This weeks episode of MasterChef started out full of laughter and fun but ended with me getting choked up due to the pressure test from hell.
As the episode began it appeared to be its usual run of the mill format starting with a team challenge. The top 10 would be split into two teams of five with Jaimee and Courtney as the team captains due to their spectacular performance the week before. The challenge is to cook and serve concessions for a friendly game of football and who better than NFL All Star Eric Dickerson to get everyone super pumped. Dickerson stopped by to explain the NFL Play 60 initiative where they are encouraging everyone to be active for sixty minutes a day.
Jaimee and Courtney were ready to pick their teams until the judges informed them that they actually would not be doing so as instead Jaimee would be picking Courtney’s team and vice versa. No one was really thrilled with this. Jaimee got to choose first and crafted Courtney’s team to be Leslie, Christian, Ahran and Victoria. Courtney returned the favor by giving Jaimee Cutter, Willie, Elizabeth and Daniel. The menu could not be simpler as each team is to prepare turkey burgers and fish tacos for the spectators.
Each spectator will choose either the tacos or burger and take from both teams and the team with the most votes does not enter the pressure test. A normal challenge. Jaimee first gives an idea of a turkey burger with cole slaw on it and no one is ready to back that idea and so she is overthrown into a menu of turkey burger with arugula and thousand island sauce and fish taco with corn slaw and cream sauce. Willie asks Jaimee to tell them if she disagrees with the menu and her attempt to do so comes out as a ‘you’re not going to listen to me anyway’ feasible complaint that goes nowhere.
image courtesy of Dara Kushner/INFphoto.com
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Courtney and her team bounce off to a phenomenal start with a guacamole and Muenster cheeseburger and fish tacos with cilantro and lime cream sauce. Naturally there are bumps in the road such as Christian’s wet turkey burger combination that is solved by using a flat top for cooking and Jaimee’s mini breakdown about her lack of leadership yet everyone comes behind to help her get through it. Just from watching the challenge it would seem the blue team had this in the bag – they had their food together, prep was great and they never missed a customer yet in a complete shock the red team won the challenge with 51% of the votes.
So Courtney, Christian, Leslie, Ahran and Victoria would be entering the pressure test. I had high hopes for their success but paled at the idea of at least four of my favorites (and you can guess who isn’t) being one to be eliminated. The explanation of the pressure test came simple as well except first Courtney was given the opportunity to save herself, which of course; she does as she felt her leadership was enough. Secondly the judges choose to save Christian for his incredible work on the turkey burgers because not only did he save the meat, he delivered flawless food from the first to the last one. This leaves Ahran, Leslie and Victoria alone to battle in what becomes the pressure test of hell.
First Chef Joe explains that he wants prawn ceviche but that isn’t good enough for Chef Gordon as he wants prawn tempura yet Chef Ramsey wants butterfly stuffed prawn. Did I forget to mention the prawns are still alive and kicking? Plus which meal did the chefs end up having to cook? All three. Three dishes in sixty minutes, which earns this the title of the pressure test of hell.
Also, two people are being sent home. That was when my stomach dropped and so did everyone else’s. In those sixty minutes all three chefs attempted to remain positive but Ahran could not help but release a few tears of stress, feeling the pressure as the youngest in the competition. The time came and went and all three got to present their dishes as each chef tasted each dish that they requested.
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For Leslie, the judges said he had the perfect texture for the ceviche, his shrimp was good even though the tempura was light, and his prawns were cooked lovely but the sauce was concerning. For Ahran there was too much liquid but great use of chilies in her ceviche, she had rich and cooked well tempura shrimp, and her prawns were cooked beautifully but needed salt badly. Then for Victoria the onion overpowered the sweetness of the prawn in her ceviche, her tempura was better than other two, and what sank her was that her shrimp prawns were raw.
In general no one really failed but no one truly shined either. It was difficult. The first to be eliminated was Victoria and I am so disappointed as I had hoped she would have lasted longer. In my opinion she is an incredibly talented chef and this pressure test was set to failure. This was her first pressure test and she got stuck with three dishes, it just sucked. Next Leslie and Ahran, the oldest and the youngest, stood side by side as the judges asked Leslie what he has thought of this experience. It was incredibly touching as he was moved to tears but what got me choked up was confronting his past issues with Ahran by saying, “and to work out my differences with this young lady; she’s not a girl, she’s a young lady,” reflecting on how the two have grown out of their feuds. It took a long time but Leslie finally accepted Ahran as an equal rather than an immature teenager.
That is why it made it so much harder when Ahran was announced as the second elimination making Leslie the sole chef to live through his fifth pressure test. So Ahran is heading back to high school to finish her senior year while Leslie remains to compete against the seven remaining chefs. But before she left, Ahran was asked who would win MasterChef and in a true full circle she stated, “Leslie.”
The top eight remain to be Courtney, Willie, Daniel, Jaimee, Elizabeth, Cutter, Christian and Leslie.