MASTER CHEF “Top 3 Compete; Winner Revealed” Review August 17, 2011 Masterchef, Reviews MASTERCHEF “Top 3 Compete; Winner Revealed” Season 2, Episode 19 – Season two of MasterChef wrapped up in a two hour finale that showcased the top tier of MasterChef home cooks in the final round of competition. I was completely blown away by the quality of the dishes that were prepared by all three remaining competitors. The final Mystery Box Challenge tied back to the very first Mystery Box Challenge these MasterChef contenders attempted. They were to prepare a stunning dish featuring chicken. Christian – who did not drop his cocky attitude for even a second – presented a bacon wrapped chicken, Jennifer presented a rustic stuffed chicken and Adrien presented a braised chicken thigh with asparagus. Although the concept of Adrien’s dish was rather boring, the judges decided his flavors were the most impressive and he won the advantage for the Elimination Challenge. Based on Chef Bastianich’s favorite ingredients, Adrien had the first choice between veal, mushrooms and octopus as the star ingredient for his dish. All three of these home cooks were playing the MasterChef mind game as much as they were purely presenting their abilities. Adrien chose the octopus in a risky move that he hoped would put Christian at a disadvantage. Christian selected veal hoping that Jennifer would be stumped by mushrooms. Of course, Christian had no idea that Jennifer grew up with mushroom farms practically in her back yard and was essentially a “mushroom queen.” Adrien’s pan seared octopus dish was absolutely stunning. I don’t even like octopus, but that dish looked so appealing on screen that I’d be willing to give it a shot. Of all the remaining contestants, Adrien’s plating skills have improved significantly and every single dish he presented to the judges looked like an incredibly delicious work of art. Jennifer presented a challenging mushroom and egg ravioli that wasn’t too impressive on screen, but the moment Chef Ramsay cut into that pasta and broke the yolk, my mouth watered. Typical of Christian, he accepted no criticism about the flawed presentation of his veal dish, and I think ultimately his pride will be what prevents him from reaching the levels of greatness that his talent would otherwise allow. Although Christian’s dish had great flavors, his concept was unrefined compared to the competition and he was rightfully chopped from this round of MasterChef. I had been hoping that he’d get cut before the final two and I was thrilled that Jennifer was able to definitively “slay the dragon” with her risky dish. After 32 challenges and 97 eliminated contestants, Jennifer and Adrien made it to the final round of the MasterChef competition. At this point, the voice over narration, manufactured drama, and sappy sentimentality went into overdrive and I was frustrated by the jarring change in pacing. I was really into the competition, and this extended pause to recap and cry about stuff got old really fast. As it has been all season, this extra fluff is an unnecessary ornament that only serves to distract from an otherwise stellar reality competition. Once all that was out of the way, the final round of the MasterChef competition took off running. Jennifer took a more traditional route with her menu and chose challenging ingredients that would showcase her technical abilities. Her dishes were not the most creative, but they were difficult to pull off and, as the judges pointed out, they are staples in many fine dining establishments. Jennifer made a few minor errors, but overall her dishes impressed the judges. Adrien took a much more creative route with his final three dishes. His dishes were all signature dishes that were unique to his style of cooking. I was impressed with his ability to think outside of the box for his menu choices and I appreciated his confidence in the unusual flavors he was putting together. His dishes were also very well received by the judges and after they had discussed both presentations it was difficult to tell if they were leaning towards Jennifer’s dishes or Adrien’s dishes. After the judges’ deliberations, Jennifer and Adrien stood in front of their families and former competition to hear the final verdict. Continuing the MasterChef habit of forced awkward dramatics, we were forced to sit through about a minute of melodramatic edits and music that would made the dramatic chipmunk seem understated. Eventually, Chef Ramsay got around to crowning Jennifer the winner of the Season 2 MasterChef title, and she walked away with a well deserved $250,000 grand prize. Although he didn’t come out on top, the competition was very close and Adrien should be proud of his performance in these final rounds. This was a great group of competitors and I’ll miss Chef Bastianich’s cold stare, Chef Ramsay’s exasperated “damn,” and the way Chef Elliot looked for a little ray of sunshine in even the most terrible dishes. I’ll be looking forward to their return on the next season of MasterChef.