Max’s MasterChef Recap S8x11


MasterChef Season 8 Episode 11 “Vegas Deluxe & Oyster Shucks” begins with the top 12 home cooks in Las Vegas to cook for Caesars Palace 50th Anniversary. Captain Dino gets to pick his whole team first or which protein his team will cook, sea bass or rib cap. Dino chooses people, so Captain Daniel gets to pick his protein and he chooses the fish. Dino’s Red Team is Jason, Eboni, Adam, Jenny & Cate. That means Daniel’s Blue Team is Catlin, Yachecia, Jeff, Gabriel & Newton. The VIP guests will vote on the dishes and the losing team will face the dreaded pressure test.

At the start of the cook time Daniel’s Blue Team quickly agrees on a menu. Dino’s team shoots down all his ideas and comes up with their own plan. Dino says he’ll try to make sure it isn’t the worst idea in the world. And Gordon asks, “Is Dino going to run the Red Team or is the Red Team going to run Dino?” 😮 Dino takes charge but they end up having a hard time getting the cook right on the steak.

The Blue Team is not able to complete their plates because Yachecia’s barley does not cook in time. Gordon tells her she should not get angry with him and it will be near the 60th anniversary by the time they get the Blue Team’s dish out. They have to go without it. MasterChef Champion Shaun is back again as VIP, he’s expecting a lot from the home cooks.


Time’s Up!

The Red Team serves Rib Cap with Parsnip Purée, Chanterelles and Romanesco with Hazelnut Crumble. The Blue Team serves Poached Sea Bass with Pickled Leeks, Turnip Purée and Stuffed Squash Blossom.

With 68% of the votes, the RED TEAM wins by a landslide! Captain Daniel picks two home cooks from his team for the pressure test. He chooses Yachecia and Newton! Newton says, “Path of least resistance. Old man. They want me outta here. I’m their strongest challenger. Daniel, he’s the captain. He’s the one who should be on this pressure test. What a lucky SOB he is. Thanks for driving the bus over me fella.”

Newton and Yachecia have to make Las Vegas on a plate – champagne poached oysters. The oysters need to be shucked. The capellini needs to be made from scratch. The tarragon beurre blanc needs to be draped over the oyster. The cucumber batons need to be cut perfectly. And the delicate dollops of caviar on top need to look beautiful. The home cooks will need finesse, timing and confidence to pull it off. Yachecia is panicking because she has never made anything like this before. She leaves her pasta in a pile instead of hanging it to dry before cooking. Newton knows he is out of his comfort zone but he is confident he can pull it off. But he is going too slow, can’t open his caviar jar and does not get everything on the plate before time is up!

Newton’s dish is incomplete, no caviar and no beurre blanc. His batons are not uniform. But his oysters and pasta are cooked perfectly.

Yachecia’s dish has all five elements. Her oysters are poached beautifully but her beurre blanc and her pasta are too thin. And the pasta is greasy.


While the judges deliberate:

Newton says, “Ten months ago I had a stroke, and spent most of January sick and in the hospital. It’s a huge sacrifice for my family to be here, and for that, I owe them a MasterChef Trophy. There’s no way I can go back home right now.”

Yachecia says, “Food and ministry are the two elements that I’m most passionate about. Now I have the opportunity to take my food dream to whole different level. This is extremely important to me.”


The person who executed their champagne oyster dish just a touch better, the person returning to the MasterChef Kitchen … is … going to be revealed NEXT WEEK!?!

Spoiler Alert! It is Yachecia! 🙂





Max’s MasterChef Recap S8x10


In MasterChef Season 8 Episode 10 “The MASTERCHEF Returns” previous season winner Shaun comes back to inspire the home cooks. He has been traveling the world, been on the MasterChef Cruise and has released his cookbook, “”My Modern American Table.” Shaun put together some of his favorite ingredients for the Mystery Box Challenge: Forelle pears, parsnips, butternut squash and venison tenderloin. Shaun is going to cook alongside the contestants for inspiration and then stay to judge the best three dishes.

