Category: Master Chef

It’s no secret, if you’ve been following this blog, that I’m rooting for Luca tonight. So I’m extra hyped to see they flew in his father and sister from Italy.

They have ten minutes in the pantry to get all the ingredients for a three-course dinner that they’ll serve to the judges in the MC restaurant.

They have an hour for their appetizers, which I’m not going to name without the assistance of the chryon. But the announcer reiterates that Natasha’s involves seared scallops, seaweed salad, and couscous, while Luca’s searing duck liver. Gordon talks to Natasha about her dish; Graham talks to Luca. Joe is concerned about sweetness, but Luca corrects him that one of the components has lemon and ginger for acidity. Oh, and while I’m thinking of it, I want to say right now I’m not going to be covering any talking heads, especially Jordan and Krissi.

The two bring their dishes to the usual table, and the judges ask Natasha what she thinks of Luca’s dish. She thinks it looks heavy. The judges head into the restaurant.

Natasha gets to go first, although I have my doubts about Gordon referring to her as a lady. Seared scallops with couscous and seaweed salad. Joe likes it. Gordon says it’s delicious and the scallops are cooked perfectly. Graham really likes the couscous.

Luca sets his dish on the table and then we break for commercial, which gives me time to pose a question I’ve been wondering for some time now: How do the cheftestants keep their dishes warm while they’re waiting for the judges to sample the other dishes ahead of them?

Luca’s plate is seared duck liver with brioche and peaches.  There’s also what he calls an Asian pear chutney. Gordon says it needed another 90 seconds. Graham says it was very rich and if the entrée’s heavy, it could be a mistake. Joe thinks it’s a masterpiece. The cheftestants head back to clear their stations while the judges confer. Graham reminds them they want all three courses to be cohesive. They head out to watch the next hour.

Natasha’s preparing monkfish, Luca’s making beef short ribs and using a pressure cooker to get them done in time. This time, Graham talks to Natasha about how she’s wrapping her fish in tripe. With ten minutes left, Luca has to open the pressure cooker. Everyone counts down as the cheftestants finish plating. They ask Natasha’s opinion of Luca’s dish again, and again she picks at it.

She’s serving five-spice monkfish with rice and coconut curry. Now, that’s an interesting combo. The only five-spice I’m aware of is Chinese five spice, which would not go well with the spices in curry. Perhaps she threw five spices on the monkfish and so that’s why she’s calling it that?

Gordon thinks it looks divine. Graham says the cook on the monkfish is awesome, but the spice is a little hot. Joe says the complexity is amazing, and Gordon says she’s elevated curry. Evidently the monkfish is also the hardest fish to get right.

Luca presents his braised beef short ribs with chanterelle mushrooms. Gordon says it looks fantastic, and the judges start to pull the ribs apart with their forks. I will note that Luca said the ribs would be tender if they fell off the fork. I can’t tell from the shot before the commercial break if they were tough or tender, although I’m leaning toward the latter.

Gordon says he barely has to touch his knife to it before it comes apart, and they’re brilliant. He’s afraid he’s going to die, but he’s glad this was his last supper. Joe wants to make a reservation at his restaurant already. Graham is also complimentary. The chefs return to the station while the judges discuss, and this time, I can see there’s definitely an audience there. I’ll have to check into getting tickets next season.

When the judges come out, Gordon tells them their dishes are better than any finale to date, and they’re basically tied. They have an hour for dessert, and it turns out they’re both making panna cotta. Natasha’s making two, so I hope that doesn’t work. I’m a bit more worried about Luca, who’s putting a salad into his. There’s some kerfuffle about his forgetting to strain something green before the commercial break.

Evidently it’s the whole panna cotta, and he has to start over. He claims there’s enough time for it to set. Natasha’s already set her base in the fridge, but later has to toss one because it didn’t set. She’s actually cut them, whereas his looks like soup in his bowl.

What Natasha didn’t toss is a coconut yogurt panna cotta with passion fruit coulis and edible flower arrangements. Gordon scrapes his plate clean and reaches for Graham’s.  He says it’s the perfect ending to her meal, and Joe agrees that the yogurt helps clear the palate after the spicy monkfish. He does wonder if it’s a little too simple, though.

Luca has a basil panna cotta with tomato jam and honey mascarpone. He says there’s also granulate basil. Gordon thinks it looks like an appetizer and not a dessert. Gordon says the texture is sublime, and seems savory but not sweet unless you add the tomato jam, which makes it explode. Graham knows it’s Luca on a plate. Joe thinks he should’ve structured the dish differently and layered it so they were sure to get all the flavors in every bite.

Well, I think there’ve been a couple technical difficulties with Luca’s dishes, and I suspect that those minor quibbles may cost him the title. We go to break with the judges pretending they’re going to have a draw for the first time.

When we come back, Gordon repeats that question, and Joe says they can’t. Graham says one person has the slightest of edges, and they head back out. I’m going to stop typing and cross my fingers. And Luca wins! Yay! The moment is only spoiled by my friend’s undying cynicism, but I don’t want to get into that right now. I’m just counting myself lucky I could actually live blog this instead of having to watch it tomorrow, especially since I have yet to see the SYTYCD finale.


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.

So, last week I was sick, and Bri went home. Put those two words together and you get homesick, which is probably what the contestants are right now. So it’s kinda cool that we know they’ll get to see their families tonight.

Unfortunately, Krissi’s family, her son, is the only one who can’t make it, but he made a video for her, and Gordon puts his arm around her as they watch it. She’s in tears and so is pretty much everyone else.  The families go up to the gallery, and the contestants have 60 minutes to run into the pantry and grab up to 15 items to cook a dish that is inspired by their families.

Luca’s making risotto, which is his wife’s favorite dish. I’m a bit concerned, as are the judges, given his track record. Jessie’s happiness over seeing her parents is a bit dampened when they turn the mezzanine into a peanut gallery and start critiquing her. Natasha forgot to grab chicken stock, but she’s got a lot of veggies and is making her own vegetable stock, which will probably add more flavor to her curry (and less salt) than the prepared stuff.

Natasha is the first called up. She presents a green curry with coconut, corn, and rice. The corn is roasted. Joe says it’s judiciously spiced and while the corn is not traditional, it works. Graham says it’s beautifully balanced and thinks she might win. Gordon says it’s delicious.

Graham calls forward Jessie. It’s seared duck breast with Brussels sprouts and blackberry reduction. That sounds good. She roasted them with a bit of pancetta and pecans. I’ll have to try that. I’ve done Brussels sprouts with butter, brown sugar and toasted pecans, but I haven’t gone savory with them that way.

And amazingly enough, Luca is called up. Traditional Italian dishes have been his downfall, but the judges were talking about his main component all night. He made pan seared halibut with white asparagus risotto. That sounds really yummy. White asparagus has a slightly more delicate flavor than green, so I can see it pairing well with white fish. (Green asparagus pairs well with salmon).

Gordon tells him he’s starting to think like a chef, and tells him well done. Joe, the fellow Italian, is up next. He says Luca delivered what they asked for. I have no idea who’s won, but as Gordon talks about amazing restraint, which I think he also said to Luca, I hold out hope. Of course, we have to have a commercial break before he says the name.

And my surmise is correct. The families have to say good-bye before Luca gets to see the ingredients. As the judges congratulate him and take him into the back, Jordon, Jessie and Natasha group up while Natasha whines about how he’s going to target her. She’s not wrong. Jordan, of course, is pissed Luca won instead of anyone else.

The judges tell Luca they’ve already picked what everyone else will be cooking, but he still has plenty of advantages. This will be the tag-team sushi challenge. Luca doesn’t have to compete, and will pick the teams. There’ll be three teams of two. This should be interesting.

I see some tempura, as well. Krissi’s not happy. And when Gordon tells them the good news is they won’t be working alone, none of them look happy. James will be working with Jordan. I’m surprised because I think they’ll do well together. Neither are sure what he’s thinking.

Luca confirms he’s got a target on Natasha, and he puts Krissi with her. But Natasha’s planning on using her for prep work, and Krissi’s just fine with that. This leaves Jessie with Eddie. And now Gordon reveals the tag-team twist. James, Eddie, and Krissi are all starting. They need to rinse the rice and get it started, then start on the tempura batter.

Jessie appears to also be using Eddie as a prep cook. The judges seem to think that the pairings are good; James and Jordan both have big egos (although James is quieter about it, which is why I like him and not Jordan), and the judges see that clashing. Eddie, it appears, doesn’t know what he’s doing, and they’re not sure Jessie’s strong enough to pull him through. The teams switch, and they’ve got sea urchins to deal with. Gordon has to come over and tell Jordan not to use his fingers, and not to rinse the umi. Commercials.

Natasha and Krissi review their plan before the next switch. Jessie claims she’s confident in Krissi’s ability to slice the tuna; the judges aren’t so sure. They’re switching every five minutes. Krissi is being amazingly subservient, so it’s working. Jordan and James appear to be falling apart, and Jessie and Eddie are also lagging. Another switch and it’s time to do the tempura. One switch left. Joe says he sees platters not even half done.

Natasha’s working super-fast, Jordan appears to be lost, and so does Jessie. 30 seconds left, and people, including Graham, are jumping up and down with the excitement. Even I’m typing faster. Time runs out. I’m not sure, from the grunt Jordan lets out, if they got the last piece on the plate or not, but I know we’ll rehash it after the break.

