MasterChef Season 7 Finale Recap

20160921_105825The episode starts with Gordon and Christina going to meet the top 3 cooks in their home environments. First the chefs drop in on Brandi’s 5th grade class in Irvington, Kentucky. She plans to cook upscale southern cooking. Next, they travel to Las Vegas and visit David and his daughter at his home. He wants to overcome his self-doubt and make something that will impress the judges. And finally, they go across town to see Shaun at his house. He wants to go broad with Asian flavors and do some special techniques.\

 

Back in the MasterChef Kitchen the 2 guest judges are Chefs Daniel Boulud and Wolfgang Puck. Previous contestants and family members also arrive to cheer on the three finalists. They will have to create the best three-course dinner of their lives, four plates per course!

Manny says he thinks David will win because his cooking is so precise. Dan says he is on “Team Brandi” because she has got real soul in her food. And Andrea says she thinks Shaun will be the winner because he thinks outside the box and is willing to take risks.

Appetizer

Brandi made a bourbon-braised crispy pork belly glazed with apricot barbeque sauce over a butternut squash-parsnip purée with a rhubard-swiss chard slaw on top. The Pork Belly looks stunning, it tastes good but Daniel and Gordon argue in French about the parsnips and butternut squash mix. Wolfgang and Gordon liked the unique slaw.

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David made beet-cured salmon topped with a soft-boiled egg and a shredded phyllo dough topped with salmon roe and a little dollop of caviar. The egg yolks are cooked beautifully, nice and runny. The Salmon needs more seasoning but still tastes luscious. Wolfgang liked that the dish looked like a bird’s nest but Christina did not think that it was the best looking dish.

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Shaun made a miso halibut cheek with a vadaouvan carrot purée, pickled mushrooms and uni foam. Gordon says it is visually stunning, but tastes nowhere near as good as it looks. The fish is great but the mushroom flavor is too strong! Gordon says you never ever pickle a morel mushroom!

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Entrée

Shaun made coffee-ancho spiced-rubbed venison loin with a plum-venison demi garnished with a balsamic Cipollini onions, some smoked plums, garlic-shallot cream, some truffle and nice beautiful fiddleheads. Gordon says it is visually breathtaking and delicious. The Venison is like butter. All the judges love it.

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Brandi made a cast iron-seared duck breast over andouille mixed greens, with a blackberry demi-glaze, ramp hush puppies and pickled white strawberries. Gordon and Christina disagree about the presentation but the duck is cooked perfectly and tastes delectable. The judges thought the hush puppies were not needed.

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David made savoy cabbage-wrapped guinea hen and a foie gras served with morel and yellow wine cream sauce with sautéed fresh morel mushrooms and Thumbelina carrots. The hen is undercooked! The seasoning and sauce are exceptional. His flavors were very good but his technique was lacking.

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Dessert

Brandi made white cornmeal madeleines with a bourbon caramel sauce, a white chocolate mousse, spiced candied pecans and bourbon glazed peaches. The dessert looks beautiful and the southern flavors are good but the madeleines are not light and fluffy in the center! The cornmeal made them too heavy! Brandi looks heartbroken. 😦

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David made fresh cherries, pitted and stuffed with a cherry compote and then glazed with a white chocolate red glaze, a chocolate crémeux, a Kirsch-Chantilly cream, garnished with a cookie crumble and some gold popping candy. It is visually stunning with complex textures and is full of flavor. But Gordon says don’t glaze, dip and stuff a cherry unless you can make it taste better than it does naturally. Ouch.

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Shaun made a salted caramel dark chocolate tart with a raspberry coulis. It is a simple and elegant dessert. His tart slices nicely and tastes wonderful. He nailed it.

 

20160921_110449The judges discuss all the dishes. They are looking for someone showing passion, technique, creativity and something they haven’t seen before. After weeks and weeks of cooking the next winner of MasterChef is … Shaun.

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Shaun says, “I think I’m done with deejaying. My heart is in food. All of my dreams came true today!”

David says, “Shaun deserved to win. I’m happy for my Vegas brother.”

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And tearful Brandi says, “I’m proud that I’ve shown my students and my kids that they can reach for their dreams that they can get out there and they can do whatever they want. I’m glad that I put myself out there, I’m glad that I took the risk!” (Her son also looks very sad)

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Until next season … keep on cooking!

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MasterChef 07×16&17 Recaps

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The 16th episode starts with the five remaining home cooks walking into the Masterchef Kitchen to meet the next celebrity guest judge, Chef Richard Blais! And then they get to have a touching reunion with their loved ones: Shaun’s mum Karen, Brandi’s son Mikey 🙂 , Dan’s mom Kim, Tanorria’s mom Frankie and David’s daughter Liliana 🙂 .