At the end of 60 minutes Caitlin’s dish is the first one called forward. She made Seared Venison Loin with Squash-parsnip Purée and Blackberry Sauce. The dish looks great and Shaun loves the taste.

Yachecia made almost the same thing except with Brussels sprout slaw. Aarón gave the dish high marks. The venison is cooked perfectly, but the purée is a bit confusing, is it butternut or parsnip? He says the slaw makes the dish memorable.

And Cate made Spice Rubbed Venison with Celery Root Purée, Shallots, Carrots and Blackberry Sauce. Gordon says that visually the dish is like art. The cook on the meat is spot on and taste amazing. Shaun says it is very close to his finale dish from last season. She knocked it out of the park.

Cate wins the Mystery Box. She is safe from Elimination and gets to choose whether the rest of the cooks will make a sweet to savory coconut dish. Cate decides Jeff, Yachecia, Adam, Dino, and Jason will make sweet dishes. And Newton, Caitlin, Jenny, Daniel, Eboni and Reba will make savory dishes.

During the one hour cook time Jeff’s dislike of baking is very dramatic. His cupcakes fall and he almost gives up! Christina tells him to think about how he plates a savory dish and plate his coconut cakes like that. He pulls it together mentally and goes the route of the “deconstructed” dessert ala Chopped 3rd Round!

Time is up.

Dino made Coconut Cream Puff with Earl Grey, Chocolate, Coconut Cream and Rum. It looks like a volcano and Gordon says it is weirdly delicious, a stunning restaurant quality dessert.

Jeff made “Deconstructed” Cupcakes with Candied Almond-Raspberry Crumble. Gordon says he’s sick and tired of the word “deconstructed” because it is used to cover up a mess. They look and taste bad. He might be done in the MasterChef Kitchen.

Eboni made Lobster & Shrimp Curry with Coconut-Lemongrass Rice and Fried Plantains. The curry is dynamite but Aarón says it needs more herbs to wake up the dish.

Newton made Coconut Crusted Snapper with Sticky Rice, Coconut-Lime Beurre Blanc and Avocado Salsa. Gordon doesn’t like the buffet table presentation and mix of global cuisines. The cook on the fish is good in an otherwise confusing dish.

Yachecia made Coconut & Lime Tart with Chocolate-Coconut Crust and Coconut Meringues. Aarón says it is baked well and tastes good, but the meringues may not be needed.

Caitlin’s Sweet & Spicy Pork Butt with Coconut Rice Pilaf, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Broccolini did not work out because the meat is undercooked. The sides are good but the protein is a disaster. Gordon says her worst dish yet.

Reba made Coconut Shrimp with Asparagus and Coconut Sauce. Although she thinks it looks pretty, Gordon says it is dreadful. “It looks like something from a Waikiki beach buffet back in 1984.” The shrimp is rubbery, the breading is falling off and the sauce is too sweet. The asparagus tastes good though.

And Daniel made Coconut Seafood Soup with Crab, Lobster, Snapper and Coconut Rice. His broth is amazing, the seafood is cooked perfectly. It is time to shine.

Dino and Daniel dishes were outstanding.

Caitlin, Jeff, Reba & Newton are the bottom four. Catlin and Newton are safe. Between Jeff and Reba, Gordon is sorry to tell Reba she is going home. “There is so much respect for you in this room. You started work at fifteen. Fifteen, that’s unheard of. And I think you gave everyone standing behind you an education, and that is the work ethic. You want something in life, get off your ass and work for it. We are going to miss you.”

Reba says, “I’m proud of myself and know my family’ll be proud of me. I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve got to meet three of the most amazing chefs in the world. I’ve got to meet some amazing people. I got to learn some new dishes that I would have never thought or dreamed of. It’s just too soon to go, but I’m going home to the best thing in the world and that’s my family.”

12 home cooks left.

