Max’s MasterChef Recap 08X20&21

-1The Season 8 MasterChef Finale begins with the grand entrance of the top 3 home cooks.

Jason, a 34-year-old Highschool Music Teacher from Newton, Massachusetts. He has shown he can plate beautifully with explosions of flavor. His mother, father, brother and partner are very proud of him and in the MasterChef Kitchen to cheer him on to victory.

Eboni, a 33-year-old Addictions Counselor, Military Wife and Mother of four from Chicago, Illinois. In the kitchen she always pushes herself to be the best, fuel by love for her family. Her husband and kids are rooting for her and say they are really missing her at home.

And Dino, a 28-year-old Dancer from Benson Hurst, New York. His artistic and unconventional eccentricities on a plate have blown the judges away. His parents are excited to watch him cook in the finale, they so impressed with the way his cooking skills have grown.

Joe Bastianich is back in the MasterChef Kitchen and will be the fourth judge in the finale. He says he has missed “the incredible energy and passion of the home cooks in this competition.”


The cooking is exciting in each round, but I’m going to just talk about the food served.

Appetizer Round!

Jason made Uni Custard with Prawns, Clams and Miso Vinaigrette. The presentation is breath taking. The custard is a bit broken but still tastes amazing, the clams and spot prawns bring wonderful sea flavors. Sublime, but not perfect.

Eboni made Pan Seared Scallops with Charred Romanesco, Rainbow Chard and Pea Purée. Visually it is a beautiful dish, but the scallops are undercooked. The cauliflower and the purée are rustic and spectacular.

Dino made Squid Ink Capellini with Calamari, Clams and Cherry Tomatoes. This dish has a gorgeous presentation. The pasta is perfect and together the components are delicious. Joe says, “This dish is authentic, flavorful, properly executed … You’re one hell of an excellent Italian pasta cook.”


Entrée Round!

Jason created a Tofu Wrapped Black Cod with Bay Scallops, Maitake Mushrooms and Cucumber-Pea Tendril Sauce. It is a remarkable and he invented the dish! Aarón, Joe and Christina love it, but Gordon is very disappointed with the way the cod is cooked in the tofu and placed in the green broth.

Dino made Rack of Lamb with Lamb Belly-Sunchoke Caponata and Balsamic Glaze. The cook on all four cuts of lamb is spot on, perfect medium rare, but there is some fat cap remaining on Aarón and Gordon’s lamb. The dish tastes great and the belly is cooked well, but Gordon says the garnish and glaze are all wrong. Joe disagrees, he says Dino can cook old world Italian in today’s style very well.

Eboni made Honey Glazed Duck Breast with Sweet Potato Mash, Collard Greens and Crispy Heirloom Carrots. The presentation is down-home rustic. Gordon points out that duck is not easy to cook and the breast is a bit undercooked, but everything else on the plate is incredibly delicious. Aarón says the collards are the best he’s ever had. Joe says it was 90 seconds away from being a three-star dish and finishes cooking the duck with a lighter under the dish!

Desert Round!

Dino made a Pistachio Tiramisu with Orange Mascarpone Cream, Expresso Caviar, and Pistachio Tuile. It’s nothing like a traditional tiramisu. Still, Joe loves it. Aarón says it is very much off kilter, but delightful. Christina likes the sugar tuile and the ideas in the dessert, but not so much the execution of the pistachio. Gordon doesn’t like that Dino called it a tiramisu, but says it is “bloody delicious.”

Eboni made Chocolate Orbit Cake with Macadamia Crumble and Passion Fruit Coulis. It is baked perfectly inside and Christina says it is incredible. Joe says the glaze is fantastic, but Aarón doesn’t like it. He thinks it takes away from the decadent cake. Gordon the dessert has a ‘Wow” factor.

Jason made Black Sesame Japonaise with Chocolate Yuzu Mousse and Berry Shiso Coulis. Visually, the dessert is a work of art. Gordon & Christina love the chocolate mousse with yuzu. Aaron calls it a well-seasoned dessert and Joe says, “It’s tart, acidic, sweet, chewy, nutty, crunchy, a great nod to Asian cuisine, along with a great sweet sensibility of just a delicious dessert. Great job.”

The judges deliberate. Argue. And finally agree the next MasterChef Champion is … DINO! He is ecstatic. “Mommy I did it! Mother! I did it Ma!” and “BABY DOLL! I AM THE NEXT MASTERCHEF!”