After the happy tears and hugs and kisses the contestants find out their family member has picked a special ingredient for them to cook with in the next Mystery Box Challenge. When they lift the boxes Brandi finds corn, Shaun finds Parmigiano Reggiano, Dan finds blackberries, David finds cherries, and Tanorria finds peaches.

During the cook time Chef Richard Blais also cooks with them with one of his favorite ingredients, carrots. He makes an amazing smoking pot roast of carrots cooking them six ways! The home cooks are impressed. Then the judges find the three dishes that impress them the most.

The first best dish belongs to Dan. He made a Blackberry Turnover with Blackberry-Mint Salad and Vanilla Whipped Cream. Gordon thinks it looks good, it is super crispy and buttery. Chef Richard says, “I don’t want to stop eating it! Good job!”The next dish belongs to Tanorria. She made a Grilled Peach Shortcake with Peach Caramel Sauce and Peach-Basil Salsa. Christina says the sauce looks tasty, the dessert has good acidity and the biscuit is buttery and flaky. Gordon says, ‘I love the fact that your grilling the peaches, that’s quite ambitious. Well done.”And Chef Richard Blais says the third dish belongs to “the King of Plating” Shaun. He made Egg Yolk and Ricotta Ravioli with Sage Cream Sauce, Fried Sage and Parmesan Crisp. The egg yolk oozes perfectly and ravioli tastes amazing. Gordon says, “If you continue to cook like this Shaun, it’s going to be tough to stop you.”

And the winner is Shaun. He has secured his spot in the top four. When the 4 cooks bring out their own baskets of 20 of their dream ingredients. Then Gordon yells, STOP THE CLOCK! Shaun gets to switch the baskets to anyone he wants!

He gives Tanorria’s shrimp and crab basket to Dan. He gives Brandi’s rack of lamb basket to Tanorria. David’s high end ingredient basket to Brandi. And Dan’s packaged smoke trout goes to David who is mad and says to Shaun, “I’m trying to figure out why you wouldn’t give it to Brandi.”

During the cook time David gets so frustrated with Dan’s basket he throws a fit, tosses his apron on the counter and stomps out of the MasterChef Kitchen! Not being a very good role model for his daughterL. But Gordon chases him and pulls him back in. The judges don’t want him to quit. Shaun says that is not the attitude of a MasterChef Champion

David pulls it together and decides to make a curry. Brandi is making paper thin pasta for ravioli. Tanorria is making a crusted rack of lamb. And Dan is basically taking Tanorria’s idea of a deconstructed jambalaya. Christina is not sure that is very original. And time is up.

David made Smoked Trout Endive Cups with Kohlrabi Greens and Rice. Gordon says some of the elements are cooked well but overall it is “a bad plate from a dysfunctional basket.”

Tanorria made Lamb Chops with Celery Root Puree and Carrot Salad. The lamb chops look beautiful, are cooked well and taste delicious. Christina says, “I get you on this dish for sure!”

 

Brandi made Crab Ravioli with Alfredo Sauce and Crab Salad. Visually the dish is stunning. Chef Richard Blais says it is great pasta. And Gordon says the crab really stands out. “It’s the kind of dish you want the second, the third, the fourth mouthful. Bloody good job!”

Finally, Dan made Deconstructed Jambalaya with Cilantro Rice, Creamed Corn and Shrimp. The shrimp is cooked well and the creamed corn is fine but overall the flavor is underwhelming. Christina says “I wanted more Dan identity on a plate.”

Brandi has the best dish and Dan and David are in the bottom. Both home cooks did poorly with this challenge. The judges decide David is still safe. So, Dan is going home but he keeps his head up. He says he believes Brandi will become the next MasterChef Champion. Exit Montage.

4 home cooks are left.

Episode 17 starts with the top four remaining cooks being split into 2 teams of 2 to cook for 17 professional food critics! Chef Richard Blais says, “We always say in the restaurant, treat every plate likes it’s food critic. Tonight that’s literally the case!”

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Winner from last episode, Brandi chooses to work with Shaun on Blue Team. So, Red Team is Tanorria & David. Brandi & Shaun pick Halibut for their protein while David and Tanorria pick duck.

Gordon is unsure of fish choice and worries about Blue Team’s purple themed dish. “It’s a restaurant full of critics, not a kindergarten.”:o But, Brandi & Shaun are confident about taking risks to impress the food criticsRichard likes Red Team’s idea but is worried about the difficulty of cooking duck right. They get behind on plating and unfortunately all the duck is undercooked!

