MasterChef Season 9 episode 2- Part 2: First mystery box challenge


MasterChef Season 9 episode 2 has twenty-four excited home cooks who are thrilled to enter the MasterChef kitchen. What do they face under their first mystery box?

As the contestants enter in MasterChef Season 9 episode 2, Gordon reminds us that we are here to “prove which judge identified America’s next MasterChef.” The mentor structure of this season will give us the chance to see which judge is best at spotting raw talent and training that talent into MasterChef material.

And just like that, our first mystery box challenge is upon us! The boxes reveal an ingredient native to each cook’s home state. They each need to create a dish that features that ingredient and reflects the cuisine of their state. Gordon is looking for the chefs to pay respect to classic dishes from home but to add a modern twist. Aaron wants to see their personal style and Joe expects to see their versatility in being able to handle any ingredient.

Over the course of the hour cook time, the judges visit each station to talk with the cooks and observe their technique. At one point, Bowen has a massive flair up when Gordon is behind him. Gordon teases him, “you just singed my hair. That cost a fortune!”

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant Bowen 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.

The judges express some concern as they watch the action. Stephanie is making a frittata which they all agree is too simple. Sal, gifted beautiful spot prawns from California, has decided to make a New Orleans style dish and so fails half the challenge.

At last, the time winds down and the judges announce they will each bring up one winning cook out of their mentees. Joe calls for Emily from Wisconsin who has cheddar cheese as her ingredient. She delivers a broccoli mac and cheese with crispy chicken thigh and white wine cheddar sauce. Her beautifully brown chicken dish sits in a skillet that rests on a wooden board. Gordon loves her gastro pub style presentation.

Emily gets rave reviews. Joe, her mentor, praises her for being smart. Aaron asks her, “do you feel that you are more informed food-wise by virtue of what you do?” She assures him that food is her life as a food anthropologist.

Aaron next calls forth Farhan from Illinois who received walleye. His peppercorn-crusted walleye is perched on top of homestyle mashed potatoes and a golden coconut moilee sauce. He has created his own spice blend for the fish composed of fennel, mustard seed, cumin, and coriander. Everyone is impressed by his skill with spice and Gordon deems him “the original spice boy.”

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

Gordon is last to call up his cook, Ashley. Being from Florida, she was given oranges. She presents a colorful mojo pork tenderloin with mashed sweet plantains and orange mustard sauce. She has used oranges throughout- in the marinade for the pork, the sauce, and the plantains. The judges would like a more “restauranty” presentation and find the dish a little sweet overall, but she has still impressed them all. She earns her spot as first on the balcony.

And now the gut wrenching moment when the judges announce that three cooks let them down and must battle to stay. Gordon nominates Sid for not using his time wisely. Sid, a 63-year-old food photographer from Florida, was given oranges and made a ceviche. Aaron nominates Alecia. She was given cherries from Michigan and made an overly sweet, messy stuffed French toast. Joe nominates Sal for having a plate so greasy that it is inedible.

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As everyone else hurries to the balcony in relief, Gordon tells Sid, Alecia, and Sal that they will make a classic American dish, steak and mashed potatoes. To give them a fighting chance, Gordon demonstrates perfect technique.

First you must dice your potatoes small enough to cook quickly, and then you steam them. You then get a cast iron pan piping hot. Season your steak well. Put one tablespoon of oil, a couple of garlic cloves and fresh thyme in your hot pan and then sear the steak. Each side gets 90 seconds to sear, and you must be sure to sear top, bottom, and sides. Once seared, add butter and baste the steak with the hot butter to cook it to medium rare.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Juni with judge Aaron Sanchez in the “The Judges Do Battle, Pt. 3” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 6 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting.

Remove the steak and butter from the pan to let it rest. Add butter and shallots to the pan and deglaze it with cognac. Once the alcohol has cooked out, add beef stock, demi glace, and cream to create a rich, meaty sauce. Mash the potatoes with cream, butter, and fresh chives.

After this mouth-watering display, the cooks are told to make their own version in just 30 minutes. Three will cook but only one will be safe!

While Gordon made it all look easy, any small mistake will stand out in a dish with so few ingredients. The cooks have to avoid pitfalls such as raw wine in the sauce, undercooked potatoes, or steak cooked to anything but medium rare.

Sal is flustered when Joe questions his plan to use both wine and bourbon in his sauce. He quickly decides to skip the bourbon. But Sid seems to struggle most of all. When Joe asks him what is in his pan, Sid remains silent, unable to talk and cook at once. He goes back and forth to the pantry and wastes time looking for a potato masher. He is clearly struggling with timing and juggling the many simultaneous tasks needed for the dish.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant Ralph and 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.

After 30 short minutes, they are done. Joe tells them all that “I’m not here to save you. All decisions will be informed by the opinion of the three judges together.” They start with Sal. He has created a pan seared steak with red wine reduction sauce and parmesan mashed potatoes. Unfortunately, his steak is not medium rare, and his sauce has become over-reduced.

Alecia has pulled off a seared steak with mushroom onion sauce and loaded mashed potatoes. Her steak is perfectly cooked. Her potatoes with bacon, scallions, cream, butter and thyme sound delicious. The only real complaint is that she needs finesse in plating.

Poor Sid’s flustered, scattered cooking appears on his plate. His herb-crusted steak is perfectly cooked but lacks pepper. His beef stock onion mushroom sauce has broken. His Yukon gold mashed potatoes lack salt and are lumpy.

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After these critiques, it is not surprising to see Alecia gets to stay. Sal accepts his defeat with grace, saying he is “humbled. It’s been an honor to be able to make food for three wonderful judges.” He plans to keep pushing toward his dream of starting a supper club. Sid also leaves with dignity saying, “I’m going to continue mastering the way I cook to at least absorb what you have taught me here.” At 63, he says he’s too young to quit cooking now.

I wish them both the best. How will everyone do next week when faced with a live crab challenge? The previews promise lots of squeamish shrieking!