Eboni says, “I’m happy for Dino, I’m proud of Jason, myself. I just wasn’t my time yet. I’m still going to pursue my food dreams. This isn’t the last you’ve seen of me.”And Jason says, “I’m so happy for Dino. … To make it this far in the finale, and to cook for the judges, and to make so many friends, I am just over the moon. I feel like I won too!” You can’t get that guy down. 😊Dino says, This is the biggest moment of my life. My whole life was built for this – this right here, for this point. I’m very proud of everything I accomplished tonight. And I know my mother’s proud of me. That’s all that really matters to me. This right here is the ticket to the beginning of my life. For the last 28 years, I’ve been trying to figure out who I am. And now I’m finally awake and I’m finally getting to go out there and be that positive light I was born to be!”


Max’s MasterChef Recap 18 & 19


MasterChef Season 8 Episode 18 begins with the top 6 home cooks finding a letter from their loved ones under their final Mystery Box. Everyone is missing their family and the letters are very emotional, but not as emotional as the actual folks surprising them on stage. Jeff’s fiancée and baby, Yachecia’s daughter, Jason’s partner, Dino’s mum, Cate’s dad and Eboni’s daughter. They will make a dish inspired by the love of their family.

The first best dish belongs to Eboni who says I’m “I’m not cooking anymore, I’m cheffing it!” She made Herb Crusted Lamb with Gruyère, Sweet Potato Fondant, Swiss Chard and Red Wine Reduction. The lamb is a beautiful medium rare and herb crust is fresh and delicious.

Secondly, the judges want to try Yachecia’s dish. She says, “This is the most beautiful plate I have ever done in my life!” She made White Grape Gazpacho with Spicy Grilled Shrimp. Gordon says it is delicious and tastes expensive. It is visually stunning.

And third, Cate, who says, “I’m so pumped to have my Dad here to witness me get called to bring my dish to the judges!” She made Venison Loin with Chestnut Purée, Butternut Squash and Smoked Cherry Compote. The cook on the venison is gorgeous. Christina says the rub is amazing, nice and sweet, and every bite is perfection.

Cate wins the last Mystery Box Challenge! She is safe and gets to pick how long the others will have to cook an elevated Salmon dish. She sends Jason to the pantry first with the full 60 minutes, Eboni gets 50 minutes, Yachecia 40 minutes, Dino gets 30 minutes and Jeff gets only 20! Cate says it is because he has the poorest attitude in the kitchen. He can’t explain his dish to Gordon and only starts cooking the fish with 90 seconds to go!

Time is up!

Jason made Vietnamese Salmon with Daikon and Crab Slaw. The salmon is cooked beautifully and the slaw is delicious. His knife work is perfect.

Eboni made Crispy Skin Salmon with Bamboo Rice, Spinach and Avocado Remoulade. The seasoning looks nice and the cook on the fish is spot on. She nailed the forbidden rice. Aarón says each element on the dish is flawless.

Yachecia made Sweet & Hot Salmon with Braised Swiss Chard, Tuscan White Beans and Citrus Cream Sauce. Gordon says “it looks disgusting” and the fish is “hammered!” He actually spits it out!!! Not a dreamy dish.

Dino made Squash Wrapped Salmon with Fregola and Crab Stuffed Pepper. The fish is cooked nicely and the fregola’s flavor and texture are a smart pairing. An elegant dish.

And finally, Jeff’s 20 minute Mediterranean Salmon with Cheese-Tomato Relish and Fruit-Cucumber Gratin is basically raw. “Are you trying to poison me?!?” Jeff insists he wanted the fish to come out that way! Gordon is stunned.

While the judges are deliberating Dino and Jeff verbally spare. Dino teases Jeff about it not being a sushi challenge and Jeff comes back with pure rudeness. You will never hear the MasterChef Junior contestants treating each other with such disrespect. Not cool.

Not surprisingly, Yachecia and Jeff are the bottom 2. They both go home!! Yachecia’s salmon was miles away from what they expected from her and Jeff gets so defensive they felt they couldn’t teach him anymore because he wasn’t prepared to listen.

Yachecia says, “I’m bummed about being eliminated, but it’s kind of mixed emotions though, because I’m so proud of myself for going this far. There is no way in the world that I could feel disappointed because I’ve grown so much in this competition.”

Jeff says, “I’m leaving the MasterChef Kitchen but this but this journey bought out Jeff 2.0. My cooking has been elevated to a new level. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’m a very passionate person and so I might have ruffles a few feathers, honestly I probably have. But, I always worked hard, I supported my team, and I did the best I could.”


Next episode is number 19, the Semifinals.

The top 4 home cooks will compete in skills tests using Flour.  At the end, 3 cooks will be in the finale and 1 will go home empty handed. The best cook in each test will earn a spot in the top three.