James tells him, “We did it.” so I guess so. Krissi and Natasha are up first.  Gordon tells them he’s impressed, because at 2:50, they had nothing on the plate. Graham asked if they’re taking 50-50 credit, and Natasha says yes. Joe asks Luca if he thinks his plan worked. Luca admits it didn’t. Natasha says he’s her next target.

Jordan and James are next. Evidently, they forgot salt a couple times, and their shrimp rolls look like crap as Joe shows it to them. They laugh, although I think it’s nervously (because I’ve done that), and Gordon gets upset at them for doing so. Then he gets to tear the plate apart himself. I can only hope that Jordan will be the one to go home if they’re the worst.

Eddie and Jessie bring up their tray, and it looks horrible. Graham confirms that Jessie has sushi experience, but the fish isn’t butchered well and that’s on Jessie. The rice, which Eddie did, is overpowered by vinegar. Eddie insists it was 50-50, and so does Jessie. Joe confirms their sentiments, but disagrees. He asks Eddie if he’d eat the umi roll, and as Eddie looks very uncomfortable, we head to commercial. I wouldn’t eat it, but I don’t eat a lot of sushi. I don’t particularly care for it. The closest I want to come to raw fish is ceviche. I don’t know if they’ll send Eddie home for incompetence, or Jessie for not being strong enough to pull him through. The latter choice doesn’t seem all that fair, but I’m not sure they won’t. As I suspected, Eddie refuses to eat it.

I’m also not surprised when Natasha and Krissi win. Gordon compliments Krissi on being humble and dedicated. James and Jordan are also safe, due to the technical ability on fileting the fish. And Eddie is gone. I don’t like it, but it’s fair.  Gordon tells him to open the gastro pub because he’s an amazing cook.

Next week:  Lynn, Bri, and Bemi, whose name I’ve forgotten how to spell, return for a second chance. I’d be happy to see any of them back. Jordan, of course, is pissed, and I’m sure Krissi and Natasha feel the same way, especially given how much they hate Bri. See you then. NT

The chefestants open their mystery boxes to reveal meat grinders. The judges reveal a huge array of meat. It’s time to make sausages!

Krissi and James are excited. Good for him. Natasha also looks happy. Bleah. And of course, vegan Bri freaks, until she sees they’ve included vegetarian options such as tofu and tempeh. Eddie is beyond happy. I even see alligator. We hop right into it; the judges discussing what they’d use and how, then get to going around and tasting while a producer interviews the cheftestants. Both Joe and Graham check in with Bri, who decided to use the saitan instead of the tempeh. Krissi claims she has a go to Italian sausage recipe, while the full-blooded Italian appears to be having some problems. I really hope someone can take her down. Gordon points out that she’s never won a mystery box challenge; so I expect this to be the first. Damn. James is probably gone if she has as much control over the elimination challenge as previous winners.

Top 3. Natasha is called up first. She brings up a chicken sausage with fried egg and potato hash. Gordon questions her closely about it. He thinks it’s delicious. Graham thinks she did a great job. Joe tells her it’s really well seasoned and complex. As Graham monologues about the next dish, I cross my fingers because it sure sounds like he’s talking about Eddie. And he is. Eddie made pork sausage with purple cabbage and apple chutney. Yum. Graham says it’s a stellar dish. Gordon tells him he could see it in his gastro-pub.

When Joe monologues about Krissi, he says he could put her dish on his menu. She made Italian sausage with peppers and polenta. He also mentioned she’s never won a mystery box challenge. Foreshadowing. He calls her formidable. Gordon tells her he thinks she’s taking the competition more seriously than anyone else behind her, and tells her it’s her best performance so far. Gordon says the advantage is pivotal, so I’m just cringing. Actually, now that I think about it, I think Bri is in more danger than James.

I breathe a sigh of relief when Gordon says it’s the second mystery box win. Now it’s 50-50 to be Eddie, and I’m thankful when Gordon says his name. They reveal the following ingredients to him: Ham, wild mushrooms, and shrimp. He doesn’t have to cook, and he chooses the mushrooms. I’m a bit surprised, because usually we don’t see what the competitors choose for everyone else to cook with. And Gordon explains that not everyone is going to cook with them. Turns out that half of the remaining cooks will be using canned mushrooms, and Eddie gets to dictate who.

His target is on Jessie, James, and Jordan. Well, I wish he’d added Krissi to that list, but if he can get rid of Jordan, I’ll be happy. Jordon suspects Eddie gave him canned mushrooms, and so does Jessie. Surprisingly enough, James, Jordan, Bethy, and Bri all get the fresh mushrooms. Jordan says it’s an advantage. But Eddie’s plan is to make them forget it has to be the star of the dish. Jessie got canned mushrooms because, as a chef on a yacht, she’s probably used to working with expensive ingredients, and he thinks she’s never even seen them. Was she born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Eddie?

I just hope Krissi screws up her canned ones enough to get sent home. Joe picks up on the mind game Eddie’s playing with Jordan. Bethy forgot to get any form of sugar, so she has no recourse but to ask the others if they have any. Jordan gives her some. He doesn’t regard her as competition, so he wants to beat her at the top of her game, he explains.

I’m trying to figure out why Eddie gave the vegetarian fresh mushrooms, but as she explains her dish to Joe and Graham I don’t hear her mention mushroom anything. Sounds like the mind game Eddie was planning for Jordan is trapping her, instead. And Gordon even reminds Jordan to keep the mushroom the star of the dish. He tells everyone this when he tells them to plate. Bit late, there, Chef.

Bethy’s up first. She did Szechuan noodles with wild mushrooms. Graham asks her what she’d give it on a scale of 1-10. She says an 8. He says there seems to be a lot of noodle to mushroom. It’s overpoweringly sesame oil and ginger. Joe tells her she should’ve gone with something Euro-centric and refined. He also can only taste the sesame oil. She used too much, and Gordon tells her it looks like she’s got one foot out the door.

Natasha’s next. She presents a mushroom ravioli made with canned mushrooms, and crispy pancetta. She also made a mushroom cream sauce. Joe tells her it’s a good job. Gordon tells her she elevated a $1 can into a $10 dish. James is third. He has a wild mushroom chowder with crème fraiche and arugula. And because this sparked a discussion, chowder does not have to have seafood. Graham tells him it’s too heavy and rich. Joe tells him it is way too salty and he needed to edit himself

Jessie brings up a (canned) mushroom risotto with pancetta and leeks. Gordon tells her she managed to hide the processed food flavor. Luca, who also had canned mushrooms, has a cream of mushroom soup with vegetables and croutons. There’s a lot of veggies and croutons on the soup, so I hope it doesn’t overpower the soup. Although that’s the only way it could not be the star. Especially if he didn’t season it well. Then I see that they’re in the dish and he pours an extremely thick something on there. Graham says it’s a little thick to be soup, but the only thing he would’ve eliminated is the black truffle oil.

Krissi made a (canned) mushroom cassoulet with eggplant and pancetta. I saw her take the tray of eggplant slices out of the oven, and wondered if she was really making the mushroom the star of the dish. I guess we’ll see. Joe says it’s an impressive effort. Bri calls her dish “A Walk Through the Forest”, which is what appears on the chryon, so I guess I have to actually listen to what she says as she describes it. But first I’ll note the chryon also says “with Sage, beet, and goat cheese”.  She says the dish has grilled wild mushrooms with a beet and goat cheese salad, and Krissi goes off on her for being a vegan hippie. Graham says she did make the mushroom the star and it’s one of the best things she’s done. Joe tells her it’s cooked perfectly and he’d expect to get it at a vegetarian restaurant. He says he’s impressed.

Jordan presents a mushroom ravioli with beet cream sauce and fried wild mushrooms. So much for Eddie’s plan. Bethy’s still the only one that really screwed up. Thankfully, Gordon tells him he can’t tell the mushrooms apart. Joe tells him it looks like he had canned mushrooms. Turns out that Eddie just thought he’d overdo it, and he did. Joe says he brought two front runners to their knees. Wonder if that means he’ll go home? I can hope. But I’m going to guess it’ll be Bethy.

Eddie assures Natasha he thought she’d do well either way; he was after Jordan or James.  Natasha is announced first, and Bri wins dish of the night. They’ll be team captains next week. I want to note here that there seems to be an emphasis on the judges saying “at least one person” will be leaving. Gordon says that the first of the worst took fresh mushrooms and obliterated them. That could be Bethy, Jordan, or James. I’m hoping it’s Jordan, even though I know Bethy’ll be up there, too. In fact, I realize that all three of them will be up there. So there’s a greater chance that someone I like will be going home. Ugh. When he says it’s almost an embarrassment, I’m not surprised he calls forward Jordan. Joe calls forward James, and Graham calls Bethy. Gordon says Eddie put three of the strongest cooks on the bottom. James steps forward first. I think Jordan did worse. In fact, I think Jordan did worse than Bethy, but I also think Bethy did worse than James and I think he’s safe. Gordon thinks so, too. However, he disagrees that Bethy’s dish was better than Jordan’s, and she’s gone. She says Jessie’s going to win, and then we see her exit interview.

Next week, they’ll be camping out and cooking whatever nature provides. It looks like the pressure test is biscotti. Should be fun!

