I’m starting a bit late with this. Luca just picked Natasha as his teammate for tonight’s first ever team mystery box challenge. Three dishes from 50 ingredients; one from each state, and 60 minutes to do it in.

It doesn’t sound like either member of either team is listening to the other one, especially when Krissi comes up with an ingredient Jessie wasn’t aware of. Luca’s idea doesn’t sound like it’s going over well with the judges, either.

Krissi continues screwing up everything she touches, which pisses Jessie off. She gave up on the lobster salad, so Jessie takes over and asks her to do the lamb and dessert. But the crust Jessie gives her hasn’t been chilled or anything, so she asks about making a crepe. Except she doesn’t know how to make crepes, so while Jessie tries to talk her through it, she says she’s not comfortable. Which makes Jessie retort, “Babe, you abandoned me on the lobster, so you gotta pick something you can cook.” Best line of the night! Of course, it sets Krissi off in her usual threats of physical harm, and she stomps off in a huff. Oh, please, eliminate her for that! Especially because she left the lamb too rare, and Jessie has to sear them to finish them with two minutes left. About then, Krissi grabs a mixer and whips up a dessert. It’s not a bad idea: Chantilly cream, toasted macadamia nuts, and chopped, cooked apples.

Blue team presents a seafood trio for their appetizer. It’s a lobster tail, a scanty piece of trout, and a fried oyster, with avocado puree and mango sauce. It looks like crap, and Joe calls them on it. He says it tastes good, but could’ve been great. The entrée is rack of lamb with parsnip puree and roasted beets. Gordon says the lamb is delicious and the puree is also good. Presentation and the beets, not so much. Their dessert is a deconstructed strawberry tart with vanilla pastry cream. As Graham says, it looks interesting. Since their crust wasn’t working and they were running short on time, that’s what they wound up with. Like their appetizer, it didn’t really work, though.

Red team brings up a cold lobster salad with citrus vinaigrette. There are no green beans on the plate. Krissi tells Joe what it is, but it turns out that Jessie redid the vinaigrette. Joe thinks it’s good, but could use something like a bit of mango or some more citrus. Their main dish is also rack of lamb, with Swiss chard, a red wine jus, and roasted beets. Jessie didn’t have time to cook the lamb, and when Gordon asks about it, she admits it. Krissi butts in with, “The lamb was not cooked properly, in my opinion.” FINALLY, Gordon calls her on it. “Krissi, why do you always let other members in your team take over and then say nothing, but then throw them under the bus when it comes to taking responsibility?” Yes! She claims it reflects on her, and that she had to go take five minutes to calm down. Jessie says she had to finish the lamb. Krissi claims she thought it was in the oven. I wish the losing team didn’t have to do a pressure test to determine who gets to go home, because it needs to be Krissi. She shouldn’t have even gotten this far.

Luckily, Jessie saved the lamb. Graham asks Krissi to walk him through her dessert. The chryon says it’s an apple tart with Chantilly cream, but we know there’s no crust. It’s not the restaurant quality dessert the judges were looking for, but he says it’s a good effort. They like how the blue team worked together, but Jessie almost saved the red team entirely on her own. But the blue team won, and Gordon compliments them on working well together and not giving up at any point. As usual, Krissi doesn’t take the blame for contributing to her team’s loss. Jessie goes upstairs to vent to Luca and Natasha, and Krissi comes up to confront them. We cut to commercial after plenty of producer pushed posturing.

The pressure test is a chocolate mousse, according to Graham, which puts a smile on Krissi’s face, and Jessie also feels quite confident. Until Joe steps forward, and reveals he wants a chocolate molten lava cake. Krissi still looks happy. Jessie still looks confident. Gordon’s dessert is a chocolate soufflé. The girls still look happy. They have 75 minutes to make all three desserts, which must be presented at the same time. The ingredients are at their stations, and after some minor insults, the girls get to work. Jessie even takes her shoes off to run around better. Natasha knows Krissi’s a baker, and can probably do this, but she notes Krissi’s mousse is a bit thick as the ladies put them in the fridge.

The judges think it’s going to be too close to call, but it looks like Krissi’s falling behind in time for the soufflés. Or at least, that’s what we’re supposed to think, as we cut to commercial with less than 15 minutes left as she puts them in the oven. Soon after we come back, it’s less than 5, and then there’s about two and she takes them out. The judges don’t think it’s done, but she’s confident. I’m pretty sure soufflés take longer than ten minutes, but they’ve got to do the lava cakes, and with one second left, she gets the lava cake down, which upsets me, Natasha, and Jessie.

Graham tries both soufflés, and says nothing. He tells the other judges Krissi’s was raw, then turns around and gives it to Jessie. Graham’s chocolate mousse is up next. I misunderstood the earlier comments; Jessie has the denser mousse, so it goes to Krissi. Now it’s up to Joe, and if I wasn’t eating, I’d hold my breath. Both lava cakes have fallen, but Jessie’s looks worse, and Joe calls it more raw than molten. We hear Joe tell the others that Jessie’s crust was just a bit better. He comes back out and says the decision was based on the most minute details, so I’d cross my fingers if I a) wasn’t busy typing and b) know a commercial break is coming up. Of course I fast forward, but have to stop and watch the trailer for MasterChef Junior. I’ll be watching that online.

