Max’s Recap MasterChef JR S5x11

 

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The “Tag Team” episode starts with the top 8 home cooks walking into the MasterChef Kitchen. They meet the next guest judge, Southern food specialist Chef Edward Lee.

And there is a GIANT Mystery Box that reveals the young home cooks’ families. There are happy reunions and hugs from Peyton’s Mom & Dad, Adam’s Mom, Dad & Big Brother, Jasmine’s Mom, Dad & Big Brother, Afnan’s Mom & Dad, Shayne’s Mom, Dad & Brother, Justise’s Mom, Dad & Little Sister Journey, and Cydney’s Mom, Dad and Twin Sister. The families head up to the balcony to watch their kids cook.

The next Mystery Box Challenge reveals a Blue Apron Food Delivery Box inside. This on contains chicken breast, wild caught Alaskan Salmon, carrots, red onion, baby bok choy, butternut squash, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and rainbow chard. But no recipe. The kids have 45 minutes to use the ingredients to make a dinner a whole family can enjoy. And the home cook that makes the best dish gets a hug advantage in the next challenge, plus their recipe will be published on the Blue Apron Website!

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The judges check in with the cooks while they cook and choose three dishes they want to taste.

The first best dish belongs to Afnan. He made a Pan Seared Salmon with Curried Rice Pilaf, Braised Bok Choy and Swiss chard that looks stunning. Everything was inspired by his Mom & Dad. Gordon it has amazing flavor and he is cooking like a pro. Chef Edward loves the spice but notices the fish is a bit over cooked on the ends.

The next best dish belongs to Justise. She made Pan Seared Salmon with Bok Choy, Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Purée. Her sister loves textures, her mother loves fish, and her father loves everything, so she made it with them in mind. The cauliflower has a great acidity that Christina says she will be talking about for a very long time. The salmon is a hair over cooked, but it is a near perfect dish.

Adam has the last best dish. He made Crispy Salmon with Brown Rice, Rainbow Chard, Bok Choy and Apple Cider Vinaigrette. His mom grew up in Istanbul and his rice has a lot of Mediterranean roots in it. Chef Edward Lee says the balance between the creamy and crunchy textures in the rice is amazing. The fish cooked perfectly and the vinaigrette tastes good. Christina says the veggies and rice are so good they almost out shine the fish.

And the winner is … Justise! She gets her recipe on Blue Apron and she gets to pick the teams for the upcoming Sushi Tag Team Challenge.

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Justise picks Shayne as her partner to bring a flare to the kitchen and good listening skills. Then she pairs two very strong cooks: Jasmine & Adam, the youngest cooks: Cydney & Evan and the remaining cooks: Afnan & Peyton.

During the sixty minute cooking time recreating the Sushi Platter proves really stressful for all the teams. Communication and working together is key. Afnan doesn’t seem to be listening to Peyton.

Adam & Jasmine are both head strong leaders and have a hard time agreeing on technique.

Shayne & Justise are doing amazing because they are talking about who will do what before they switch.

And Evan & Cydney are getting behind and starting to panic. Time is up!!!

Adam & Jasmine’s platter is visually stunning. The shrimp tastes great and the tempura has a good crunch to it. Overall, good job.

Afnan & Peyton sadly did not do well on their platter. Gordon says that the biggest mistake was they started jobs but didn’t finish them. The sushi roll cuts are too thin and the nigiri rolls are missing the wasabi. The tempura is nice and crispy, but the batter is a little thick. And the shrimp is just okay.

Shayne & Justise’s platter looks great. Chef Edward Lee says their California roll captures the essence of sushi. Can’t really get better than that. He is impressed that kids their age could cook so well. Shayne says, “Honestly, in this kitchen, age does not matter.”

Cydney & Evan platter looks sloppy. Gordon says there is uneven slicing and the rolls are too big. But the shrimp is cooked beautifully. Cydney starts to cry but Gordon comforts her by telling her to push through and be strong. He says they have both done better, but today the food was a mess.

In the end, Adam & Jasmine had the best sushi platter of the day. Shayne & Justice also did very well and made it to the top six.

