‘MasterChef’ Recap: Season 5 Top 8 Compete

Last night on MasterChef the top eight faced what may have been one of their most difficult challenges that led to a pressure test of extreme stress.

For the team challenge of the week, the chefs would be put into pairs but not by the judges yet themselves. For once they were allowed to choose their own partner that led to some interesting teams. First Elizabeth was the cool kid as she was surrounded with people wanting to be her partner but Leslie won the golden ticket when he said, “I’ll do whatever you want.” Sold.

Willie paired up with Cutter, Daniel with Jaimee and Courtney with Christian. Courtney and Christian legitimately surprised me as the two are easily some of the best chefs left but they have always been in stiff competition with each other. Next Chef Ramsey showed the teams how to break down a raw chicken and highlighted four pieces of the meat: the breast, wings, legs and oysters.

The teams were sent into the pantry to grab one box each as each box has one piece of the chicken and then they were to shop for what to use to help create a beautiful meal. Once they were sent inside they realized their boxes are locked and so they would be shopping blind and needed to grab ingredients that are universal.

image courtesy of Dara Kushner/INFphoto.com

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Back at their cooking stations they found the key to the box waiting for them. Leslie and Elizabeth wound up with the oysters while Willie and Cutter got the cut everyone wanted, the chicken breast. Jaimee and Daniel got the one piece they feared which was the chicken wings and Courtney and Christian got the legs.

With the forty-five minutes provided to cook, Leslie and Elizabeth served curried chicken oysters with roasted carrots and it was fantastic. Leslie made the right decision following Elizabeth to the end. Jaimee and Daniel came up with chicken wings with fingerling potatoes and carrots that while they were good, the judges expected more at this point in the competition.

Willie and Cutter presented a roasted chicken breast with rooted vegetables and asparagus that almost made the judges mad as they had the prized cut and the judges felt they wasted it. Finally Courtney and Christian cooked a braised leg and thigh with beans, brussel sprouts and tomatoes. While Ramsey was not happy about the brussel sprouts and tomatoes combination, the dish came out good enough.

After the judge’s consideration, they chose Leslie and Elizabeth as the top dish making them safe from elimination and the pressure test. Courtney and Christian were also saved leaving the remaining fourth to enter the pressure tests.

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Yes, pressure tests. There will be three rounds and at the end of each round the judges choose one chef to save until it’s down to two and they choose someone to send home. The first test was the perfect poached egg and they only get one chance at it. Some chefs had funny tricks like Willie’s where he sings ‘Amazing Grace’ three times in his head and he then has a perfect poached egg. Plus it worked as he was the first chef to be saved as Cutter may have almost won except he broke his egg during plating. Jaimee’s was good too and Daniel failed as it broke in the pot.

The second round was egg yolk ravioli and in a surprising shock it was Cutter who perfected the test. It is always surprising how Cutter’s large hands can still produce excellent tiny items. I think Cutter is always shocked himself.

The final round was between former teammates Jaimee and Daniel for a cheese soufflé. It was awful to watch as both soufflés came out at the same height, same color and both looked fantastic. It really came down to taste and with Jaimee’s extra baking experience, it was bittersweet to have her saved as Daniel was sent home.

When asked what Daniel was going to do next, his future seemed bright. He hopes to open a small bar with great beer on tap where he can cook great plates of food and also have awesome Japanese video games for people to play.

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