Time is up and the dishes are served.

Blue Team’s Hazelnut Crusted Halibut with Myer Lemon Beurre Blanc and Asparagus Salad looks “very springy.” Shaun says “those little dots of white and purple puree are probably the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen on a plate.”The critics said: “the halibut was a little overcooked, but I loved the crust”; “it’s actually fancy to the point of prissiness”; “it was done with a hint of the beurre blanc which was done with such restraint that it really enchanted the fish rather than overwhelming it”; “I was impressed they were able to do as well as they did with a fish that stinky”; “the purple-white dollops belong on a nine-year-old’s birthday cake and didn’t make sense.” 😮

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Red Team’s Duck Breast with Ras el Hanout, Brussels Sprout Slaw and Polenta Cake looks vibrant and inviting. Tanorria says, “We put out a beautiful, flavorful, colorful plate. I would absolutely order this off a menu in a fine dining restaurant. Chef Ramsay, stick this on your menu!”The critics said: “I love the fact that the duck was rare and decadent and sexy”; “I feel like I’ve seen a dish like this many times, um, the dish completely lacks soul”; “the duck breasts are seasoned well, the fat was rendered well, my main complaint is that they used a pomegranate sauce on it, which is out of season”; “most flavorful thing on the plate was the polenta cake”; “I felt like I was eating big, slightly under seasoned, hunks of duck.” 😮

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The food critics write their reviews and exit the dining room. Before Gordon reveals the winning team, he make a surprise announcement. For the first time in MasterChef history there will be THREE HOME COOKS IN THE FINALE!The winning cooks are Shaun & Brandi! David is so mad he punches a table! Again. 😦

For the last Pressure Test Tanorria and David will have to cook 3 types of pork: Pork Tenderloin, Pork Belly and Double Cut Pork Chop.

During the cook time Tanorria seems to forget about her tenderloin and cooks the pork too late. David finishes his proteins but does not get many other required ingredients on his plate.

Time is up.

For the Pork Tenderloin Tanorria’s is undercooked while David’s is cooked well. He wins this round.

For the Pork Belly David’s is cooked well but is missing a lot of other components when Tanorria’s has everything on it and is cooked well. She takes the round.

For the Pork Chop both David and Tanorria have ups and downs, but the judges agree that David has the best cook on the pork chop.

Tanorria is going home. 😦  Gordon says he will always remember her Shrimp and Grits dish. 🙂 In her Exit Montage Tanorria says “Coming into this competition I cooked American comfort food. But now I know how to plate a restaurant quality dish with refinement and finesse and beauty. I’ve learned how to build even more flavor which is something I thought I already had. I absolutely plan to pursue my food dream of feeding the homeless. A lot of people spend their entire lives wondering what they’re meant to do on Earth, I know now.”

I liked these episodes because I liked Chef Richard. I think he would do okay as a judge on Masterchef Jr. And I really liked to see Brandi’s son cheering his mother on. I was shocked there is going to be 3 home cooks in the Finale. Can’t wait!

 

 

MasterChef 07 x 14&15 Recaps

20160906_152936The 14th episode starts with the remaining 7 home cooks walking into the MasterChef Kitchen to find out the next Mystery Box Challenge is about using basic utensils. The cooks must make an elegant, high-end restaurant quality dish using just a Cast Iron Skillet, a Wooden Spoon and a Paring Knife! For this challenge they can’t go in the Equipment Room! And Gordon is going take the same challenge and will be cooking with them.

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The cooks get to choose any ingredients they want from the pantry. Tanorria is confident with this challenge because she makes meals out of the back of her car using just a pot and a crockpot. Dan is also feeling confident improvising and uses the shopping cart as a grill. And Brandi is very familiar cooking with cast iron skillets, she has twelve at home!

Time is up and Gordon shows off the two dishes he made, both sweet and savory! Then the judges go around to look closely at each home cook’s dish to pick the top three.

First, Tanorria’s signature Southern Style Crispy Skin Chicken Thigh with Green Beans and Mushrooms. The chicken is cooked perfectly with the bone in. It is very juicy. Christina says it is simple, but a nicely composed dish. The next dish belongs to Brandi. She made a Togarashi Spiced Rib Eye Steak with Mango Slaw and Mushroom Turnovers. Gordon says it is delicious, the cook is spot on and the turnover she added is amazing. The third dish belongs to David who made Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Tomato Salad and Anchovy Sauce. Chef Kevin Sbraga says the shrimp look beautiful, are seasoned well and taste fantastic, but he would have liked to see the skillet used in more than one way.