And Evan & Cydney are safe. That means Afnan & Payton are going home. L Gordon says, “Oh dear, Peyton, Afnan, two of the strongest, two of the most talented. You’ve done well, both of you remember what you’ve achieved in this kitchen. Keep your heads up high, and promise me you are going to keep cooking.”

When they are walking out all the kids are cheering for them from the balcony.

Afnan: I’m really sad about going home, but I made it into the top 8. And I know I made my family proud. … I’ve had so much fun here and I’ve made amazing friends. … Just because I’m leaving here to today doesn’t I’m going to stop cooking. I’m going to open a modern bistro.

Peyton: Before this competition I did not have as much confidence, but now I can cook anything. … I got iced by the gingerbread man. And I also loved cooking for famous guest judges. … I’m going to go back to New Jersey, I’m wear my apron and cherish this experience for the rest of my life.

I like this episode because I really like to see how the kids work together on the tag team challenge. I think Shayne & Justise did amazingly together and Adam & Jasmine were impressive. It’s always fun to see the families show up. Happy the kids got to see them.

6 home cooks left!

Max’s Recap MasterChef JR S5x10

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The “Winter Wonderland” episode in April (?) starts with the top 10 home cooks walking into a MasterChef Kitchen snow storm! Shayne is super excited because he has never seen snow before since it hardly ever snows in Texas. Christina and Gordon, dressed something like Buddy the Elf, come out of a giant gingerbread house and pass out presents! The young bakers find out they will be in teams of two decorating a gingerbread house to look like the one stage. The team that does the best will be free from the Elimination Round.

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The teams are: Adam & Jasmine, Mark & Afnan, Shayne & Avani, Peyton & Cydney and Evan & Justise. The kids frantically work together for twenty minutes on this technical challenge. It’s not as easy as it looks and all the teams have their ups and downs with their decorating. In the end the winning gingerbread house belongs to Peyton & Cydney!

Then a kind of creepy looking gingerbread man comes into the kitchen and sprays the young cooks with frosting! Christina and Gordon add sprinkles! Shayne says he wants to make the best of it and starts eating it off himself!

When Gordon pulls off the mask of the phony gingerbread man it’s World Renowned Chef Aarón Sánchez!! He makes a Scooby Doo joke that makes the kids laugh! 🙂 (I think it would have been even funnier if when Gordon pulled off the mask all the kids shouted AARON SANCHEZ!?! in unison.) “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you pesky kids!”

For the next holiday themed challenge the remaining cooks have to replicate Gordon Ramsay’s signature dish, Beef Wellington. “A beautiful seared beef, surrounded by a thin layer of that decadent mushroom duxelle, wrapped in Parma ham, bound together with savory crêpe, and then, finally, wrapped in the most delicious, flakiest, decadent puff pastry. This is exactly what you are aiming for tonight.” All the kids freak out because this is a very hard dish to create.

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During the cook time Avani is having trouble with the Wellington. She says it is not going as she planned. 😦 Gordon worries she is focusing too much on the side dishes.

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Adam, Shayne and Justice are doing well and feeling confident in themselves. The trick is to do it one step at a time.

Mark is doing his best to nail the Wellington. He tells Gordon he cooks rib eye and venison back at home for his family. Gordon says “Good Luck!”

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Time is up.

Mark’s Beef Wellington with Carrot Purée, Potatoes and Asparagus is a little rustic looking for Gordon’s taste. When he cuts into the meat he finds it is a little over seared and undercooked. The pastry is too thick in parts and undercooked and although the purée tastes great it is not a sauce. But still, the dish tastes really good.

Jasmine’s Beef Wellington with Sautéed Chard and Peas is a success. She nailed the cook on the beef and all the components worked well. Christina would have like a root vegetable, but says she is nit picking because the dish is amazing.

Shayne’s Beef Wellington with Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus looks amazing. His beef filet is perfectly cooked and Aarón Sánchez says it is a dish he would like to eat again.

Evan’s Beef Wellington with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta tastes amazing but Gordon is miffed the puff pastry part is not glazed properly. The beef is seasoned well and cooked nicely. The cranberry side doesn’t really fit with the dish, but overall a pretty good job.

