Thursday, July 11, 2013

MasterChef Season 4, Episodes 12 and 13 - Surf's Up, Dude

This week's episode began with a mystery box challenge featuring Eva Longoria. The beautiful actress is not only proficient on screen, she is also a successful restauranteur and was in the Master Chef kitchen to introduce ingredients she had hand picked for the challenge.

The home chefs were tasked with preparing a stunning dish using all or some of the following ingredients: Pork tenderloin, fresh shrimp, corn, avocado, onions, tomato, mangoes, Mexican chocolate, a variety of peppers, tomatillo, hot sauce, crema Mexicano, and garlic.

During the challenge a few front runners began to emerge. Eddie did a chili rubbed tenderloin over a bed of creamed corn, Savannah did a spice crusted pork tenderloin in the style of Mexican street food, James did a roasted corn and shrimp ceviche, and Bri did a corn salad with cilantro grilled shrimp.

Note to self. Do not watch MasterChef when hungry. I want a taco so bad right now I could eat my arm off.

The Elimination Round

In the meantime, the lucky judges got to taste all that deliciousness and chose Bri, Eddie, and Savannah as having the three best dishes. In the end - much to the chagrin of Natasha - resident vegetarian Bri took the win giving her an advantage going into the elimination round. Today she got to choose from two baskets the cooks would be creating dishes from. The majority would get ingredients to make a dessert in one hour and one would get a premium steak with sweet potatoes and assorted vegetables - the catch being that person would only have twenty minutes to cook their dish.

And that person was Natasha - who despite the time constraint did a good job making pan seared steak with a brown sugar rub, sweet potato fries, and three dips.

This wasn't the case for Lynn, who Chef Ramsay referred to as "The King of Plating." Today, the king fell hard from his throne. Though Lynn has proven himself to be an amazing cook, I have to wonder if he'd just had enough because he didn't seem that sad over the prospect of leaving.

We'll never know I guess, but as one side of the "Jesslynn" duo triumphed (Jessie won another elimination challenge), in a close race with Krissi who made muffins with strawberry gelatin, Lynn was sent home.

Surf's Up! The Team Challenge

The Team Challenge began on Huntington Beach in Surf City USA with Gordon and Joe racing toward the contestants on seadoos and Graham swimming to shore in a wet suit disguised as a speedo. Don't ask.

As the elimination challenge winner, Jessie received another advantage - not only would she be picking her own team, she would be choosing the opposing team. In essence she was given her pick of all the remaining cooks to put together a "dream team" and chose James, Natasha, Eddie, and Bethy. She was also responsible for choosing a team captain for the red team. That person was Savannah who's team was comprised of Luca, Bri, Krissi, and Jordan.

The task: to come up with a delicious fish taco and serve two a piece to 101 surfers.

As it all got going the blue team decided on a mahi mahi taco and the red, cod. Undecided on whether to grill the cod or deep fry it, Savannah put Krissi in charge of deep frying the fish - and even though it looked absolutely delicious and perfectly crispy when it came out of the fryer, the team decided to go with grilling because Krissi put hot sauce in the batter.

To my mind, this was a bad decision. It's at least 12 hours since I watched the show and I'm still salivating over that fish. All they had to do was cut back on the hot sauce and those light crispy morsels of heaven would have gone great with the coleslaw and cilantro lime sauce Jordan made.

Sure enough, the blue team came out with a vengeance and their Mahi Mahi tacos with spicy pineapple sauce annihilated the red. But it was what came after that I want to talk about.

Are You Ready to Rumble? 

As the losing team, Savannah was asked to name the weakest performer and when she said "Krissi" I was ticked - especially when Bri chimed in and agreed with her. If they had have gone with Krissi's deep fried fish I believe they might have won the challenge - or at the very least come a little closer - so when the team was asked to go into the wine room and make a unanimous decision over who would be safe in this challenge, I knew sparks were going to fly.

Although her language was far more blue than red, I knew why Krissi was feeling frustrated. From day one in MasterChef she has been looked down on, picked last, and completely undervalued for the excellent cook she is. And though I've seen many people in social media accusing her of being a bully this season, I believe the opposite is true. She has been the vicitm of bullying since the first day they chose teams and picked her last.

I don't care how old you are or where you come from, getting picked last hurts and to do it over and over again to someone, whether you like them or not, is lousy.

And equally lousy was for Bri to jump in and be all sanctimonious. Throughout the challenge I saw Krissi being agreeable and going along with the team - so to be thrown under the bus not just by Savannah but by Bri, again was just lousy. Dude.

The Pressure Test

Jordan was sent to safety and the rest of the team were tasked with cooking chicken three different ways: Sauteed, fried, and stuffed.

And here's what I need to know... while Bri prepped her station she said she's never cooked chicken before. This is the same cook who had also never poached an egg prior to MasterChef. So somebody please tell me - how on earth did she get onto the show? 

All I can figure is that she must make some pretty incredible meatless dishes because her skills with chicken were certainly lacking - and as a person who always roots for the underdog, I am not embarrassed to tell you that I cheered out loud when the judges cut into Krissi's perfectly fried chicken.

I am equally unembarrassed to share that I did a tiny little happy dance when Bri and her raw chicken were almost sent home.

In the end, though, Savannah was also challenged with raw chicken and it was her week to go.

Onward to next week!

But first, here's another amazing recipe for chicken! Bacon and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Bundles


Learn how to create magic in your own gardens and kitchens using everyday ingredients, minimal gadgets, and very little fancy equipment. It’s easier than you think with tips and tricks from the Kitchen Witch!

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

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