Nina Lisa

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

Unlucky 13. Mystery box challenge. Bri wants veggies, Luca wants shellfish. It’s a pig’s head. Even Krissi’s turned off. Must be a family member. They don’t have to break them down, tho. It’s been done for them. They have ears, tongue, cheeks, and snouts to cook with. I’ve had cow tongue, and it’s not too bad. I have no idea how it was cooked, tho. I think it was boiled, and I’m not sure it could be done in an hour. Crispy fried pig ears (sliced into strips, and maybe treated like calamari re spices and some kind of aioli) would be doable, IMO. Braised cheek? No clue what to do with the snout. Oh, they have 90 minutes, which helps. But the pantry is limited.

Gordon says he’d blanch and braise the tongue. OK. He thinks vegetarian Bri will struggle. I agree. She has the head covered up, but a good plan. Joe tries Lynn’s broth and evidently he finally has the seasoning right. Gordon likes Johnny’s flavor profile. Jessie’s going Mexican/Southern. Hmm. Gordon calls five minutes and tells them to think about plating now. The judges seem pretty happy with their discoveries, and I haven’t heard them yelling at anyone or expressing any disappointment. Sixty seconds and everyone’s plating. Once time’s up, the judges do a quick walk-through to pick the final three.

The first person called up is Lynn. They’re quite happy that he’s finally shining. He made braised tongue and cheek with parsnip puree. The palate is Asian. Gordon’s impressed with the fineness of the puree. He says the dish has class. Graham tells him good job. Joe says it’s an incredible fusion and it’s either a $24 appetizer or a $36 entrée.

Next up is Jessie. Johnny was hoping he’d be called up. Jessie’s got braised cheek and ear with black-eyed peas and roasted corn. Graham tries it first. He says it explodes with flavor and the pork is tender and delicious. Joe says it has the right amount of seasoning. Gordon says it’s seasoned beautifully.

Johnny is called up. He made tongue and cheek tacos with tomato jam, according to the chryon, but his description sounds even better. Joe leads off this time. He says it’s just really good and Johnny’s on top of his game. Graham says it’s awesome, like he’s tailgating at the Superbowl. Gordon says it’s delicious and shows restraint. He says it’s Johnny’s best dish so far.

I’m thinking Johnny might win. Or maybe Lynn? As Gordon drags it out and Johnny interviews that it’s going to be him, we go to commercial. And Lynn is the winner. He follows the three chefs into the pantry. Graham says they’re not going to tell him what the theme is; they’re bringing in a special guest. So we know it’s Christine. She looks good. He gets to choose from her three favorite ingredients: chicken, catfish, and a live Dungeness crab. I believe the catfish will be most difficult. Lynn doesn’t have to cook, and can assign one cook a different ingredient from everyone else. He picks catfish for Krissi. Good choice! And of course, we don’t get to see what he chooses for everyone else. I guess it depends on how many people he wants to challenge. If it were me, just in case Krissi has a Southern relative, I think I’d throw crab at everyone. Chicken has got to be one of the easiest meats to prepare. Although, they’d’ve had to butcher it.

The judges go out and introduce Christine. Beth is happy to see her and calls her inspiring. Gordon describes the twist, and then Lynn comes back down to escort Christine up to the mezzanine. Krissi claims he bleeped with the wrong girl. Bri’s not too happy about cooking with a live crab, either. Christine announces a final twist, which is that they’re all going to be blindfolded. They have 60 minutes. Everyone puts the blindfolds on, then start attempting to set out their ingredients and killing the crab. I feel even sorrier for Bri. Lucas manages to kill his crab, I think. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a joke. After only a couple minutes, Gordon calls a halt and tells them to take the blindfolds off.  Natasha and Savannah voice their newfound respect for Christine.

Krissi’s determined to do a good job on the catfish. She’s serving it with mashed potatoes. Lucas is struggling a bit with shelling the crab. Gordon visits with James and asks him about Krissi. James points out you don’t usually serve mashed potatoes with catfish. Joe goes over to investigate and is unimpressed. He tells the other judges she’s doing a Sunday leftover dinner. Lynn escorts Christine downstairs, where she and the rest of us learn she’ll be a guest judge.

Krissi is up first. She made bacon cheddar mashed potatoes, which would completely overwhelm the delicate flavor of catfish. That’s better for a stronger tasting fish, like salmon. At least the steamed asparagus should be OK. And she left the skin on, which is how she’s always had it. Again, no. Christine says it needs to be more elevated. Graham calls it a $6.99 blue plate special. Joe spits it out. He says it tastes like mud. He’s over her. Of course, she’s convinced it’s because she had a fight with Joe, and mutters something as she goes back to her station. Joe calls her out, and she claims she was agreeing with him. We go to commercial.

When we come back, she’s telling everyone around her her fish tasted great, not muddy. Natasha’s up next. She did ginger crab cakes with a beet salad. Joe tells her they always expect crab cakes and they judge them harshly. Christine likes them, and so does Joe. Bri is up with a summer crab stack with pea and avocado mash and corn puree. Graham tells her pea and crab are a good combo, and corn and shellfish work. He likes it a lot.

James brings up a spicy crab creole with rice and seafood broth. Christine likes the heat at the end and says there’s levels of flavor. Gordon is very impressed. Beth has a mascarpone crab cake with grilled peach and avocado salsa. Interesting. Sounds like they’d go well together, although I wouldn’t touch the salsa, personally. That’s just two flavors I don’t do. She says she also made a lemon and herb crème fraiche. Joe spits it out; it’s completely raw. Christine has to agree with him. Krissi may be safe. Seafood is a rarity for her, unfortunately.

Luca carries a bowl up and puts it down. Gordon asks him to describe his soup to Christine. Luca says, “Actually, it’s a risotto.” He made a mistake in the presentation. The chryon says it’s a crab risotto with asparagus and lemon. Gordon manages to scrape a spoon together for Christine, who finds it too salty. Gordon tells him he screws himself when he slips back into his Italian safety net. Joe calls it an embarrassment. Turns out he added fish sauce. Oh, dear. Krissi’s definitely safe, I’m afraid. But if Beth goes home over Luca, I’ll live. Luca’s appropriately embarrassed.

As the judges discuss, Christine makes a case for Krissi, but the fish sauce is also mentioned. Natasha is called out as a winner, but the best dish of the night belongs to James. Before they call up the three worst, Gordon says “at least” one is going home. Judging from the title of top 13 and top 12, it’s only one, tho. Luca, Beth and Krissi step forward. Luca is bawled out first. But the other two dishes are deemed worse. Krissi’s called out for her poor attitude. My fingers are crossed, but Beth is going home.

The dirty dozen. For the team challenge, some unlucky couple will have them catering the reception. Thankfully, when the montage show us the pressure test participants, I see both Jordan and Krissi sweating it out. That makes me happy. One, because maybe we’ll get rid of them. Two, because whichever team they’re on I already know is going to lose, so I can skip recounting a lot of the melodrama.

Anya, a foodie, and Aaron, a food scientist, are introduced. When Gordon reveals that everyone’s going to their wedding the next day and they’ll be cooking the food, the cheftestant’s are flabbergasted. The bride hauls out a LOOOONG list of Nos. I’m not going to rattle any of them off. Gordon announces that Graham will be doing the appetizer and he’ll be doing the dessert. The next day, Joe adds that there’re 15 vegetarians at the wedding.

James and Natasha come forward. They’re the team captains for Blue and Red, respectively. James says it has to taste great AND look good, and he thinks Lynn has the biggest edge in that. Natasha picks someone she hasn’t had a chance to work with to be her co-captain: Eddie. James picks Jessie. Natasha picks Jordan, and I rejoice. I didn’t think Lynn and James could be on a losing team. James says he’s going to go with “Big John”. Natasha claims Bethy will be her right-hand woman. Ah, a three-headed monster. That spells failure, all right.

James picks Bri, Natasha picks Savannah. James gets the final pick, which will determine the teams. He picks Luca, which makes Krissi happy since she doesn’t think James is a strong enough leader. When Gordon asks him, Luca says the same about Natasha, which of course pisses her off. But yeah, it was an insult, you know? So it’s okay that she’s pissed off, and calls him a joke. Even tho I don’t like her, she’s got a right to her feelings. Yes, it helps that I know she’s going down. Hell, Krissi has a right to her feelings, but she’s more obnoxious about pushing them on other people than Natasha is. While I feel compelled to point out that this IS a reality show, so Frankenediting abounds, Krissi’s one of those people where, unless they took what she says one word at a time, she really is the asshole she’s being portrayed as. She doesn’t really need a producer feeding her lines.

But now Joe tells them they each have to pick one person to not cook, and if they lose, that person doesn’t have to cook in the pressure test. Surprisingly, she picks Krissi. James says one person is a hair behind the rest, and picks Bri. She and I both agree that when you’ve got 15 vegetarians to cook for, getting rid of the vegetarian is a dumb move. I want to know why the clips showed Krissi sweating during the pressure test? Either they decided to give Natasha an opportunity to put her back in, or someone got injured too badly to continue and Krissi had to rejoin her team? IDK, and I’m not going to worry about it, because it’s time to find out what Graham and Gordon have planned for their dishes.

