MASTERCHEF “Top 15 Compete” Season 2, Episode 7 – This week’s MasterChef Mystery Box challenge raised some questions for me when Chef Ramsay kept insisting that they would only be tasting the “top three” dishes. He didn’t specifically define the criteria for selecting those top three, so I wasn’t sure if that meant that someone behind the scenes had gone around and tasted all the dishes to narrow down the top three, or if they were making that decision based on appearance. As they announced their selections, it seemed that the judges had made their choices based on the preparation they had observed in the kitchen and the way the dish had been plated for presentation. I’m not sure I like that method of discerning the “top three,” considering some delicious dishes might have been prepared unconventionally or some beautifully plated dishes might actually taste terrible.
Alejandra’s curried lamb and rice pilaf, Tracy’s lamb with sweet and salty feta and Adrien’s farmer’s market style lamb all looked very appealing on screen and the judges seemed to agree across the board that these were the best plates in the MasterChef Mystery Box challenge. I suppose their method worked out alright tonight but I can’t help but wonder if there might have been another dish among the contestants that was missed because taste wasn’t a factor in determining the top three.
Adrien’s win landed him an advantage in the Elimination Test, but unless it comes with immunity, the “advantage” is a double edged sword. There are higher expectations for a contestant who gets to work with the ingredients of their choosing. Adrien failed to astound with his nut covered chocolate cake, but at least it was presentable. About half the home cooks – including some of the stronger contestants – failed miserably when it came to making a dessert.
The dishes that were in the top tier were simple dishes that were well conceived and presented nicely. Esther’s winning coffee cheesecake was simple, but executed well and impressed the judges despite its basic presentation. Although I’m still not sold on Tracy as a chef, I have to hand it to her for keeping it simple and planning a flour-less cake that would allow her to play with the coffee flavors of the challenge. It was a smart move on her part and she deserved her win in this round.
I was sad to see Alvin get the boot tonight. Undoubtedly his dish was a disaster, but I was really looking forward to seeing him play up to his strengths the way he did in his audition round. I think the Chefs were fair to tell him that he was getting too wrapped up in the chemistry before getting a really solid grasp on the fundamentals. I get the sense that he understands food, but that he got just a little bit too far ahead of himself in this round.
Chef Bastianich described Max’s dish as “one of the most disgusting things I think I’ve ever tasted” and Chef Ramsay compared his “torte du crepe” to a skin graft of his rear. Max stood there, smug and smiling, as the Chefs told him his dish was terrible. It was a joke to him. Sure, the chef judges were particularly dramatic tonight (Chef Ramsay got so frustrated with everyone’s terrible desserts that he began whining like a thirteen year old girl about wanting to give up on the whole MasterChef competition) but had the same evaluation been given to any other contestant, they would have taken the criticism seriously or worse, been in tears.
Most of these contestants see this competition as an opportunity for a more fulfilling life and they are acutely aware of how drastically their lives could change by becoming MasterChef. Max seems to treat MasterChef as an extracurricular activity. If he wins, he’ll happily gloat; but if he loses, he’d likely suggest the whole competition was a farce. Even if he is an incredibly talented cook, having him in the competition against the other people who have put all of their hopes and dreams into MasterChef makes me cross my fingers hoping that he’ll be the next to go home.