Justise’s Beef Wellington with Brussels Sprouts and Apples is cooked spot-on, great sear, great seasoning. And Aarón Sánchez loves her side dishes, but wrap on the Wellington is not tight enough and her duxelle is all over the place.

Adam’s Beef Wellington with Glazed Asparagus and Mushroom-Pearl Onion Sauté looks beautiful. He nailed the temperature and Gordon shows everyone a single slice, “That’s perfection on a knife!” A near-perfect Wellington.

Avani’s Beef Wellington with Cauliflower Mash and Carrots is cooked well and tastes good but the pastry is wrapped too loosely, so the duxelle is only on half the meat. She says she is hoping for a Christmas Miracle.

Afnan nails his Beef Wellington with Asparagus, Carrots and Potato Purée. The filet is seared wonderfully and the duxelle hugs it perfectly, meaning it was properly wrapped. Chef Aarón loves the sauce and tells Afnan, “Well done!”

In the end, Afnan and Adam’s dishes are the top 2.

Sadly, Evan, Mark and Avani’s dishes are on the bottom. All three had technical difficulties with their Wellingtons. Evan is safe, and Avani and Mark are going home. 😦  Gordon says, “Mark and Avani, that was a tough, tough challenge. But, heads up high … wear those aprons with pride.”

When they are walking out all the kids are hugging goodbye. Shayne gives Avani a big hug and says, “Avani, it was a pleasure meeting you!” 🙂 And Avani answers, “It was a pleasure meeting you, too.”

Mark says, “I came to the MasterChef Kitchen because I wanted to prove to the world I can cook. Being in the MasterChef Kitchen I learned that I’m a really good leader and I am serious about cooking. This is what I want to do with my life.”

Avani says, “I came to the MasterChef Kitchen to show Gordon and Christina I might be 8 but I can cook some really great dishes. I’m never going to forget all the friends I’ve made. It has been the best experience in all my 8 years of living. The fact I’ve made it into the top 10 proves that age doesn’t matter. This is just the beginning of my culinary journey.”

Now only 8 young cooks remain.

I liked this episode because I liked to see how the kids would handle the Beef Wellington. I really want to try this dish at home. I thought there were so many sweet moments between the kids, that’s my favorite part of the show.

Max’s Recap MasterChef JR S5x9

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The “Scouts Honor” episode starts with the top 12 home cooks out on a hike in the wilderness with Gordon and Christina. They find their way to a campground and learn they will be cooking pork and two sides for the Boy and Girl Scouts. Peyton and Evan are chosen as team captains.

Peyton’s Blue Teammates are Justise, Jasmine, Shayne, Gonzalo & Lila.

Evan’s Red Teammates are Mark, Adam, Cydney, Afnan & Avani.

The cook will have 75 minutes to cook a meal for hungry campers. The winning team goes directly to top ten. Losing team will have to face the dreaded pressure test.

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The Blue Team decides on making a gravy for their mash potatoes and Gordon absolutely hates the idea. No gravy outside on a sunny 90 degree day! When they change to vinaigrette, Shayne says he can’t do it, but a little friendly screaming back and forth with Gordon helps him feel sure he actually can do it. When the team messes up with the pork chops Gordon asks if they have given up. Shayne says, “No, they are not going to give up!” The Blue Team serves Grilled Pork Chop with Mashed Potatoes and Sautéed Corn.

The Red Team decides they will make potato pancakes out of tiny little potatoes even though Cydney strongly disagrees. When Gordon finds out he says, NO WAY! Roasting is the answer. Getting the pork chops done right is a struggle for Mark. Adam tries to help. They get it together and bounce back after a rough start. The Red Team serves Korean BBQ Pork Chop with roasted Potatoes and Coleslaw.

In the end the Boy & Girls Scouts the preferred the Red Team’s flavors, so the winning team is THE RED TEAM!

That means the Blue Team is in the Pressure Test. They have to make a box of my favorite cookies, French Macarons. Christina says they are “delicious almond meringue cookies… That smooth, hollow top, that ruffled bottom edge, that rich thin center layer of buttercream or ganache. These little cookies might be small, but they require a huge amount of technical skill to get just right. This chic little cookie could save you from going home.”