Graham’s got spring pea essence with whipped crème fraîche, and pink peppercorn and lavender infusion. It also has edible flowers floating on top. Gordon says he thinks that dish is what got Graham his second Michelin star. Gordon’s got a sticky toffee pudding, served with brown bread ice cream and a caramel sauce. Those are not going to be easy to fuse together with an entrée. James shares my concern. He doesn’t really want to do a red meat with that rich dessert, but Lynn (I think) talks him into a rack of lamb with parsnip puree. For their vegetarian offering, they’re going with grilled mushrooms over a goat cheese crème fraiche. I’d want a bit more than that if I were a vegetarian. That’s a side dish. True, I buy vegetarian cookbooks to find more ways of preparing vegetables, but I think Nikki’s (still on The next Food Network Star, which I’ve decided not to recap) idea of meat on the side instead isn’t a bad one.

Natasha overrules her team’s idea of short ribs and goes for halibut with a miso beurre blanc. For the vegetarians, she has an eggplant-tomato stack. Again, that’s the equivalent of serving a side salad, not an entrée. No wonder they lose, and the narrator begins to discuss their downfall. When Gordon goes to talk to Natasha, she pays about as much attention to him as she did to her team. He asks her if she’s really that bleeped arrogant. Yes, Gordon, yes she is. Commercials.

When we come back, the blue team’s entrée is going swimmingly, and Natasha’s team, according to Gordon, has deserted the sinking ship. Graham’s appetizer sends the bride into an orgasm, and Fox tries to make her commentary a hash tag. Not happening, Fox. The narrator reminds us that the guests’ expectations are now very high. And Bri gets to point out there’re a lot of foodies and chefs among the guests. James sounds almost ready to let the lamb rest. The narrator mentions that Gordon’s dish is also a Michelin star dish. Red team is failing miserably; three minutes to go and they’re not ready to serve. But Lynn appears to have fallen down on his presentation duties.

Gordon tells Natasha to stop doing everything and expedite. I have it on good authority (from a former restaurant owner) that not a lot of restaurants actually use expeditors. Gordon calls Blue’s plates back because they’re dirty. It takes seven minutes to get the head tables’ four plates out. The lamb dish also has spring peas and wild onions. The Red team’s chryon says seared halibut with baby carrots. Joe  says they’re “baby roasted carrots” and adds that there’s a prosciutto vinaigrette on the salad. Natasha’s doing well, but Lynn’s sweating onto the plates and not being consistent. He then switches to wiping his face, and then uses the same rag to wipe the plates. Gordon goes off on him, and rightly so. That’s a health concern. Gordon talks Graham into expediting for Blue and they catch up quickly.

The bride and groom liked the visual for the blue team, but preferred the halibut. The narrator says the guests are split down the middle as Gordon serves the dessert. More orgasms. The three factors in determining the winner are the guest’s opinions, service, and how well the two dishes tied Graham and Gordon’s offerings together. Yeah, that right there’s why Blue wins. Interesting that I wasn’t going to recap all this melodrama, but I did and now I’m 20 minutes behind. So I’m going to stop until the pressure test. And I’m completely thrown when the bride announces that the red team won. Must’ve been Frankenediting that got me. Or maybe it was footage from next week mistakenly shown. IDK. Nevertheless, I’m glad I did recap the sturm und drang.

The blue team acknowledges that service sucked, but James was expediting for most of it. Gordon says Lynn’s vegetarian dish had 12 elements to it, and it should’ve been less complicated. Joe announces that they’re not all competing. Gordon says each of the judges gets to pick someone to save. Since the team is five people, that’d leave two competing, so I wonder who gets to pick who comes back in? Because that’d explain Jordan and Krissi. Yay! That thought makes me very happy now. Joe saves Jessie. Graham saves Luca. And Gordon chooses James, saying he was totally engaged. Johnny’s not happy it wasn’t him.

The judges say it’s a culinary battle, and they have 60 minutes to make two different flavored macaroons. They have the same basic ingredients: almond flour, powdered sugar, a vanilla bean, eggs, and sugar. They have to make a dozen macaroons and fit them into a box. As Gordon starts to give them time, the music swells, which should lead to a commercial break, and I note there’s still about 20 minutes left. Which gives us time for the twist I’m still waiting for. Instead, Lynn and Johnny dash off to the limited pantry on Gordon’s “Now!”

Talking heads say who they want to go home, and the judges discuss the chemistry of macaroons, and how to fit exactly one dozen into the box. Johnny says he’s made macaroons before. Graham and Joe check on them. With ten minutes left, they start putting their macaroons together. At two minutes, Gordon tells them to check that they can fit twelve in the box. Johnny appears to be of the “If it doesn’t fit, force it” persuasion, and his end macaroon showers the box and counter with crumbs. They bring them up front.

Lynn has two on top of his box, which is what the judges think Johnny should’ve done. Lynn has five raspberry macaroons and five vanilla bean with salted caramel macaroons in the box. Gordon says visually, it has a wow factor, but he doesn’t like the salted caramel. Lynn put fresh raspberries in the others, which Gordon says is a no-no. But he likes the flavor. Graham agrees about the salted caramel and raspberry. He says it would’ve been better if Lynn had made a raspberry jam for the filling. Joe’s never heard of fresh fruit in a macaroon, either. He gets Lynn to admit the salted caramel is jarred dulce de leche with salt added.

Johnny has a chocolate macaroon with a peanut butter mousse, and a vanilla macaroon with a raspberry mascarpone filling. I’m afraid another one of my favorites is going home. And with ten minutes left, that was definitely a clip from a different show that showed Jordan and Krissi sweating it out. As Gordon opens the box, we can see that the macaroons have pretty much all been smashed together. Gordon tries one and says it has good flavor. Graham also likes the cookie flavors. All three judges are disappointed at his childish display of temper and frustration. I think his flavors will get him through. And Graham notes the cook on the cookies was very nice. I cross my fingers again. And Johnny’s gone.

Next week, Eva Longoria appears out of a huge mystery box and is a guest judge. And there’s a brutal pressure test with a shocking elimination.

Top 16, Parts One and Two. Judging from the opening montage, Red team will lose this upcoming challenge of cooking for 101 off-duty fire-fighters. The challenge is a Wal-Mart product placement cooking steaks with a sauce, and fresh veggies into two sides. Since I’m not exactly live-blogging this, I’m going to try to list team members separately.

Bethy, as captain of the Blue Team, picks Lynn, Jessie, James, Howard, Johnny, and Savannah (who she’s going to put on sauces with James).

Bemi picks Jordan (he’s not happy), Eddie, Luca, Natasha, Bre, and Beth.

Bethy picks Krissi, leaving Bemi with Kathy. OK, so now I know someone from the red team is going home. That explains why Luca looked like he might get eliminated, but from today’s montage, I’m guessing that was Frankenediting. Bethy is now given the chance to swap a team member. Bemi hopes she doesn’t pick Eddie or Jordan, because he needs them on the grill. So Bethy promptly picks Eddie and tossed him Krissi. Again, no surprise thanks to the montages showing her in a red apron.

Red team is doing steak and mushrooms, cauliflower puree, and a simple reduction sauce. Luca suggests using red wine as a base. When Bemi asks him what if they don’t have any, Luca says to use chicken stock. Sigh. No, for a steak sauce you’d use BEEF stock as a base. He’s been watching too many Swanson broth commercials. They make beef, too, as well as vegetable, IIRC, but you’d never know it from their commercials. Although I wouldn’t mind checking out the sodium amount in their new Flavor Boost packets (which I just found out also come in beef).

While red was a group effort, Bethy is numero uno captain of her ship. We know this works for her. Wonder if it’s because she leaves the sauce up to James, who is thinking either a balsamic vinaigrette or a chimichurri. She’s also dictated potatoes and red peppers for the sides. Ah, the narrator says the red team is not doing a rub. Mistake!!! Gordon tries to talk some sense into Bemi, but without any evident luck. He also tells Bethy to pick one or other of the two sauces, as she’s having James make both. I need to find a recipe for a chimichurri, since is the second cooking show I’ve seen where they talk about it.

Bre is interviewing about too many cooks in the kitchen on the red team, and the judges note it, too. But as the firefighters are shown heading out from their respective stations, Gordon has to yell at Bethy to get some steaks going, already. On the red team, Krissi is trying to talk Beth into putting cumin in the cauliflower puree. Beth wants nutmeg, but Krissi says they don’t have any, which is why she suggested cumin. Um, no. Mace would be my first choice, since they’re part of the same plant. Cinnamon would work in this instance, too. Cumin is a pepper and the flavoring is completely different.

Beth is trying to give advice, but the many cooks are holding to their own ideas. On blue, Bethy finally decides on the chimichurri sauce, which James now has to rush to finish. They’re also serving asparagus; I guess the red peppers are in with the potatoes? Red is struggling with their service. Blue is whipping them out but keep leaving stuff off. I’m going to pause now, since we know how this is going to turn out. The firefighters are pushing a button hidden in a lectern. Bemi notes one firefighter emphasizes a reach to one side, then give him a thumbs up, but that doesn’t really help him keep track. Bemi accepts the blame in an interview, so we’ll see if he picks himself to save during the pressure test. I know Krissi will be leaning over the balcony. Beth says their food was disgusting and Natasha goes off on her. Beth is in tears; while Bre tries to comfort her, but neither Krissi nor Natasha give a damn. Evidently Natasha took the remark personally, while Krissi’s just a bitch. I wish Bemi hadn’t saved her; she needs to go home.

