'MasterChef' season 5, episode 3 recap: Top 20 Compete

Last night’s episode of MasterChef featured the largest team challenge in the shows history which led to interesting results. The show first opened with the twenty contestants walking through the desert awaiting their first team challenge. Suddenly sandstorms start as helicopters and large trucks come towards the cooks and once parked, is revealed to have the three judges inside.

It is the typical dramatic entrance the cooking show is used to so it should not be a shock to anyone that Gordon, Joe and Graham were behind the whole thing. But, let us move on. It is then that the judges inform the chefs of their challenge for the day – cooking for 500 US Army Soldiers. Their setting is US Army Base Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert and the mission is simple, split into two teams and make the soldiers proud.

Ramsey reminds the chefs that since Francis B. won the last challenge in the prior episode, he is automatically made Team Captain of the Red Team and gets his pick at the 9 chefs he wants to work with.

Francis is the combination of honored and embarrassed as he wishes he had more time to make his decision but like everything, time is of the essence. Rapidly he forms his team with the elite: Willie, Cutter, Francis L, Tyler, Victoria, Christine, Elizabeth, Ahran and Kira. Those leftover: Christian, Courtney, Dan, Elise, Gordon, Jaimee, Jordan, Leslie, Stephani and Daniel become the Blue Team. With little time, they must choose a leader of their own and after some not so subtle glances, Daniel steps forward for the job.

As the teams are transported to their live outdoor kitchens, the judges give them more information. The teams must choose between three meats to serve: chicken, beef or pork chops and create a side for the meat and a sauce. They will have two hours to prepare the food and an additional two to serve all 500 soldiers, as they will taste from each team. After everyone finishes eating, the soldiers will choose their favorite plate and whichever team gets more, wins and thus avoids the pressure test. You may think to yourself, “Psh I could do that” but as Cutter later tells us, “You don’t think you know 500 people until you see 500 people.”

Automatically the Red Team chooses to make pork chops with an apple chutney and a side dish of macaroni and cheese with bacon drizzled on top. Does that sound delicious? Can I be a taste tester? I volunteer as tribute! (Wrong show sorry)

The Blue Team takes a little while longer to get going as everyone is shouting, “Chicken, yes lets do chicken!” except for Leslie who defends that beef is the way to go (but no one hears him so did he really say anything? It’s one of those tree falling in the woods but no one is around to hear it scenarios). In the end they choose to makes a BBQ chicken with potato salad, the All American choice they call it.

The cooking gets started with its usual problems: first Stephani is cooking raw chicken which Leslie attempts to tell her but she avoids it until Ramsey comes over and yells his usual bit until she goes, ‘Yeah I guess it was raw.’ On the Red side the macaroni and cheese does not mix well together and more looks like macaroni and clump so instead of any attempt to fix it, they decide to scratch it entirely and make a coleslaw.

The soldiers arrive and the blue team is ready to serve but the red tapers off as they go due to the thickness of the pork chop and how long it takes to cook. Wouldn’t Cutter have mentioned something about how imperative it is to find a quicker way to cook the meat considering he knows how hungry and deserving the soldiers can be considering he has been on the other side himself? The team had an insider to their advantage and clearly did not take any advantage of any intel he may have had to share. But that’s just my opinion.

Plus did I mention in an attempt to get meat out quicker, they started handing out raw pork chops? And I am not talking a hint of pink raw but it just came off the animal and a Gordon Ramsey deserving, “IT’S RAW!” scream. It truly seemed like the end for the victory team as blue never failed to get plates to the soldiers. The red team had to rework quickly and ended up missing some of their customers due to unpreparedness.
Yet did it all really matter? The soldiers, who got the pork chops, swore by them. After everyone ate it was time to vote and by a landslide of 329 plates/votes, the red team won as people flocked to their side of the field.

This left the blue team, who did everything right after their initial mess up, to go into the pressure test. Leslie continues to swear that if they had gone with beef, they would have won. Hopefully someone will listen to Leslie one day as wisdom comes with age and he is the oldest in the entire competition. Listen to the stay at home dad; I mean he cooks for children for a living. He knows what people like.

The next day we are back in the MasterChef Kitchen where the judges announce that Daniel, the team captain, now gets to choose three members of his own team to save from elimination and send upstairs to join the other ten contestants. While he had the option to save himself, which who cares if it looks selfish, should have done, he chooses to spare Dan, Christian and Gordon. Daniel took the “go down with my ship” route which later turns to be his largest mistake, one he surely wont make again following this test.

And what was the pressure test that would cause a good-looking guy to quiver in the knees? Blueberry Pie. Immediately, Jaimee, the baker who has a blueberry pie tattooed on her neck and Elise, another baker, sigh in relief. This one is in the bag for the two of them. And the seven contestants only have seven minutes to do so.
I will spare you all the pie-ful stories and let you know that Daniel was in deep trouble with this pie. After making two different crusts, he only get his pie in the oven with maybe a little over a half hour to go to bake. A typical pie needs at least 45 to 50 minutes to be successful.

There were some heroes who restored faith in the judges on the state of their dessert skills: Jaimee, Leslie and Courtney (now who is surprised? I was not). Then there was Brandon, who had a pie that was ‘slightly sloppy’ and Daniels that while it appears unappetizing, the filling somehow came out delicious. Gordon Ramsey was in shock how that could even happen but maybe Daniel has a secret talent for fillings. Anything is possible with this show. And then the two catastrophically awful losers went to Elise and Stephani. The only difference between these two chefs is that one is a baker and one has never made a pie in her life.

When it came down to it, while the third pie was not the charm for Elise, she survived just through the crack and lived to see another episode as Stephani was sent home. Elise is currently praying she never has to cook another pie in her entire MasterChef career if not her entire life. It might be time for a change of specialty.

Next week the chefs get to play with their food as it comes fresh and by fresh, I mean it is still alive when it hits the table. And a surprise elimination will shock all of us. If it really does, we shall see.

Tune in next week for another appetizing and drama filled episode.

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