. Once more, Gordon tells them they won’t all be participating. He adds that they lost as a team, so they decide as a team who stays safe. They go into the wine pantry. Krissi claims Savannah didn’t tell her how to cook the tortillas, then when Savannah says she did, Krissi says, “F*** you.” Bri goes off on her, and their voices start getting louder. We flash to the judges looking horrified and the other contestants turning around in surprise. Graham yells that they have one minute. They tell Jordan he’s safe. Bri says Krissi’s an insecure bully. She’s right. She and I both hope Krissi goes home.

Gordon claims they’ll be making a perfectly succulent sautéed chicken breast. Luca’s confident. Then Graham says he wants his Southern fried. I suspect they’ll be making three breasts to three different recipes. I’m right, because Joe steps forward and reveals he wants a chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto di Parma. And they only have 40 minutes. Luca agrees that now it’s a pressure test. Bri’s nervous, as a vegetarian she’s never cooked chicken at all. Neither Savannah nor Luca have made fried chicken. Krissi’s boastful, per uzh, as Gordon, Graham, and Joe discuss the secrets of making their dish exactly right.

Graham asks Krissi what happened in the wine room, and she gives her version. Bri tells Gordon she’s completely relying on instincts. Well, that worked for Christine last year. Savannah’s worried because her fried chicken batter or something is off, and she hasn’t started it yet. Bri’s oil hasn’t heated up, and time is running out. The peanut gallery thinks they might be losing her. I hope not. I, like the other nine, am sick and tired of Krissi and just want her to go home. After the break, Gordon starts counting down. It looks like Bri got her chicken fried. Turns out her assessment of Krissi as a bully is correct, as Krissi says Bri reminds her of the girls she used to beat up in high school.

Savannah’s up first. Gordon’s not happy with his chicken. It’s more poached than sautéed. Graham asks where his crunchy batter is. Unfortunately, it’s also undercooked. Joe’s looks properly cooked, and he likes the stuffing, but the sauce is goopy.

Krissi is next. Her sautéed breast looks good. Gordon’s happy with it. The fried one looks good but a little dark. She tells Graham she makes it a lot, and when he cuts into it I can see it’s cooked properly. He’s very happy. Joe tells her he expects it to be done perfectly. He’s not happy with the amount of stuffing or sauce, but says it’s passable.

Luca’s sautéed breast is overcooked, although Gordon says it’s seasoned properly. His fried chicken has the proper exterior, but is only about 90% done. Graham tells him it’s a valiant effort. Joe cuts into his stuffed breast, and it’s practically completely raw. Oh, dear. Every time Luca cooks in his style, it bites him in the ass.  Joe’s probably going to push for him to go home over this. Joe manages to find a cooked part, but it’s not seasoned well, either.

Gordon tells Bri her method of relying on a thermometer to give her the proper doneness didn’t work. It’s seasoned well but slightly undercooked. Graham likes her batter, but it’s completely raw in the middle, so he can’t eat any of the chicken. Joe asks her if she thinks it’s raw. She says she hopes it’s not, and it isn’t. Joe likes it.

Well, I’m sure Krissi is safe. Luca, Savannah, and Bri are the bottom three due to their raw chicken. Bri asks the other two if there are degrees of rawness. Well, there are degrees of doneness, and while Savannah did have an undercooked breast, it wasn’t raw like Luca’s stuffed one and two of Bri’s. I’ll be shocked if they don’t send her home. Too bad that’ll make Krissi even more insufferable. Jessie interviews that Krissi is always threatening to beat people up and she just wants to take her down. Krissi says she’s not going anywhere and if she does, it’ll be her fault and she’ll go down swinging. Well, Jessie, there’s your answer. Push her into taking a swing and get her removed from the competition.

Luca’s the next person Gordon sends upstairs, and I get to be shocked when Gordon says, “The person going home and leaving their MasterChef dream. That person is. Bri. It’s not you. Make your way upstairs.” The judges remind Savannah she made the top ten.

Next time, Bri gets to make sausage. See you in two weeks.

Nina Lisa

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