The next day, Bemi blames the food and the rest of the team call him out for his leadership. The judges flat out give him immunity, and he gets to pick *one* other person. He picks Jordan for doing a good job on the grill. So it looks like Krissi will be cooking after all. Hmm. Luca looks like he’s wearing the outfit he was during last week’s Frankenediting, but he tends to wear the same thing a lot. They have to make Eggs Benedict. They have five eggs, one English muffin, one lemon, a chunk of Canadian bacon to slice, white wine vinegar, tarragon, chives, clarified butter, Dijon mustard, and peppercorns. That’s just enough for one portion. They only have one shot. As the chefs start in, the judges discuss what they’d do, and who they think will excel or fail. They peg Natasha as doing well and Krissi as not. Bre has never made it, Natasha has. This may be why she’s the only one who hasn’t done her Hollandaise yet. Luca’s water isn’t boiling. Beth is confident; she has experience poaching eggs and has a good sauce. Krissi’s sauce broke, so she has to start over, and she only has one egg to make the sauce, which evidently requires two or three. Now I understand why there were five eggs. Kathy drops her egg as she lifts it out of the water with a spatula (use a slotted spoon). The judges talk about whether or not the yolk broke; it doesn’t look like it, but Graham claims there’s some on his glasses. Natasha’s hollandaise also broke; it looks like mayonnaise, and so did an egg.

Kathy doesn’t have enough sauce on her eggs. Luca’s egg is undercooked. Hmm. Maybe they do all go home. But then Joe approaches Natasha, and in Krissi’s interview she’s wearing a different shirt, so we’ll see. Natasha added too much vinegar to her sauce, which turned it into a mayo. Good to know for future reference. Beth’s also looks bad, with a broken sauce, and in Natasha’s talking head about it, she’s wearing the same shirt. Beth looks like she is, too. Then Natasha interviews again in a different shirt, so once more, I’m going to give up on that. Bre, whose name I now see is spelled Bri (sorry, Bri!), and who has never made Eggs Benedict before, is the first one to get it right. Krissi’s looks like it turned out well, too. I can only hope Ms. Mayonnaise goes home, but I think it might be all four of the failures. No surprise, Krissi and Bri are safe. That explains the shot of Krissi on the balcony. Gordon says the judges couldn’t make up their minds, and all four of the rest of them are leaving the kitchen. As the four chefs give their talking heads, I’m waiting for the twist.

Yep. They have to face yet another test. OK, I said I wasn’t going to do this anymore, but Natasha’s interviewing in yet a third shirt from what she’s wearing right now. They’ll be line cooks at Gordon’s restaurant Burgr at Planet Hollywood Resort in Vegas. Usually, Burgr uses one executive chef, three sous chefs, and nine cooks to serve an average of 680 burgers each night, but tonight it’s going to be just the four of them. They’ll be divided into two teams of two, and each team will create a signature burger to serve. The diners will vote, and the losing team will go head to head in a final competition. At some point, some VIPs will come in, but the judges don’t say who yet. They tell them they have an hour of prep and 75 minutes of service. They’ve paired Beth with Natasha (oh dear), leaving Luca with Kathy. Gordon will expedite.

Luca talks Kathy into hamburgers, not cheeseburgers. Good choice. People have allergies and dietary restrictions and stuff. Beth volunteered to be leader, and is talking about fried eggs and truffle oil and stuff. She tells Gordon the egg in the hamburger will make it moist; he’s concerned about it turning into meatloaf. The fried eggs aren’t working, but Natasha refuses to take any ownership in coming up with alternatives when Beth asks her to. Luca is evidently putting a sauce on his burgers. Beth is making salad instead of working on the burgers. Gordon sets them straight, which is good, because service starts in twelve minutes. Natasha is ready to throw Beth under the bus, but Gordon’s talk got through to her and she runs up with three minutes left to give her ideas. Now the blue team is serving a beef burger with prosciutto, goat cheese, arugula, and aioli sauce. The red team is serving a beef burger with caramelized onions and arugula. The diners will get both burgers at the same time.

To accomplish this, Gordon tells Joe if one team says they’ll be up in two minutes, the other team better have them up them as well, or at least within sixty seconds, or they’ll lose votes. Blue team seems to be on the ball, and red team seems to be struggling. Joe is interviewing diners, and Blue is also pulling ahead in votes. In fact, at one point red team doesn’t have burgers ready, and Gordon starts counting down. Luca throws burgers at him, and he calls them out for one being raw. So, they lose those two votes. Now Beth starts struggling, burning the buns, then suddenly Joe brings back raw burgers from the red team. I’m not sure Luca knows how to grill burgers. Gordon calls both teams to him. The VIPs are coming in. It’s the other contestants, and the teams immediately take their aprons off to ensure anonymity. Gordon says they have to send out the 12 best burgers ever. Luca suddenly gets a handle on the grill, and has a bit of a strategy: he gets burgers prepped so they can serve immediately, which means the other team will only have 60 seconds to serve.

This appears to work; Beth starts burning buns again, and Luca rushes his last four burgers in an effort to cost blue those votes. It works, but since he rushed them, he might just’ve served them raw. Turns out at least one of red’s pre-made burgers was too done for one of the safe cheftestant’s taste. The four cooks have to watch their competition vote, and the blue team gets worried when the ones who didn’t get their burger have to vote red. They put their aprons back on, and their fellow competitors express surprise. One of the guys (I’ve forgotten who as I add this) asks Luca what happened to the cheese, but I’m sticking by my original opinon of it. Even though Krissi irritates me with her loud whinging about having to scrape off a lot of goat cheese so she could taste her burger. It tastes better with goat cheese, woman. Shut up. Blue wins by about five votes. Natasha says she’s happy for both of them, but more for her, as she’s not there to make friends. Drink! Kathy’s not happy about having to face “the Italian stallion”, and I can only hope he seriously kicks her ass.

They head to the top of Caesar’s Palace, which has two stations and the MC judging area from L.A. set up/reproduced. Graham lifts the lid off the example meal. It’s butter poached lobster with shaved fennel salad. Luca thinks Kathy’s not organized enough to produce this technically difficult dish, and I hope he’s right. They have 45 minutes. Kathy tells Gordon she’s going to take her time and prove Joe wrong about her yet again. Joe tells Gordon and Graham he doesn’t think she has the technique for it. The judges comment that they better start getting their lobsters, or someone’s not going to plate and Luca gets his, but Kathy doesn’t. The judges are worried she’s too focused on her butter, and impressed with Luca’s lobster technique until he cuts the tail off instead of twisting it. Commercials.

Instant replay when we come back, of course. Then Luca adds salt to the water after he puts the lobster in it, and interviews he’s never cooked it before. Salt’s handy; it lowers the boiling temperature of water as well as the melting temperature of ice. The judges comment again on Kathy’s lack of lobster, and this time she seems to hear them, including them urge her to twist and pull the tail off. Both have about ten minutes left and are done boiling their lobster and need to shell it and poach it; they weren’t supposed to completely cook it by boiling. Again, good to know for future reference. Luca’s got his salad going, and Kathy’s struggling to deshell the claws. They have to start plating. Luca does, but Kathy doesn’t as sixty seconds is called, and Gordon starts the countdown. Kathy’s dish looks messy, but we know she got the tail off right, so we’ll see. Gordon tells her it’s perfect, but the knuckles are slightly exploded. He says the butter is seasoned perfectly. Turns out she’s never cooked lobster before, either. I think Luca’s in serious trouble.

Graham doesn’t like the heavy lemon juice on the salad, and reminds her that the lobster isn’t the only thing they’re being judged on. Joe’s not 100% happy with her lobster. Poor Luca’s standing there holding his uncovered plate, and since both of them kept their coats on; I’m worried that the night chill on the rooftop is going to cool his dish down below acceptable levels. The judges like the presentation, though. Gordon claims it’s 30 seconds off from being perfect, but the salad and butter are both seasoned well. Graham likes it, and tells him to raise the water temp a bit to get the proper redness on the lobster. As usual, during the judges’ discussion, it’s impossible to guess who will win and who will go home. And going back with them to L.A. is Luca. Whew. Because I’m far behind, I fast forward through the judges’ farewell speeches, but stop in time to hear Gordon offer Kathy a chance to learn in his New York restaurant. The clips for next week show a horrible mystery box (looks like canned and flash frozen ingredients), and Joe’s mom as guest judge.

Two hours tonight. I’ll try to remember that in sixty minutes. One of my favorites went home last week. I hope none of them go home this. The first challenge is cooking for 300 elementary school kids, and they’re both picky and pretty blunt about what they do and don’t like to eat, so this should be plenty terrifying for them. Krissi, you still have more enemies than friends. I’d say shut up, but there’s no point; you won’t. Two teams; the captains were determined last week, and I’m sure they’ll call them over soon. They’ll be making an entrée and a dessert.

