For the Semi-Finals the top 6 return to cook their last Mystery Box. When they lift the boxes they find letters from home! 😊 They are asked to make a dish inspired by their families. After they get all the ingredients they need in the pantry they are shocked to find their families waiting for them back at their stations!
Inspirational guests are: Reid’s dad, Tim and brother, Cade; Ivy’s mom, Timna and sister, Anavi; Aaron’s mom, Erica and sister, Akira; Che’s mom, Elizabethanne and brother, Cosmo; Malia’s dad, Chris and brother Austin; & Sadie’s mom, Rebecca and brother, Elias. They will be cheering on the young home cooks from the balcony. 😊 The judges will be tasting all six dishes and the winner of this Mystery Box gets a place in the MasterChef JR Finale!
Malia’s Salmon & Lemon Pesto with Beurre Blanc Sauce, Carrots & Turnips is on point. The salmon is nicely cooked and all the veggies make sense and the pesto is good but a touch too strong. Chef Christina says, “Gorgeous job.”
Sadie’s Poached Halibut with Squash Blossom, Goat Cheese, Spring Pea Purée and Frisée Salad looks stunning. She nail the cook on the fish and although the cheese is gooey and rich it doesn’t really make sense with the dish because goat cheese is too sharp to be served with halibut. Chef Gordon says, “However, you are a very strong twelve-year-old. Good job.”
Reid’s Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Peas and Fried Parsley looks great. It is golden brown and crunchy on the outside and nice and juicy on the inside. The dish is spiced well but the potatoes are not as fluffy as they should be. Chef Aarón says, “You did such a great job in executing this.”
Ivy’s Veal Schnitzel with German Potato Salad and Vegetable Salad stands out. The veal is truly the star of the dish. Chef Christina loves the warm potato salad but thinks the tomatoes are a tad to large, “but, very nice job.”
Che’s Pan-Seared Red Snapper with Black Bean Purée, Polenta Croutons and Baby Squash is stunning. He nailed the cook on the fish and his polenta croutons are crisp on the outside and nice and creamy on the inside. Chef Gordon loves that the dish has harmony, the flavors go well together. “Refined beyond belief. Good job.”
And Aaron’s Ethiopian Lamb Loin with Injera, Sautéed Spinach and Yogurt Sauce is impressive, especially since he never made it before. The spices are wonderful and he nailed the cook on the lamb, but Chef Aarón feels the plate needs more starch, “but there is a real exotic feel to this dish that is really special and is a testament to your family. Really well done, Aaron.”
And the winning dish belongs to … CHE!!!
He wins his spot in the finale and he gets to hand out 1 of 5 fruits to the other kids. They are: Cherries; Mango; Pineapple; Pear; & Peach. Che says, “Everyone here is a great cook, and we’re such great friends. But I also understand that’s it’s a competition, so I’m not giving anyone a free pass in this finale.”Aaron wants pineapple but he gets Cherries.Reid wants peaches but he gets Mango.
Sadie wants cherries but she gets Pineapple.
Ivy wants cherries but she gets Pear.
Malia wants cherries but she gets Peaches
The most important sixty minutes in the competition for the remaining five fly by. Only two of the five will win spots in the finale. As Sadie says, “These odds are not in my favor.” As the end approaches, from the balcony Che says, “Not a lot of time left guys. Come on you got this.” And Gordon starts the countdown! “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one! Hands in the air!”
Sadie made a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Pineapple 3 Ways. Chef Aarón thinks the dessert shows genius. The grilled pineapple offers relief from the sweetness of the cake and rich caramel. “Good job young lady.” Chef Christina says the dish is complex and bright. It proves she can bake like a MasterChef! One note though is to add a little fatty cream to round out the sweet.
Ivy made Blue Cheese Crusted Pork Chop with Sautéed Cabbage and Caramelized Pears. Chef Gordon thinks the dish looks stunning. She nailed the cook on the pork chop, the inside is moist and glistening. The blue cheese and pear work well together. Everything on the dish fits. Chef Gordon says, “I think it’s one of the best dishes you’ve cooked ever. Great job.”
Reid made Spiced Mango Rum Cake with Passion Fruit-Mango Purée. Chef Aarón likes the sauce and the purée and loves that used the mango in three ways. Unfortunately, he think the cake is undercooked. Chef Gordon loves the cake and doesn’t think it is undercooked. He likes the combo of mango and passion fruit, the richness and tartness elevates the cake. “Really, really delicious. Well done.”
Malia made Peaches & Cream with Buttermilk Biscuits and Candied Macadamia Nuts. Chef Christina thinks this is her best looking dish, it is very elegant. Malia nailed the caramelization of the peaches and the bake of the biscuits. Chef Gordon agrees that visually “it’s got that Wow Factor. It’s an accomplished dish. It’s creative. I would have preferred a little more of the peaches. But I’m seriously impressed.”
And Aaron made Sautéed Duck with Fregula and Pickled Cherries. Chef Gordon likes that he used cherries three ways, but points out the cherries are competing with the duck as the star of the dish. And sadly, the duck is slightly undercooked. But he nailed the seasoning and the cherries. Chef Gordon says, “It’s going to be a tough call. It’s a good dish. I don’t think it’s your best, but it’s a very strong effort. Thank you.”
The next young cook in the Finale is … IVY! And the last chef in the Finale is … MALIA!
Chef Gordon says, “Aaron, Reid, Sadie, you three have been incredible. Sadie! You’re like the princess of pastry. You are a phenomenon. Reid! Eight years of age, you are super talented. Next time I see you, can we go fishing together? You can show me how to catch a proper catfish? I’m going to miss you. Aaron! You’re funny, witty, charming. You’ve got a career in anything you decide to do because you put your heart and soul into it. Right, you three mustn’t ever stop cooking.” YES, Chef! Hugs and hugs and hugs from the judges and final three. Sadie, Reid and Aaron hold their heads high and get cheers from their friends as they walk out. Reid says, “I’m disappointed I’m not in the finale. But I’m proud of what I accomplished. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I cooked my heart out and I did my best.” 😊 Sadie says, “Going home after working so hard is a little frustrating. But when I get home, I can’t wait to open up my French Bistro/Cat Café.” 😊 Aaron says “I accomplished so much! I may not have a MasterChef Trophy, but I’ve got the passion and to make my dreams come true.” 😊