When Joe talks about one having the crispiness and chewiness they were looking for, I’m very happy. After he says the person going to the semi-finals is Jessie, he claims it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his life. Gordon tells Krissi she has the right to her attitude, and Joe invites her and her son to dinner with him and his mother. She thinks Luca’s going to win. Ding dong!

I fast forward through the three remaining chefs’ journeys, and manage to catch up with the show. The judges show off the prizes under mystery boxes. Tonight’s final mystery box is interesting: they each have to make an elevated version of the dish that got them their apron. Of course, the winner gets, as Gordon calls it, “a life-changing” advantage.

Jessie says she’s elevating her plating. Luca thinks Graham will finally say yes to his dish. Natasha’s trying to enhance her flavors. Gordon tells Luca his sauce is off, and he has to start over. Luca’s panicking, as there’s less than ten minutes to go, and his freakish inability to make his national food under pressure is kicking in yet again. Natasha’s up first. Her audition dish was empanadas with skirt steak and what I can now recognize as a chimichurri sauce. The presentation on her final is gorgeous, and she also has a roasted corn puree. Gordon’s very happy with it. She tells Graham she put a little lard in the crust this time for flakiness, but it’s still a little thick. Joe tells her it was a smart dish, and he thinks she can win.

Graham calls Luca up. His broccoli rabe ravioli presentation also looks better, and Graham really likes it, but the sauce didn’t quite make it. Gordon asks him why cheese sauce? He says with the toasted pine nuts a brown butter sauce would’ve been better, but he knows Luca comes back from every knock he’s given. Jessie’s presentation of her sea bass en croute is also incredible, and she did a great job as well, according to Joe. Graham has a minor criticism on her presentation.

They’re ranking the dishes, and I’m not surprised to find Luca’s third. As usual, we have a commercial break before we find out who wins. It’s Jessie, but all three get to go into the pantry. Jessie will get to pick from three ingredients and Natasha gets to pick from the remaining two, which means she also picks for Luca. The three ingredients are a wheel of Grana Padano cheese, Kobe beef, and King crab. Crab is not a good ingredient for Luca, and both Jessie and Natasha know that. Jessie picks the beef, even tho she’s never worked with it. Gordon tells her it *is* similar to filet mignon, but more unforgiving. Joe asks Luca which of the two he’s most afraid of, and Luca asks Brer Fox not to throw him in that briar patch.

Natasha claims she knows what Jessie wants her to do but she’s got her own strategy. We have the obligatory commercial break before she reveals it, of course, and she hands Luca what he wanted, the Italian cheese. They have five minutes to pick out additional ingredients. I have no clue what I’d do with cheese. The judges tell us it’s very salty. Luca’s stuffing a veal cutlet with the cheese, and he’s also making a cheese and onion tart that Joe’s quite familiar with. That sounds good. Turns out Jessie’s forgotten to get butter. I know Luca would give it to her, but Gordon suggests Natasha, and she asks Natasha for a tablespoon. Natasha looks at her three sticks and back at Jessie before we cut to commercial. After, Natasha smirks and shakes her head. As Jessie heads back to her station, Luca throws her a stick. The judges make the obligatory comments about maybe he just threw away a quarter of a million dollars, but my respect for his chivalry has not diminished.

He’s up first. He presents Joe with pancetta wrapped veal with Grana Padano and sage and Frico (the cheese and onion dish). Joe tells him the Frico is exactly what it should be, but it’s very rich, and he should’ve added some acidity to cut through the fat. Gordon asks him if he seasoned the veal, but Luca knows the cheese was enough. Gordon says he bounced back after being knocked down. Graham commends him on showing a technique that he hasn’t done before, but isn’t thrilled with the presentation.

Gordon calls Natasha up with her King crab cold yakisoba salad with vegetables. She even has pickled radishes on the side. As she lists the ingredients, I wonder if she’s overpowered the crab meat, but Gordon says it’s incredible and bursts with flavor. He thinks it tastes even better than it looks, and if it weren’t for Joe and Graham having to have a taste, he’d just keep eating. Joe tells her she showcased the crab in a very, very smart way. Graham loves that she used Serrano peppers.

Jessie brings Joe her dish. He takes us out to commercial by asking her if she’s insane for picking an ingredient she’s never used before. When we come back, she describes her seared Kobe beef with ponzu butter and noodles. A quick Google search shows me ponzu sauce is a Japanese citrus sauce. And then Graham asks her to explain it to him, and she says she melted the butter with the ponzu in it, so I Google ponzu. Soy sauce, lime juice, vinegar, and fish flakes. Yeah, I wouldn’t put that on beef, and Graham agrees with me. She also made a papaya salad with those flavors, but chose to leave it off the plate. Gordon persuades her to let them try it, and tell her that choice was not a good one. I think it might be Luca and Natasha.  Gordon names Natasha first, and now I’m more certain than ever that Luca’s going through, and I’m right. The judges praise Jessie, and Joe offers her a job.

Advertisements