OK, Jessie (one of my favorites) and Jordan (one of this season’s assholes). Jessie picks Lynn. Jordan’s pissed. He picks Savannah. Jessie’s not happy. She picks Bethy. Jordan picks James. Jessie picks Beth. Jordan picks Eddie. Jessie picks Bime.  Jordan picks Johnny. Jessie picks Natasha. Jordan picks Krissi. Jessie picks Bre. Jordan picks Adrianna. Jessie picks Luca. If it weren’t for Jordan pontificating, I wouldn’t be able to keep up. He picks Howard. Jessie picks Malcolm, leaving Jordan with Kathy as last choice. Jessie tells us Kathy’s a weak link. Jordan lies that everyone on his team can cook, and assumes a dictatorship. That’ll go well. The healthy meal must consist of a protein, a starch, a veggie, and a fruit. Jessie gets to pick first. Her team picks corn because kids don’t like greens. They decide to go with chicken teriyaki and a strawberry crumble. Jordan’s team is going to do spaghetti and turkey meatballs with green beans and an apple crisp. That’ll be six hundred meatballs. I don’t know if they can make that many in an hour. The judges think the dark sauce on the chicken teriyaki will turn the kids off. Depends on which grade level; the younger ones might be.

Jessie’s meat crew is having problems with cooking chicken; Krissi’s bitching about the lack of meatballs, but I’m pretty sure she’s the one who claimed she could make them. Shut up, Krissi. Gordon talks Jordan into changing the meatballs into chopped meat for a meat sauce. Jessie’s sauce is too salty, so they’re adding water. Gordon’s also worried about the rice and veggies being cooked separately. He goes to interview the kids about food preferences. They look like they’re kindergarteners. None of them have heard of chicken teriyaki. They have to start plating and the green beans on the blue team aren’t done. Hordes of screaming children descend upon the two teams like a plague of locusts. There *are* some older kids, so I’m holding out hope for the red team. The announcer says there’re 301 kids. Good thing blue team switched to meat sauce, but they don’t have plates to serve. The teams are floundering with service.

Joe interviews the kids and is surprised so many like the chicken teriyaki, but the pasta is really going over well. Blue team’s beans are getting dinged, but the red team is falling behind in service, which means they’re losing votes. The judges are mixed, but overall prefer the teriyaki since the red team sweetened it up. I think the fact they missed several plates will hurt them. And it’s a fairly massive rush towards the blue team, looks like. But as they settle down, it looks more even, so the teams can’t tell. The percents are 58 and 42. Red wins! Most excellent. They had the better veggie and dessert. When they sweetened up the teriyaki, it made it kinda taste like BBQ, which a lot of the kids liked. And if I’d paid attention to the upcomings, I would’ve known Blue lost since Krissi’s yapping during the pressure test. Jordan’s team turns on each other, and him. Jordan claims it was his team’s inexperience in serving large amounts of people; Joe calls him out for his lack of leadership. Gordon announces that three of them will not be competing in the pressure test. He drags out telling us who gets to determine who’s safe so we can have a dramatic cut to commercial break. Just before we do, he heaves a sigh and looks up at the balcony. This means nothing. I suspect it will be up to Jordan, not Jessie, because it has been in the past. And IIRC, in that upcoming, Krissi’s snarking at Jordan. I don’t believe Jessie would choose to keep him safe. I know Jordan will keep himself safe.

Yep, knew it. Honestly did enough. Yeah, right. Of course someone he thinks he can beat. Howard. I’m surprised he picked James, tho. He says he doesn’t want to face him in the pressure test. Joe reminds him he can save himself, and he promptly does so. I have to admit I kinda prefer that they all have to make a dish, rather than that one test where they had to name all the ingredients in a pot of chili in the first season. Ah, cheesecake. Yes, that takes some skill. Eddie says he doesn’t even like cheesecake, which worries me. Joe agrees, after Gordon picks Johnny. Adrianna cuts herself. Gordon says the secret is in the base. Kathy’s making a berry compote. They have about 30 minutes left, and the cheesecakes should be baking now, Gordon says. Savannah says she’s making a salty caramel topping. Adrianna’s making a topping with guava paste and mangoes. Eddie’s oven is smoking. Oh dear. In his talking head, he’s wearing a different outfit than he is in the kitchen, tho, so I’m hoping that’s from a future interview. It sounds like he wasn’t able to close the pan correctly, and it’s leaking, so he puts aluminum foil on the bottom and tries to get it to cook more quickly. I’m afraid that’s going to mean he’s turning up the heat, which isn’t a good idea. Johnny’s putting pineapple on his, which the judges think is a bad idea. Kathy’s compote looks restaurant quality, according to Joe. They don’t like the idea of Adrianna’s guava paste. I think they’ll be surprised. Krissi’s first up, and Jordan starts trash-talking it. It fell, but it looks good when Joe holds the slice up. He says it’s light and restrained. Graham says it’s rich and creamy, and the raspberry is the right amount. Gordon also praises it’s appearance and taste, calling it sublime. Johnny’s next. He added coconut and a pile of whipped cream to the pineapple. Joe says the crust is too thick, but the cake itself has a good texture. The texture of the pineapples, however, is too fibrous. We don’t get to hear what the other judges think.

Kathy’s up now. Graham likes the topping and the cheesecake itself. Eddie’s called up. He also put a mixed berry compote on top, and when it’s cut into you can see the compote leaked into the cheesecake and colored it, so it looks very messy. Oh, dear. But Gordon tells him it’s a bloody good effort. Savannah’s next. It looks awfully thin when Graham slices it. Turns out the base is too thick, and the topping wasn’t done well. He tells her she may be going home. Joe thinks she’s throwing the competition to help Johnny stay in. He gives her a bite. She admits it’s too sweet and the crust is too thick. She tearfully says she’d like to stay. Joe tells her they’re there to find the next MasterChef and we cut to commercial. When we come back, we get to see that bit again. Short-term memory. Gordon and Joe are down on Adrianna’s cake before Gordon even cuts into it. I’m not sure he even tries it. Graham tells her it didn’t go the way she wanted it to. Joe tells her the crust is like sand, and it may have just bought Savannah another day in the kitchen. Eddie, Krissi, and Kathy are the first to join the gallery. Johnny nailed his filling, so he’s safe. Both Adrianna and Savannah interview in talking heads.

While Savannah’s teary, she’s wearing a different shirt, and Adrianna isn’t. I’m guessing it’ll be Adrianna, but I’ve based my guesses on that before and been wrong. I should point out Savannah also sounds like an “after-the-fact” interview. But it’s Adrianna. I think it was the canned guava, and Gordon implies as much. In the second hour, during the mystery box challenge, Gordon participates. Kathy,  you’re nowhere near as much of a loudmouth as Krissi. The elimination challenge twist has something to do with a lack of a mixer. Gordon has the chefs do a 180, then somehow manages to get into a chef’s coat and come strolling casually through the back doors. I suspect there was more cutting than we saw, since we had a couple of talking heads tossed into the footage. The ingredients are: black cod, black and white sesame seeds, shiitake mushrooms, baby beets, ginger, cauliflower, soy, rice wine vinegar, and miso paste, according to Joe. I can also see long grain white rice, what looks like either Chinese snow peas or edamame, and berries of some sort. Definitely an Asian theme. I’d broil the cod with a marinade of the soy, rice wine vinegar, and sesame seeds, and do a stir fry with the mushrooms, ginger, and cauliflower. Not sure where I’d put the miso; I’m unfamiliar with it. Possibly in the veggies. Since there’s only an hour, I might not have time for a dessert, but if I did I’d crystalize some of the ginger and then add some berries to it, and serve it over the rice with milk, if there is any. Natasha’s feeling the Asian fusion. Gordon claims he knows what he’s doing and asks Joe and Graham for their ideas. He also says sixty minutes is too long. He wanders up to the gallery. Eddie’s wearing the sweater I saw in the talking head earlier, so now I’m worried.

Thirty minutes gone and Gordon’s having a cuppa. This is giving the others some confidence. He finally starts in, and Joe gives him some crap about fixing a salad. Sounds like he’s doing a bit of a stir fry. Graham and Joe make fun of his accent before strolling among the others. Luca tries to get Joe’s opinion of his miso sauce. Johnny tells Graham he hopes Chef Ramsey isn’t doing fish and chips, since he is. Joe tells Howard his station’s a disaster and expresses the hope he’s not on the bottom. Howard says it’s time for him to be on top. Graham tells everyone there’s one minute left and they’d better start plating, then they start counting down from ten seconds. Gordon gets to go first, but the others get to go take a look and a taste of the sesame-crusted black cod over flavorful rice (I know there’s ginger and basil and mint in it; don’t recall what else he said) with caramelized cauliflower and a miso-peanut sauce. That makes sense; I seem to recall miso is very salty and the nut will help cut that. The judges say someone did something appalling, and plated raw fish.

Dramatic commercial cut. And then we replay that part, including the talking heads and reactions. Interestingly enough, Howard interviews that he’s looking around, wondering if someone did sashimi, when Gordon calls him up. It looks done to me, but I’m guessing he is. Joe throws the whole plate in the trash. The first plate they call up is James. Pan-seared crispy black cod with shiitake mushroom salad and miso vinaigrette. Crispy cauliflower something, too. Joe and Graham both think it’s delicious, and Gordon says it has finesse. Next is Beth, whose dish Graham says looked like something out of a restaurant and similar to Gordon’s. Black cod with sesame seed crust and caramelized beets and cauliflower, with a miso vinaigrette. Graham says it’s cooked perfectly. Gordon is equally enthused. The final dish is Luca’s, I’m guessing from the way the camera keeps lingering on his plate. Jordan, of course, is pissy. Joe asks him what he’d said about the sauce, and then tells him it’s amazing. Gordon tells him “great job”. Before they can announce the winner, there must be a dramatic cut to commercial, which will be followed by a replay of Gordon pausing and all three chefs’ talking heads.

