'MasterChef' recap: Top 12 Compete

It was a team challenge that felt extremely close to home this week on MasterChef as the top 12 home cooks were split into teams of size to prepare a romantic dinner for the happy couples that would be dining in the MasterChef restaurant.

The way it works is each couple will receive each plate that will consist of one entrée and one dessert. Together the couple then choose who they wish to vote for as one table is one vote. In the end the team with the least votes will then enter the pressure test. As noted from last time, the team captains were chosen to be Elizabeth and Ahran.

Elizabeth as captain of the blue team chose a team of “rock stars” with Francis, Jaimee, Victoria, Courtney and Daniel. Ahran chose her own team as captain of the red with Leslie, Cutter, Christian, Christine and Willie.

With the teams assembled they got to choose from a selection of proteins for the entrée: filet mignon, striped bass fish, lobster and rack of lamb. For dessert the chefs were free to use a pantry to create a delicious treat. The teams will have one hour to prepare the entrée and then a second hour for dessert. After the end of each hour servers will enter the kitchen to bring the plates to the guests.

But wait, where’s the twist? Mrs. Ramsey. Gordon Ramsey’s wife walks into the kitchen, looking like a knockout, as Chef Ramsey announces him and his wife will also be enjoying the meal tonight and voting on their favorite dish. Ramsey wishes the teams luck and then heads out with his wife to the dining room.

image courtesy of Dara Kushner/INFphoto.com

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The red team decided to work with the lobster and create a lobster risotto with cooked lobster on top for their entrée while the blue team chose a filet mignon for their dish. As both teams cooked their entrées they seemed to both be in good shape minus the need for a dash more salt in the lobster from Ahran. Yet when it began time for the blue team to do a test plate, Victoria and Elizabeth found the meat to be a lot pinker than intended. The blue team ended up throwing all of the meat into the ovens in hopes that would help but it did not truly do much for them.

At the end of the hour, both teams had all of their plates ready to be served and the servers came in and whisked them away before you could blink. Victoria had a brief moment of panic as she knew the steaks were going out too raw but just hoped for the best as the chefs had to start work on the dessert. A survey of tables showed mixed opinions on each plate as for one couple, which was celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary, the man liked the steak and his wife enjoyed the lobster. For some raw was too raw for them and it appeared the blue team was in trouble.

For dessert, the red team went with a raspberry chocolate tiramisu and the blue went for a salted caramel chocolate cake. Ahran’s vision for the tiramisu did not exactly come to life as she would have liked and it seemed her team was not going to finish, or at least Leslie freaked out like they were not going to, but they got it done.

Yet perhaps the most memorable moment of this episode was the wedding proposal between a couple celebrating their third year together, which was kicked off by Chef Joe (She said yes by the way). Following the service, it was revealed that the blue team won by a landslide. Talk about relief for Victoria and also pure happiness for Daniel, as this is the first winning team he has been on for a team challenge.

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For the losing team, it means a pressure box of true evil as the six cooks had to create nine beautiful chocolate truffles of three different flavors. I do not think there was one chef who had ever done this before. Cutter for sure had never done so as he told the chefs, “Of course I’ve never done this before.” Sorry Cutter.

Or, maybe not. Cutter is the first one to be judged and the judges were blown away. In a good way. I swear. I am not making this up. Cutter’s chocolates looked phenomenal and actually came out incredible. All three judges were impressed. Ahran and Christian’s are okay, there is technically nothing wrong with them – they could just be better. Willie’s chocolates face major disappointment due to the amount of sprinkles on his chocolate as it overshadows the truffle.

The real losers of the night were Christine and Leslie as Leslie’s looked absolutely awful. Just nasty. Christine’s were incredibly too bitter for a truffle. It could have been either of them going home.

The judges choose Cutter as the winner for the night (“Say what?!”) and brings his chocolates up to the balcony to share his chocolate with everyone else where he earns numerous claps on the back. Yeah, Cutter is back! Maybe he won’t mouth off anymore (We can dream alright?). Then Ahran, Willie and Christian are saved leaving the Christine and Leslie standing by themselves.

Now while I desperately wanted Leslie to go home (and you are lying if you say you don’t agree), I knew he wouldn’t be. Why? This was his fourth pressure test and the judges’ marvel at how he usually excels in these challenges. Christine has not been in as many. So with a complete shock to everyone it was Christine who was sent packing and asked to take off her apron. Everyone felt the surprise as Ahran was crying in the balcony when Christine predicted her to be the future winner.

Now I never thought Christine would win, but I did not expect Leslie to be the one to knock her out. Keep cooking Christine.

The top 11 remain as they compete next week for a spot in the coveted Top 10.

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