First Test: Profiteroles


Jason’s profiteroles are glazed and baked well. There is pastry cream in every nook and cranny, and they taste great. Eboni’s profiteroles themselves look good but the white chocolate glaze is grainy and runny. Inside, the filling is beautiful and tastes great. Dino’s dark chocolate glaze looks grainy and dull. Inside they are beautifully filled and the profiterole is done well. But the glaze didn’t work. And Cate’s are a bit small, misshaped and messy. She filled them from the side, which is unconventional and the taste is a bit off. Pressure is on.

The first one in the finale is Music Teacher, JASON!


Second Test: Lava Cake


Eboni’s cake is baked well and tastes good. Dino’s cake is flat, undercooked but tastes great. Cate’s is slightly broken but tastes amazing.The next one going to the finale is Addiction Counselor, EBONI!


Third Test: 3 Cheese SoufflésDino and Cate do their very best to present three perfect cheese soufflés. All 3 soufflés are tasted at the same time and the judges don’t let on to what they think until they announce that the last home cook in the finale is …… Ballet Dancer, DINO!

Cate is going home. 😦  She says, “When I first came back here, I had one goal and it was to get my apron. I made it to the very last step before the finale. That’s huge. I had some obstacles throughout this competition and it feels like I’ve climbed over MT Everest to get to this point. Not only did I learn about cooking, I learned more about myself and my strengths and my weaknesses. I’ve won so many challenges. I came here for redemption and I redeemed myself and some. My dream was, yeah, to win the trophy, but I still feel like I won an experience of a lifetime.”



Max’s MasterChef Recaps S8/12-17

With two episodes a week airing it’s been tough to keep up. Here is a quick look at who went home:

Episode 12 “In a Pinch”

Jenny failed her with her crawfish then was unable to make dumplings. She was sent home. She said, “I’m disappointed. It’s a bummer to be going home. Top 10 was like this close (pinching her fingers together).This competition has changed my life in so many ways. I’m really, really proud with the person I’ve become, the confidence I’ve gained, and the passion that’s been really invigorated in me. I’m so excited for the next step.”

Episode 13 “Gordon’s Game of Chicken”

Despite cooking like a top level chef in his last challenge, Adam was sent home because his chicken was raw. Adam said “I’m sad to go, but the fact I made it to the top ten in the Masterchef Kitchen is so life affirming. As hard as it was to leave Harvard, coming here to the Masterchef Kitchen, totally worth it. I don’t have to worry about pursuing investment baking or pursing a law degree. I know what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life.”

Episode 14 “A Mexican Tag Team Challenge”

Caitlin goes home due to a lack of assertiveness in the team challenge with Jeff. Letting him take over was a mistake. She said, “I’m definitely disappointed, but I think the judges made the right decision because tonight I can see why they didn’t think my voice came through. But I can’t be sad that I was only part of the top 9. Like the top 9? That’s amazing. I’m so thankful for this experience, for putting me in a position to learn and grow. I consider this competition for me, a success.”

Episode 15 “The Great Outdoors”

Daniel goes home due to unmelted chocolate in his truffle pressure test. hhHe says, “I guess I’m supposed to be upset or disappointed but I’m not. I’m so happy with what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished, and uh, I get to go home I get to hold my fiancée, I get to feel my baby kick. I’m going home to soon, but I’m going home happy and with my head held high. I may be 5’5, but I feel like I’m 8 feet tall right now.”

Episode 16 “Chopsticks & Pasta”

Gabriel is sent home due to his collapsing cannelloni in the pressure test. But what happened next is amazing!!! Gordon said Gabriel has the potential to be great and offered to send him to culinary school and help his family. Then Aarón offered him a job in New Orleans when he gets out of school. It’s better than winning the show! He says, “I’m not going back to fast food. I’m not going back to my regular routine. I’m changing my life and that is all thanks to “MasterChef” and what the judges have presented me. My parents have always struggled. They don’t make a lot of money so Chef Ramsey offering to pay for my culinary school and telling me not to stress about my parents is a huge relief because they are my main people that I care about, love and respect. On top of that, I get to go and experience this amazing food scene and this amazing restaurant that Chef Sanchez wants to put me at. To me that’s the world, that’s the jackpot. The trophy’s shiny but this is amazing!”


Episode 17 “Pop-Up Restaurant”

After a lot of team challenge drama in the vineyard and some trash talking between Dino and Jeff – no one actually goes home. Jeff, Cate and Eboni all make a great chocolate soufflé in the pressure test and the judges can’t find a reason to send one of them home. No one went home, thus not exit speech. I am guessing next week 2 go home and I’ll be writing my full recap on that episode. See you then!