So, my browser froze and I’m typing this in Word now, hoping that my save draft went through first. (It did).

Luckily, when we get back from commercial, Luca is announced as the winner fairly quickly, and we move on to his advantage for the elimination challenge, which explains the clip of him walking off with what is possibly the only mixer. (I don’t know exactly how to refer to the “coming up on” clips, and the wordpress spell checker doesn’t like “upcoming”, so I think I’ll just call them clips and hope y’all figure it out.)

The elimination challenge is dessert. Luca’s choices are two dozen cookies, a dozen cupcakes, or a traditional layer cake. He will also be safe from elimination, so is choosing for everyone else. Hmm. If he’s not baking, then he’s going to get to steal a mixer from whomever he considers his strongest competition. I hope it’s Jordan. He picked cupcakes, and after the reveal, the judges tell him about the mixer. Yes! Jordan better have some good muscles. Luca explains it’s karma for saving himself in the pressure test. They have 90 minutes.

Bime doesn’t do baking, so he’s stumped. Everyone’s kinda lollygagging while Jordan goes to town on the butter with a whisk. Jordan assures us he’ll still be here after this. Commercial break. Thirty minutes gone, and Gordon says he hopes the batter is in the oven. Bethy sounds like she’s overextended herself; she doesn’t do a lot of baking but has about three different kinds going. Graham and Joe don’t think much of Malcolm’s filling. Jessie’s test muffins don’t look good, and her talking head is in the outfit she’s baking in. Kathy’s also trying something she hasn’t done before.

The judges discuss various contestants as the clock ticks down past five minutes. Evidently, they also have to pack them in a box. Bethy’s toasting nuts with a blowtorch with less than a minute left, and the countdown begins even as I type, once more.

Howard’s up first. He has a Tahitian vanilla bean cupcake with a white chocolate cream frosting. It looks like he also grated some chocolate over them. The one Joe holds up is lopsided, and Howard says he doesn’t even eat cupcakes. Joe asks if he upset him earlier, and reminds him it’s the elimination test. Commercials. Looks like someone gets dropped on their head on SYTYCD next week, and my guess is that their partner will be going home, as Mary tells him “You cannot put someone in danger.”, over scenes of her being loaded into an ambulance.

Back to Joe telling Howard it’s an elimination test. He’s wearing the same outfit in his talking head. He used extract, not the bean himself, but Joe tells him he did a good job. Gordon likes the topping. We don’t hear from Graham.

Malcolm made buttermilk cupcakes with mascarpone frosting and rum banana cream. I wonder if Joe and Graham will actually try them. Graham does, but the cupcake is extremely dense. Gordon sticks his tongue out and says he’s been kicked in the bollocks. Malcolm’s talking head outfit is also the same as what he’s wearing, so I’m going to stop taking note.

Bime made vanilla cupcakes with vanilla and chocolate whipped cream frosting, and shaved chocolate on top. Graham praises them. Kathy’s next. Jordan swears about them. They’re vanilla with chocolate peanut butter and peanuts. She put different bottoms on some of them, so they have to try one of each. Joe doesn’t sound very impressed.

Bethy brings up her mix of banana foster cupcake with mascarpone cream cheese frosting, raspberry limeade cupcake with lime butter cream frosting, and an almond chocolate cupcake with hazelnut liqueur topping. Gordon says they’re visually stunning. He likes the bananas foster one, and we don’t’ get to hear any more before Jessie is called up. Her cupcakes are very small. She interviewed earlier that she let Joe intimidate her into second guessing herself. Her offerings are a vanilla bean cupcake with hazelnut and cream cheese frosting, and a chocolate coffee liqueur cupcake with cream cheese frosting. That’s the one Joe tries, and he tells her it’s a bit of a letdown. Graham tries one of the vanilla ones, and shows her that due to the size, they’re very dense. Gordon tells her the chocolate one is dry, and tells her for him, it’s her worst performance in the competition. She may be going home.

Finally, it’s Jordan’s turn. He made vanilla bean cupcakes with “a hint” of basil, and mascarpone frosting with a mini chocolate truffle with cayenne. Gordon tells him he has a surprise for him; they’ve invited a special guest to taste them. I’m not surprised when they call up Luca. Gordon asks him if he’s going home or safe. Luca says he’s 100% safe; they’re delicious. He asks if he can keep the cupcake and tells Jordan “Good job” as he runs back to his station. That’s chivalry.

Gordon also thinks they’re delicious. Sounds like he’ll be this season’s asshole-who-can’t-be-beat. The judges take some time to discuss who’s leaving, and who will be the team captains next time. The first one named is Bime. Wonderful! But they say Bethy’s cupcakes were even better. The three worst are called up:  Malcolm, Kathy, and Jessie. I won’t miss either if it means Jessie stays.

Malcolm is called forward first, but isn’t safe. Kathy’s safe, so now I’m worried, but the only problem they had with hers was the decoration. I just noticed Malcolm has really weird piercings through the tops of his ears. It’s the last I’ll see of them, though, as Gordon sends him home and Jessie back to her station.

Next week, they’ll be serving firefighters, and Krissi loses it. Howard, Bre, and Kathy are who I can see over the pressure test montage, and it sounds like the whole team is sent home, including Luca, James, and Lynn.

Sidenote: I’m having so many browser issues, I finally had to copy the whole thing over into a Word document so I could spell check it, but 45 minutes later, I still can’t publish it. If I live blog next week, I’m just going to do the whole thing in Word to begin with.

Nina Lisa

I should be folding laundry while watching this, but instead I’m going to be live blogging. See the dedication? (Oh, all right, I hate folding laundry. So sue me.)

Yay, it’s time to start! That means I can put it on pause and go dry my hair. BRB.  Now then, where were we? Oh, yeah, opening credits. If I wasn’t so eager to fast-forward past the commercials, I’d be hitting that button through this. Here we go.

Oh, someone’s not there to make friends! Drink! I notice they’re not getting a chyron with their name. I’m going to presume this means they’re going home.

Hey, wait, we’re not done looking for aprons yet? Could’ve sworn we were. Guess that’s next hour. Let’s see how Howard does. He’s nervous as all get out; his voice is really shaking. Interesting flavor combo. Amaretto, too? Not a liqueur I’d picture with blackberries. I bet he’s through, tho. The question is, is Joe going to be an ass again today? Guess not. I never even saw him put that in his pocket. I wonder if he put it there just in case he wanted to pull that.

And here we go with the failure montage. Oh, jeez, the Air Force guy is wearing his technical training school rope. That’s just sad. I remember how proud my ex-fiance was over his; he wore it to his dad’s funeral, even though he’d been out of tech school for a year or so and it’s not authorized past that.

Now, that’s an interesting way to fix lobster. Yeah, I agree with Joe. It’s either going to work or not. There is no try. And it’s time for our first fadeout fake-out, so it’s time for me to pause it again and get dinner going. So, Joe’s willing to accept this bizarre combo as not a trick, where a popular PR dish was? Sigh. Yeah, I’m not forgiving you for that one any time soon, Bastianich.

Oh, Jordan thinks he knows better than the judges, eh? That’s the type of attitude that makes me hope his downfall is imminent.

I have to admit, I’m a fan of lamb. Glad to hear it’s becoming more popular, since it’s difficult to find without going to an ethnic grocery. Bit of trivia for you: Did you know it’s not shepherd’s pie if it’s not made with lamb? Most people make it with beef and still call it that, but it’s actually called cottage pie then. Of course, if you read this blog the last time I made that observation, you did. 🙂

They get to use every part of the lamb, eh? Can anyone say haggis? I know, not enough time. Oh, someone went down! Now Semiyra’s on my hit list, too. I don’t care if it’s a competition, you don’t shove someone so hard they fall. Marcus, you might want to listen to Joe. Cooking with hay? Interesting. Luca’s dish sounds good. I hope it comes out well.

This is the stage where they taste everything, isn’t it? Maybe not, the way they’re talking. Oh, wow, no, they’re going to cut people now. I agree with Krissi and Jessie. This is new, I think. I missed whoever Joe just told to go, so this is one time when I’ll be glad for the replay after the commercials. Hmm. He started elsewhere. I thought they should try James’ dish. Same for Brian. At least he can admit he was out of his league. That was three? Or four? The guy in the red shirt interviewing right now is who I thought Joe eliminated before the break. Geez, this is American Idol grouping. I can’t tell. Oh wait, James, Sasha, and Bime are in the group Gordon’s talking to right now. Surely they’re through? And they are! Yay. I don’t really recognize those being eliminated. I always wonder how producers do these things. Do they interview absolutely everyone and then only use those they know are going through?

There are some of my personal favorites in the tasting round. Bri, Luca. Good job, Malcolm. Good luck. This is the chick who pushed James down. I hope she gets eliminated. But she got a good review from Gordon. And I like her necklace. Ah, I disagree with Joe. You don’t need to put salt in everything. I recognize Malcolm as one of the unnamed talking heads from earlier, but I don’t know what that means, and we’re going to take a break first, of course.