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During the baking time Shayne tells a bewildered Gordon that he adding bacon to his macarons because as he says, “bacon makes everything better.”

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When Lila is knocking the air out of her macarons she drops a whole batch onto the floor!!! She has to redo them with very little time remaining.

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Gonzalo is really stressed by the challenge because he has never eaten or baked a macaron before! Gordon encourages him to do his best and reminds him every cook has weak areas.

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60 minutes is up super-fast and the macarons have to be boxed and up on the front counter. The bakers just make it!

Peyton’s Blackberry Macarons with Blackberry Buttercream and Black Cherry Jam look good and they have amazing flavor. She has smooth top and ruffled feet, but a tip on top.

Shayne’s Maple Macrons with Bacon Buttercream look technically consistent but have a weird buttery taste with the bacon. Gordon says classics are to be respected.

Justise’s PB & J Macarons with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese and Blueberry Jam look absolutely stunning. Good color and feet and taste amazing.

Lila’s Pink Lemonade Macarons with Raspberry Coulis and Lemon Zest are not visually perfect. The color is good, but the cookie is rough and has a tip. Unfortunately, they are a little overcooked.

 

Gonzalo’s Raspberry Macarons with Buttercream are under mixed and could have used more time in the oven. They are cracked all over but still have a nice flavors.

Jasmine’s Pina Colada Macrons with Pineapple Puree and Lime Zest are beautiful. Technically perfect and delicious, Gordon says she raised the bar for the whole competition.

Peyton, Justise and Jasmine’s macarons earned them a spot in the top ten! Shayne is also safe and heads up to the balcony. That means Lila and Gonzalo are going home 😦  Lila is sobbing and Shayne gives her and Gonzalo a supportive hug.

Gonzalo and Lila give the judges a hug goodbye. When they are walking out all the kids are cheering for them and they get an exit montage.

Lila says, “I’m sad to be leaving Masterchef Junior. But I will never forget my journey here. This is probably one of the best things that has happened to me in my whole entire life. I learned so being in the MasterChef Kitchen. Not many people can say they have cooked for Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi. I’ve meet so many amazing friends here and I will never forget all the fun times. I’m gonna keep cooking and I still want to have a restaurant run by kids someday”

Gonzalo says “When I first came into this kitchen I said this has got to be a dream. I have represented my culture. This opportunity have changed my life forever and I’m definitely grateful. I really do want to be a chef and I don’t think I would have found that if I hadn’t come into the MasterChef Kitchen.”

I liked this episode because I liked to see how the kid baked flavors into their macarons. They did some interesting flavors. I was relived Shayne didn’t go home, but also sad for Lila and Gonzalo!

Max’s Recap MasterChef JR S5x08

 

 

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The “Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner” episode starts with the top 10 home cooks coming into the MasterChef Kitchen to find out Chef Richard Blais is back AND hat they will NOT be cooking. Afnan is in shock, “Who’s cooking? What’s happening? What are we doing?”

6 incredibly talented home cooks are back! And those cooks are JASMINE! GONZALO! MASHU! SYD! DONOVAN AND CHARLIE!

 

When they enter the kitchen the top 10 look very happy and are cheering. They are very excited to see their friends again. Avani says she is very happy to see Donovan because he is kind of cute. She blows him a kiss hello! 🙂

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The 6 eliminated home cooks are back to compete for two aprons and win their way back into the competition. They will have two Chicken challenges.

First a skills test: they need to break down an entire chicken in ten minutes. Gordon shows them how it is done. He cuts the chicken into two wings, two drums, two thighs, two breasts and two chicken oysters. All the kids are impressed by how easy he makes the job look. The returning home cook who does the best job butchering their chicken will win a big advantage in the next challenge.It is tougher than it looks for some of the kids. Charlie is having trouble finding the joints and hits the bone. When he starts to tear up in frustration Gordon comes to help and coaches him to tilt the knife for a clean cut

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Syd and Gonzalo are having a lot of trouble finding the elusive oysters. But they keep trying and find them in the end.

When time is up the judges inspect the results. All the kids had their own ups and downs, but the one who does the very best is Jasmine. She wins the advantage!