Max’s MasterChef Recap S8x09


MasterChef Season 8 Episode 9 is called “Holy Cannoli.” It starts with the top 14 home cooks arriving to find out they will be cooking in teams for a restaurant filled with local ingredient purveyors, like vegetable farmers, artisan butchers, bee keepers, flour millers and herb growers. And they will be cooking with their amazing products.The judges pick 21 year old Adam as the Red Team Captain. He chooses Brien, Eboni, Dino, Newton, Yachecia and Jeff for his team. And 24 year old Caitlin will be Blue Team Captain. She chooses Daniel, Cate, Jenny, Jason, Gabriel and Reba.

During the 90 minutes cook time each team has to decide on a menu and work together to produce an extraordinary meal. Gordon is worried about the Blue Team leaving the skin on the halibut and the judges can’t believe they want to serve cheese and fish on the same plate. And Christina questions the Red Team’s plan to put some many different ingredients on their plate, the combination of flavors might be dreadful, but it turns out the protein is their downfall. Butchering and cooking the pork chops is too challenging for Brien, he cuts them wrong and burns them too!!!! (should have let Eboni take over after all).

Time is up. The Red Team served Grilled Pork Chop with Parmesan Polenta and Braised Bok Choy. The Blue Team served a Pan Seared Halibut with Fingerling Potatoes and Heirloom Tomato Salad. The purveyors voted on their favorite dish and the Blue Team wins 19 to 11, a landslide! The Red Team is going to the dreaded Pressure Test.

Yachecia (not Brien, as Captain Adam wanted) is saved by the judges because her component, the polenta, was highly praised by all the diners. The rest of the Red Team will be making a treasured Italian classic, six perfect cannoli, two flavors, three of each. Dino is crazy happy. He says, “It’s cannoli! Oh my god, it’s cannoli! I didn’t have a pacifier growing up as a baby. I had a cannoli.” 🙂


During the sixty minute cook time there is some trash talking. Brien says Eboni is ready to go home and that she is the worst home cook in this pressure test. This kind of talk is something the junior home cooks never do. They stay positive and control their anger. Not like Jeff who swears and throws his hat when he is running out of time! And not like Eboni, who shows her frustration by flipping Adam and Brien the bird.

Time is up.

Adam’s cannoli are sloppy looking, but the shells are beautifully fried. The cherry almond flavored cannoli is just “eh.” The ginger and matcha flavored cannoli are too “wormy.”

Dino’s cannoli look stunning. His classic and peanut butter flavored cannoli honor the spirit of his grandmother. Aarón thinks they are great.

Eboni’s cannoli look incredible. Her raspberry and Meyer lemon flavors are delicious. Both shell and filling are near perfect!

Brien O’Brien only got four cannoli in his box and they look horrid. Christina says the filling in the raspberry flavored cannoli is too loose and, “With all due respect, it looks a little throw-uppy.” And the peanut butter flavor filling in the other one is fine, but it just doesn’t belong in a cannoli. Fail.

Jeff’s cannoli are also pretty bad. They look bad and taste horrible.

And finally, Newton’s cannoli are not pretty, but Gordon says they taste amazing and there is great potential with more refinement.

Dino, Eboni and Newton exceled at the cannoli challenge and are safe.

Adam, Brien, and Jeff are the weakest home cooks tonight. Adam and Jeff are safe, so the one going home is Brien O’Brien.His exit speech: “Everyone has their day. Today was not mine. Obviously I’m disappointed. Very few times in my life have I ever been humbled, but, I’m going to take this as a learning experience. I’m going to go home with my head held high and I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life.”


Max’s MasterChef Recap S8x08


MasterChef Season 8 Episode 8 is called “Whole-Y Cow.” It starts with the top 15 home cooks arriving to see Gordon escorting Daisy the Dairy Cow into the MasterChef Kitchen! Their next Mystery Box Challenge is make a restaurant quality dish starring one ingredient that comes from a cow, including milk! They choose their cow part randomly and have sixty minutes to get cooking.

