MasterChef recap Season 9 episode 2 part 1: Who makes the cut?


In this MasterChef recap Season 9 episode 2, the judges hand out the final white aprons. Which home cooks will make it past the signature dish challenge?

This week’s MasterChef recap Season 9 episode 2 narrowed down the field. The show opens with a brief recap of where we stand. This season, the judges are able to give out just eight aprons each. The judges will mentor their eight contestants, so the judges are competing to produce the winning chef. Of the original eight, Joe Bastianich only has 2 left to give. Aaron Sanchez has 4 remaining aprons, and Gordon Ramsey has 3.

If a contestant is offered an apron by more than one judge, the contestant gets to pick his or her mentor. Gordon tells them, “if you’re smart you’ll pick me.” Gordon is looking for someone willing to learn. Aaron is looking for risk takers with heart. Joe wants “people who already have great palates, abundant food knowledge, and real technique in the kitchen,” so I guess he is hoping past winners will show up.

The first battle is a fried chicken face off. Farhan, a 25-year-old dental student from Chicago, loves to combine Indian flavor profiles with classic American dishes. He feels like his Indian-American combos could be the next Tex-Mex food craze. Gerron, a 25-year-old English teacher from Louisville, was the first of his family of seven siblings to graduate from college.

Both use a family recipe. Farhan’s tandoori fried chicken on a black pepper buttermilk biscuit uses his dad’s tandoori chicken blend and his mom’s cilantro chutney. Gerron uses his mom’s Nashville hot chicken recipe, complete with a paper bag to apply the seasoning shake-and-bake style.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant Taylor and host / chef Gordon Ramsay in the ÒThe Judges Do Battle, Pt. 3Ó episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 6 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting.

Farhan’s dish impresses the judges with Aaron calling it “one of the best things I’ve ever tasted in this kitchen.” Gerron fares well too, though Gordon wishes he had used more finesse in plating. Joe awards Gerron a white apron. Aaron and Gordon offer Farhan an apron, and he selects Aaron. They’ve bonded over the way they can use food to introduce America to their cultures. Gordon intones, “well done you two but you’ve got the worst two mentors you could have picked.”

The next group has selected to do something “either brave, foolish or both, probably,” per Joe, and I agree. They are all doing their spin on a Gordon Ramsey signature dish.

Tye, a 42-year-old assistant professor from Maryland, is a former basketball player. She plans to tackle a lamb burger. Alecia, a 30-year-old day care owner from Michigan, wants to make fish and chips. Darrick, a 34-year-old engineer from Arizona, will attempt sticky toffee pudding, much to Gordon’s horror.

Gordon explains that the pudding is the most difficult to pull off by far. Darrick clearly admires Gordon and has gone to a number of his restaurants for inspiration. He plans to bake rather than steam his pudding given the time constraints.

Tye faces a potential downfall of a dry lamb burger and decides to use milk and Panko in her patty to keep it moist. Alecia must time her fish fry perfectly to achieve a crisp crust.

Unfortunately, Alecia cooks her fish too early. As it sits, the fish steams the crust and it becomes soggy. Tye’s plan to keep her burger moist has backfired and left her with a wet, soggy burger. Poor Darrick watches anxiously as Gordon tries his pudding and says nothing at all. Aaron tells him he likes the spice level, but Joe too says nothing.

MASTERCHEF: Judge Joe Bastianich in the ÒThe Judges Do Battle, Pt. 3Ó episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 6 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting.

Joe does not offer an apron to anyone. Aaron offers an apron to Alecia. Gordon then surprises everyone by approaching with three aprons and then putting them, one by one, in front of Darrick. With each apron, Darrick loses more control until he is crying in shock. Later, he says it would “be nice to keep all three and have extra lives like a video game.”

Though we do not get to see their competitions, we are briefly introduced to Lindsay, Sal, and Stephanie who receive an apron from Aaron, Joe, and Gordon respectively. This leaves just two aprons left for the final group.

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The last group features spicy signature dishes. Juni, a 28-year-old disability analyst from North Carolina, calls himself a “middle aged suburban housewife trapped in a gay man’s body.” His lively spirit fades as he explains that his mom was deported to Mexico six years ago. He cooks his memories and feels closer to his mom. Juni also reveals that he is a vegetarian.

Nik, a 29-year-old model from the Cayman Islands, laughingly explains that she is a model who eats and cooks with island flair. Chera, a 48-year-old realtor from Texas, competes in recipe contests so she has some background in cooking competition. Ashley is a 28 year old who gave up a career in teaching to pursue her cooking dreams.

Chera’s herb crusted lamb chop with corn jalapeño salsa is sadly undercooked to the point of being hard to cut. Juni’s chile relleno has too much sauce which robs it of crunch and diminishes his presentation. Nik’s Cayman style lobster needs a broth to counteract the heat of her scotch bonnets. Ashley’s chocolate spiced brownie needs a tart element to cut through the richness, and plating it while hot leads to a sloppy presentation.

In the end, their flavors overcome their mistakes and Nik, selected by Aaron, and Ashley, selected by Gordon, are our final two contestants. Joe, who was out of aprons before this final round, closes by mumbling, “fighting over scraps” about the other judges’ final choices.

Next: MasterChef premiere - who's competing this season?

I’m really enjoying the competitive dynamic between the judges, and on the flip side, I love to see the camaraderie and support between the contestants. Will that warm support last through the upcoming challenges?