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Now for the elimination challenge Chef Richard Blais rolls out a table with platters of different cuts of chicken. Jasmine will get to decide who has to cook the breasts, the drums, the thighs, the oysters, the wings and the giblets. This last platter really grosses out the kids, mostly Charlie who hopes he doesn’t have to cook the neck and feet! 😮

 

Jasmine gives the chicken breast to Donovan, the drumsticks to Charlie, the thigh to Gonzalo, the giblets to Syd and the wings to Mashu. Jasmine saves the oysters for herself to cook.

During the cook time Syd is doing BBQ chicken feet. She says, “Back in Wisconsin I make barbeque ribs and stuff, so why not barbeque chicken feet?”

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Donovan is happy he got the easiest cut and wants to show the judges who he really is. Avani cheers from the balcony, “Let’s watch Donovan flambé!” He says no flambéing tonight, but then says well, maybe a little!

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Thirty minutes in Mashu realizes he forgot his corn starch in the pantry. He needs this to get a crisp on his chicken. No one has any corn starch to share, but Gonzalo gives him his flour. He says, “Mashu’s my friend, and even though this is a competition and the six of us got eliminated and we’re fighting for a spot, that doesn’t mean that I’m not gonna help.” 🙂

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Gonzalo is making an Asian cuisine dish for the first time. It’s a bit risky, but he says he’s always been called nerdy. Chef Richard Blais says “Nerds win at the end of the day. Nerd Power!” 🙂

 

Jasmine is feeling great about her dish she wants to do her best. She loves being in this competition, loves the friends she has made and wants to get back in.

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When Gordon visits Charlie and tells him he has missed him, Charlie says the Master Chef Kitchen is like his second home.

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Mashu is making a Risotto & Japanese style wings. Gordon has never seen these two together in the same dish. Mashu is all about the fusion of Italian and Japanese cuisines. When the other kids on the balcony question the dish, Shayne says, “Mashu can do it!”

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Time is up.

Jasmine’s Chicken Oysters with Honey-Blood Orange Glaze and Spicy Peanut Asparagus are amazing. The chicken oysters are cooked great, the rice is lovely and the caramelization on the vegetables is done beautifully. Gordon says she did a really good job.

Donovan’s Chicken Teriyaki with Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad and Furikake Rice is so good. Richard gets him to taste it too, and Donovan loves it, but sadly the chicken is a little overcooked.

Gonzalo’s Fried Chicken Thigh with Caramelized Peppers, Onions and Sweet-Spicy Sauce is a smart dish. Christina loves the crispy and soft textures and the spicy and sweet flavors. The rice is fragrant but a little overcooked. Overall a well-balanced dish.

Mashu’s Chicken Wing Karaage with Mushroom Risitto, Boy Choy and Spicy Sauce has some problems. The risotto has great depth of flavor but the wings get a little soggy sitting on top. Gordon wishes he had focused more on the wings and forgotten the risotto because the challenge was about the chicken

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Charlie’s Fried Drumsticks with Vegetables, Bamboo Rice and Yuzu Glaze is a nice dish. The chicken is cooked well but the veggies and rice are overcooked.

Syd’s BBQ Chicken Feet with Garlic Bread and Corn “looks scary” but Gordon says chicken feet aren’t meant to look pretty. He wants Syd to try them too! The sauce is really good but the feet need a little more time cooking. Gordon was impressed that she dove in and made a dish of the feet.

The first home cook to win their way back is … JASMINE! When she goes up to the balcony Shayne tells her “Great Job”:)

The second home cook to win their way back is …

GONZALO!! He runs up to the balcony and he and Adam give each other a big hug! 🙂

Sadly Syd, Mashu, Donovan and Charlie have to go home again. The remaining contestants look a little sad to see their friends leave. Gordon tells them to keep their heads up high and to remember, “All four of you are part of the MasterChef Junior Family forever.” :)All the kids are cheering for them as they go out. Mashu is so happy he got a second chance. Charlie is super proud of himself. Donovan is going to keep cooking. And Syd is just happy she got to cook with her friends one last time.

I liked this episode because I was happy to see the kids come back and it was nice to see everyone’s happy reactions to seeing each other again. It really is like family.

Now there are twelve, again.