As the home cooks decide what they are going to make with their cow part, Necco talks about getting the beef tongue. Uh oh! :0 He has never cooked with it before, but he says he is confident he can elevate the difficult ingredient.


Cowboy Newton got a porterhouse steak and Gordon tells him he needs to bounce himself back into the competition. Newton wants to redeem himself and says if he doesn’t he’ll have to move away from Texas!Gabriel is a little worried about cooking with the kidneys. He’s never worked with kidneys, he’s never seen kidneys, he’s never eaten kidneys, but he wants to show the judges something that looks like something he would want to eat, and he doesn’t even meat!

Times up! The judges choose three most tempting dishes.

The first best dish belongs to Newton. He made Herb Crusted Porterhouse with Red Onion-Chipotle Marmalade, Braised Greens and Mashed Potatoes. The steak is cooked perfectly, seasoned well and tastes amazing. Gordon says it is Newton at his best!

Jeff has the next best dish. He made Espresso Rubbed Skirt Steak with Sweet Potato-Pepper Quartet, Salsa Verde and Street Corn. Aarón says the steak is cooked medium rare and has great flavor. His corn was a little under done but the seasoning was right.

And third best dish is Brien’s Braised Chuck Roast with Red Wine Glaze, Cauliflower Purée and Frisée Salad. The difficult cut of chuck is tender and juicy, but the presentation is a little clunky.

And the Mystery Box Challenge winner is … Newton! He is safe from the Elimination Challenge and saves the 7 home cooks he thinks are the weakest: Jenny, Catlin, Dino, Reba, Adam, Daniel and Brien. Leaving Cate, Jeff, Necco, Jason, Yachecia and Gabriel to cook the prized, but temperamental Hanger Steak.

During the one hour cook time the strongest home cooks (by Newton’s mind) duke it out in the kitchen. Again, Gabriel has never cooked or eaten this cut of meat. He seems to screw up when he takes the meat out of the oven, but then puts it back in. Big no-no! Will this mistake send him home?

Time is up.

Jason’s Five-Spice Hanger Steak with King Trumpet Mushrooms, Broccolini and French Fries looks like a chef’s dish but the steak is a bit undercooked but the marinade helped a lot.

Jeff’s Hanger Steak with White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes and Brussels sprouts looks a little slovenly, but the meat is a good medium rare and the dish tastes fantastic.

Eboni’s Hanger Steak with Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Mushrooms and Sweet Potatoes is visually rudimentary. The meat is a beautiful medium rare and tastes delicious. The sides are nothing special.

Gabriel’s Hanger Steak with Caramelized Carrots and Crispy Potatoes presents as a very plain dish. The meat has a good sear but is undercooked and so tastes pretty bad. Gordon is upset about this silly mistake.

Cate’s Hanger Steak with Romesco Sauce, Grilled Asparagus and Stuffed Shishito Peppers is a thing of beauty. The medium cook is spot on and has and a great flavor. Aarón is very impressed by the whole dish.

Necco’s Hanger Steak with Morels, Stuffed Tomato and Potato Cake confuses Christina who thinks it looks like dollhouse food! The steak is undercooked and the rest of the plate is disappointing.

And Yachecia’s Herb Marinated Hanger Steak with Mushrooms, Polenta Cakes and Roasted Asparagus is a visually appealing. Gordon says it has that wow factor. The beef is cooked perfectly and tastes delicious. The sides go quite nicely together.

Cate and Yachecia make the best two Hanger Steaks and are the first to be safe.Jeff and Eboni did just enough to also be safe.

Jason, Gabriel and Necco’s steak dishes were not good. Gordon says it comes down to who learns from their mistakes better, and this time the home cook going home is Necco. He says, “I’m super disappointed to leave this competition. Newton’s plan worked. Looks like he’s sending home one of the strongest competitors in the game right now. When I first came into the MasterChef kitchen, I was just another guy from a small town in South Carolina. But today, I’m leaving an accomplished home cook, with a foundation to create so much more in the world of cooking.”