The 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.
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.”
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!
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!”