MasterChef Season 9 Episode 5 Recap


MasterChef’s top twenty-two face a Gordon Ramsay skills test that can fight back! Who will crack this challenge to float to the top?

As the home cooks enter the MasterChef kitchen, they are brimming with confidence. Gerron, our schoolteacher from Kentucky, tells us that he “cannot be taken down. Something I tell my students every day is that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve it. I’m really feeling that statement in the MasterChef kitchen today.” Gerron has a very different school-related statement to make by the end.

But first, the cooks approach a large box. Joe dramatically reveals the contents- live Dungeness crabs. Their skills test today is to boil, shuck, break down, and present a crab.

Gordon demonstrates the technique. First, he heavily salts water and brings it to a boil. The live crab is then put in the water for 15 minutes. Once cooked, he shocks it in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. He then breaks the crab down to harvest the meat.

He removes the legs with a pull and twist. He lifts the apron of the crab up with his thumbs and then cuts the body in half with his knife. He thoroughly picks the meat from the body. The meat from the legs and claws is removed carefully using his knife and scissors to cut away just enough shell to extract the meat whole.

Once he has harvested the meat, he brushes the shell as well as the leg and claw meat with olive oil to give it a shine and to protect it from becoming dry. He arranges the body meat in a pile on a black slate, covers that with the shell, and then arranges the leg and claw meat around the shell so that the crab is again “reassembled.”

The cooks now have 30 minutes to replicate this stunning presentation. The judges are looking for maximum yield and no shell in the meat. Beyond this, Gordon is looking for a “quick learner with attention to detail who can respect the product.” Aaron is looking for someone with confidence in the face of the unknown.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant in the all-new ÒGordon Ramsay MasterclassÓ episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 13 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting.

What follows is a lot of squealing. Everyone must snatch a live crab from the tank, and then one of their first tasks is to boil that live crab. Alecia in particular seems to struggle with this part as she literally screams and flails her arms in distress over boiling the live crab.

Right away, some cooks seem to be doing quite well and others seem to be in trouble. Juni is a long-time vegetarian so he lacks experience. Poor Shanika is allergic to shellfish and resorts to talking to herself constantly to push through her own terror.

Others are confident. Mark, the cocky 19-year-old, regularly breaks down crab at his mom’s restaurant in Maine. Samantha is calm and methodical. Farhan actually finishes with five minutes to spare.

Time is called and everyone seems to have a complete plate. Judging begins with young Mark. Though he cut too deeply into a front claw, the rest of his plate is well done and he is the first to go to the balcony. Alecia, despite her screaming early on, follows Mark, and Cesar is also safe.

Gordon approaches Farhan. He berates him for finishing early. Professional chefs “never stand still in any kitchen.” Farhan tells him that he learned efficiency in dental school. Gordon feels efficiency is finishing on time. Anything else is potential over-confidence, lack of attention to detail, or taking the easy way out.

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Gordon doesn’t like the look of the claw meat on Farhan’s platter. And then the show turns into a crime drama. Gordon commands, “lights down!” He then pulls out a black light to examine Farhan’s dish. The black light reveals shell in his meat. He is not safe. Gordon tells him, “when you have time on your hands, double check, double check, and double check again.”

Next up is Gerron. His plate looks good until Joe notices one leg on his station, still in the shell. Gerron explains that his live crab was missing one leg, so he made the decision to leave a leg off his plate for a balanced presentation. Joe tells him that presentation is important but “the most important theme here is that every speck of this crab is utilized. Kind of just shows me where your head is at. Maybe not completely in the game.”

I really disagree with this decision. This was his first time picking crab and he managed a good yield and a clean presentation. He didn’t leave that leg off accidentally. He made a conscious choice based on presentation. He knew yield was important but clearly presentation was as well or they would not have been asked to create a perfectly laid out crab display. Regardless, Gerron is not safe.

The judges approach Shanika, expecting the worst. She explains her allergy and they are a bit more understanding of her trembling, mumbling performance. Despite all that, she has done a good job and she has really impressed Joe. No longer faced with crab, her confidence comes back and she says, “I literally risked my life today. My competitors know now that I am willing to risk anything to get that title. I didn’t come to play. I came to slay.”

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant and host / chef Gordon Ramsay in the all-new ÒGordon Ramsay MasterclassÓ episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 13 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting.

In the end, nine chefs do not pass the challenge. These chefs are Ralph, Ryan, Samantha, Olusola, Darrick, Matt, Stephanie, Farhan, and Gerron. Their elimination challenge is to recreate Gordon’s crab benedict.

Gordon demos the finicky recipe. He first butters an English muffin and toasts it in a cast iron pan. While it toasts, he places a bowl over boiling water and puts egg yolks in the bowl. He whisks the yolks on the heat for 15 seconds, then off the heat. He continues on and off the heat, adding tarragon reduction, butter, seasoning, and lemon juice until he has a thick, luscious hollandaise sauce.

To poach his egg, he puts vinegar into salted water and then stirs the water to create a vortex. Into the vortex he drops a raw egg which gently swirls for 90 seconds to two minutes.

He seasons his crab with salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and chives. He also seasons his newly poached egg.

At last he assembles. First he places the muffin, then a pile of crab followed by the egg, a careful spoonful of hollandaise sauce, and a dash of paprika for color.

The cooks have 30 minutes to plate two perfect crab benedicts, and two cooks will be sent home. Gordon states that the biggest pitfalls are the sauce, which is delicate and hard to perfect, the seasoning, and the poaching of the egg.

Olusola seems to be in the most trouble, poaching at least five eggs, unable to get a perfect egg. She is clearly flustered and losing time.

Too soon, the thirty minutes is up and the judges call each cook forward.

Stephanie’s son is allergic to eggs so she has limited egg cooking experience. Her eggs are cooked well, but her hollandaise has broken, leaving clarified butter on her plate.

Gerron knows his presentation is not perfect. When cut open, his first egg yolk does not flow out. It has partially set due to being overcooked. Earlier he had told Gordon he had no experience with poaching eggs. “We fry eggs hard in the hood!” His second egg is cooked less but this shows inconsistency. His hollandaise is good but his crab needs more lemon and his muffin is inconsistently toasted.

Finally, poor Olusola presents. As she places her efforts down before the judges, Gordon whispers, “damn.” She whispers back, “I already know.”

The cooks had been given a black plate for presenting two benedicts. Olusola has one benedict sitting on napkin on a metal serving tray. With bits of sauce dribbled around, it honestly looks like a plate that got cleared from a brunch table after being partially eaten. To me, her muffin looks blackened and burned.

Apparently, her egg was well-poached, her muffin was not burned, her crab is perfectly seasoned but she clearly has failed the challenge.

All nine approach for final judging. Gerron says, “It’s that feeling of doing something bad and you know you’re in trouble and you have to take that long walk to the principal’s office. My head is hot and my ears are sweating.”

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Ryan, Ralph, Matt, Samantha, Farhan, and Darrick are all safe. That leaves Gerron, Olusola, and Stephanie. To his relief and surprise, Gerron is kept for his “potential, passion, and hunger.” Stephanie goes home for her broken hollandaise and Olusola goes home for her incomplete plate.

Olusola tells us she will drive her bus with her head held high and plans to keep cooking. Stephanie has a message for single moms:  “Don’t let your circumstances define you. You can rise above whatever is going on.”

Next time the cooks have their first team challenge. Will the claws come out? Oh wait. That was today’s challenge!