Yes! Right choice. Ah, I just saw Eddie (? I think. The footballer.) in the in crowd. Ah, caramel popcorn lobster guy. And another Brian. His dish sounds really interesting. But I don’t like that kind of BS arrogance he just showed.  And he’s got tears in his eyes. Yeesh. I’ll take Johnny over this guy. Yay! Oh, yeah, Brian is roadkill guy. Glad he’s gone, he got through on a fluke.

C’mon, Bri! I’m concerned, now. It seemed like they really liked Nancy’s dish, and Bri’s a vegetarian, so I don’t know how well she cooked the meat, and it’s possible she tried too hard with all those sauces. It looked like it was medium-rare, which is a good choice for lamb, I believe. Woohoo! Right choice again, guys. One more to go. Luca! Luca! Luca! No 80s earworms here!

Again, it looks cooked to the right temp. Ah, this is the hay girl. Wait, lavender, mint, and apricot chutney? And rhubarb? Gag. I’m afraid the innovation will win her through, though. Oh, I agree with Graham, that would’ve been a nice finishing touch. And they both had sweetbreads. Here we go. Fingers crossed! Ok, talking heads analysis. Beth is wearing the same outfit, and technically, so is Luca, with the addition of his suit jacket. I’m worried, but I think he’s going through. I hope. Time to stop typing, unpause, and cross my fingers again.

Of course! I should’ve seen the dramatic commercial break coming. Time to fill up my glass with water and orange MiO, then. Wow, she made it. Wait a minute. Talking head? Gordon giving a lengthy good-bye speech? Keeping the fingers crossed . . . Yes! He made it. OK, looks like Pastor Kevin didn’t make it. Not super surprised. And Jessie did. Good. Hah! I love how Johnny’s carrying Luca off over his shoulder!

Now I’m laughing at myself. I was so involved in that, I forgot there’s another hour left! And people are copping stank attitudes straight off, I see. Hope they don’t get far. Bethy, huh? Don’t recall her before. Maybe she doesn’t last long. Not really liking Krissi. So far, I know the ones I like: Sasha, Jessie, Bri, Luca, Bime. Some may fall in my esteem, some may not. We’ll see. Ah, I forgot the footballer. Sorry, dude. And here it is time for the first a la Chopped challenge. I could see the tomato and bacon going on a baked potato. I can see bacon and a chocolate reduction. But I can’t really see it going with the other two. And I hear Gordon agrees with me. But instead of a balsamic infused whatever he just said, I’d put some balsamic in my chocolate reduction to drizzle over the potato dish. Except I’d want it to be a chocolate-infused balsamic vinegar so it’s less chocolate and more balsamic.

Yeah, I don’t think Johnny’s idea is going to cut it. Savannah’s dish sounds good. Not sure about Howard. That sounds risky. Natasha’s dish sounds good. Ah, now I see why she and Krissi are at odds. I kinda agree with her about Krissi, at least. Don’t know about Kathy. I do wish we could see the judges sampling. Don’t knock chocolate-covered bacon until you try it, Gordon.

Geez, Joe, what the hell do you have against Bime? You took Johnny’s trick, so cut out the fakery bullshit with Bime.

Yeah, I thought Natasha’s dish was going through. But she does have a bit of an attitude. I’ve seen worse, though. Hmm, Gordon has a point about the technique. OK, Joe, don’t give her any more of a swelled head than she has already. Ha! Having Krissi called up should help. Yes, anyone can do a frittata, but shut up Natasha. I hope Bime wins. Then they can both suck it. Ah, well. Now I can agree with Krissi.

I think Gordon might’ve talked her into the ingredient. Oh, cheese? She might not be able to cook with that. Ah, that’s why she was trash-talking Krissi from the balcony, she doesn’t have to. I’m betting it’s the cheese. But she wasn’t alone up there. Yep, I thought so. She gets to pick someone to join her. I’m pretty sure it’s a girl. I see Jordan made it through. Hope he goes home soon. She picked Savannah, huh? I bet it’s because she thinks she can cook better. Yep. Ah, she chose the langoustine. Interesting. I can’t remember if langoustine is a common sub for lobster tail or not. I seem to recall it is; or at least that’s why I bought it once, long ago and far away. As I recall, it wasn’t a viable substitute for eating with just melted butter. I’d want to actually *do* something with it.

Joe, quit picking on my favorites! Lobster mac ‘n’ cheese? Oooh-kay. And now Gordon’s interviewing Howard. Shut up, Krissi. Damn, I’ve used up my fast forwards, and now I have to suffer through ads for that horrible Andy Samberg show I won’t be watching this fall.

And now Natasha’s trash-talking Kathy, but it sounded like Kathy started it. Oh, Sasha’s dish actually sounds good. I notice Jordan’s not getting after her for doing Southern the way he did Luca for doing Italian. Let’s add Howard and Malcolm to my list of ones I like. I’m sorry to hear Graham praising Jordan.    I don’t even recognize that Asian guy in the plaid shirt they keep cutting to. I wonder if he’ll be going home soon. Hmm, are they tasting them all or a top three and bottom three again.

Yeah, Joe, you can take an instant dislike to someone. I don’t care for Krissi or Natasha right now. Ah, damn. Jordan’s a good cook. Guess we’ll have to put up with him this season the way we had to put up with fisher dude a season or two ago. I have to agree with Gordon about Howard’s dish. But not Joe. Oh, dear. I can only hope someone (not Eddie, Bri, Sasha, Bime, Jessie, Malcolm, or Luca) does worse.

Another commercial break I can’t fast forward through. Guess I’ll start folding laundry. Sigh.

Oh, dear, Luca’s in trouble too. Well, Lynn’s dish sounds good (formerly nameless Asian guy in the plaid shirt). Sounds like Kathy’s in trouble, too. Good. C’mon, Sasha!  Oh, dear, all my favorites are sinking, it seems. Jessie’s next. Yay! She did a good job. Whew. Natasha makes a bitch face. Jordan’s smack-talking Malcolm. Oh, jeez. I think one of my favorites will be going home.

And Jordan gets complimented. Ugh. Yay, Jessie! Yep, Howard’s in trouble, and now I hate Krissi even more. And Malcolm’s in trouble, too. Yikes. Sounds like Sasha’s next, but we’re doing the dramatic commercial break.

Argh! It is Sasha. Well, she’s the only one I really don’t want to go home. But she does. Wow. Howard made two bad dishes in  a row; I thought for sure he was gone. But I disagree with her about Krissi. Who appears to be from Jersey, judging by the previews.

Well, now I have to finish folding laundry. Catch y’all next time.

Nina Lisa

Wow, don’t they usually have more auditions than this? But they’re cutting it down to 19 tonight. I may be able to live blog it. Right now, if I do this right, I should be able to pause the video and comment on here, and while normally I’d just take notes, or sum it all up at the end, 1) I’m out of paper and 2) I have to cast aspersions on Joe right now. Have you been to Puerto Rico, Joe? Because as soon as I saw what Bime was cooking up, I said, “That’s it! There’s the dish that I had (at the top-rated restaurant in San-Juan) that was so good but I couldn’t remember the name of! Now I can look up the recipe on the internet!” But Joe called it a fake shrimp scampi with some plantains thrown in. Usually I respect his opinion almost more than Gordon’s, but right now I want to smack him.

Why is Joe being such an ass today? I feel sorry for Jessie. Wonder what Gordon’s doing? Ah, knife skills are pretty important. They got rid of a contestant on Top Chef because he couldn’t butcher. Dang, I think she just did that faster than he did. WTG, girl!

Note to contestants: If you have to make a showy entrance, you can’t cook and shouldn’t have bothered to try out. I feel bad for the better cooks who didn’t get a chance to be in the Top 100 because the producers wanted to put these idiots on instead. Well, the magician’s getting a chance, and on a dessert, no less. Good thing he didn’t try to be on The Taste.

Ah, the no apron fadeout/fake-out. Of course he got one. Maybe Joe just doesn’t like long-haired guys? And Gordon, just because someone doesn’t swear like a truck driver doesn’t mean they’re a delicate flower. The guy put off his wedding to follow his passion. Maybe a lot was edited out, because I really don’t see how they can think this guy’s going to crack as much as they do. Passion doesn’t have to be violently or over exuberantly expressed, y’all.

And, another montage of idiots whom I wish had not taken up spots in the Top 100. This type of thing is why I’m disappointed tonight’s show is supposed to jump to the top 19.

Oh, I like Sasha! She is the definition of fierce! I hope she makes it.  Excellent. Three yeses. Well, it’s a shame about Rudy. I thought with the cut to commercial before Gordon’s vote meant I was wrong about him saying no, but no such luck. And watching a video sans commercials makes the replay of what happened just before the commercials even more annoying. I blame the short attention spans everyone seems to have these days.

See, the type of passion Eddie displays is the quiet type. They’re not giving him a hard time.

I don’t recall Luca from last year, but now that I’ve seen the replay, I hope he lives up to expectations. Oh, good. Because the way he described how he made the broccoli rabe filling sounded really good. I think he’ll go far. Looking forward to tonight’s episode.

Nina Lisa

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