And the winner of the Mystery Box Challenge is … Brandi! She is safe from elimination and gets to pick the 3 pairs for the Tag Team challenge. Brandi puts Shaun & Nathan, Tanorria & Dan, and David & Katie together. They will have to make a Romantic Picnic Platter with Beef Sliders, Scotch Eggs, Lobster Rolls, Handmade Potato Chips, Heart Shaped Cookies and Tuxedo Strawberries.

During the cook time Nathan gets extremely stressed. He even faints but he gets up again and keeps on trying. Dan & Tanorria do well until they get flustered at the end. David & Katie struggle with the time limit and don’t get the champagne poured into the glasses. Time is up and David gets so mad at himself he throws the bottle on the ground!

 

David & Katie’s platter is pretty good, but Christina is very unhappy with David’s temper. She says that if he did that in her kitchen he’d be gone. Lucky for Katie, their scant lobster rolls have good flavor, the chips are yummy, the cookies are baked well, the eggs are awkward but tasty and the sliders are nicely done. Dan & Tanorria’s platter is okay, but the lobster roll buns are burned, the eggs are very runny, the strawberries are not finished and burgers are cooked unevenly. Christina says the platter was not done with finesse.  And finally, Nathan & Shaun’s platter is terrible and incomplete. The eggs are missing because they were undercooked and Shaun couldn’t get them peeled. The lobster in the rolls is raw, even though Nathan thought it was cooked perfectly. And the sliders are also very raw! Both Shaun and Nathan completely failed on this challenge.

David & Katie made the best picnic platter. Dan & Tanorria are also safe, so Shaun & Nathan are at the bottom. Shaun is safe. Nathan is going home!

There are lots of tears but Gordon tells Nathan that he is “never, ever, going to have to take crap from anybody ever again.” Nathan says he learned a lot and “I’m not going to quit being me!” He gets a round of applause from the other cooks and a nice exit montage. 6 cooks left.

In the next episode the top 6 home cooks arrive in formal dress at the historic Park Plaza Hotel. This is the Pop-up Restaurant Challenge! David captains the Blue Team. He chooses Tanorria & Brandi. Katie captains the Red Team. She chooses Shaun & Dan. Both teams will cook Pan Seared Scallops & Oysters Rockefeller for appetizers and Poached Lobster & Filet Mignon for entrees.

During the cook time both teams struggle.

On the Red Team Dan is in over his head in a professional kitchen, Shaun overcooks the eggs and Katie has difficulty plating. Later their steaks are ice cold. On the Blue Team the oysters get cold waiting on the scallops because David is not communicating. They improve, but later their lobster is served raw!

Chef Kevin Sbraga talks with the guests in the dining about the dishes and Christina and Gordon observe the cooks in the pressure of the kitchen. In the end the winning team is … THE BLUE TEAM.

Red team goes to Pressure Test. They will have to make three chocolate desserts: Milk Chocolate Cheesecake, White Chocolate Éclair and Dark Chocolate Molted Lava Cake – all in 1 Hour!

During the cook time Dan’s Pate a Choux Dough is too liquidly. He can’t stop it from running out of the piping bag and has to start over! Shaun is piping his white chocolate cream into his pastry the wrong way. And Katie can’t get her lava cake out of the ramekin.

Time is up.

Katie’s cheesecake did not set. Shaun’s is still in the mold and a hair under cooked. Dan’s is cracked and dry. Christina does not say anything about the taste to any of the 3 cooks  but tells the other judges all three cheesecakes have serious flaws.

Katie’s Éclair has no chocolate! Shaun’s filling melted inside. But, Dan’s has a good glaze and filling. Chef Kevin does not comment about taste to the cooks but reports back to the judges about flavors.

Katie’s lava cake is undercooked. Shaun’s is nice and crisp on the outside and perfectly molten on the inside. Dan’s cake was undercook and is all soupy. Gordon barely talks about the taste to the home cooks and tells Christina and Kevin Katie’s tastes as good as Dan’s.

Ultimately, Shaun is safe. Gordon says, “The person … joining the four up on the balcony … and into the top five of the biggest cooking competition anywhere in the world  … (dramatic pause and music)

Katie, it’s not you my darling. Ouch! 😮

Dan is going into the top five. Katie says she thinks Shaun will win. Exit montage.

Now 5 home cooks left. I liked these episodes because I like to see how the contestants handle the increasing pressure as there are less and less cooks in the kitchen.

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