MasterChef S9E11: The Kids Are Alright


In this week’s MasterChef recap, the top fourteen must fill a tall order for some short clients. Then a former judge brings on a sweet challenge. Who goes home this time?

The MasterChef kitchen looks different tonight. Tables are set for a full service restaurant! The remaining home cooks will divide into two teams and they need to create “an entrée worthy of a fine dining restaurant.” The winning dish will be featured in the October issue of Family Circle magazine.

SJ and Julia, having won the team challenge last time, are made the team captains. They have very different strategies in selecting teams. Julia clearly wants to lead. She wants cooks who are “going to work together, communicate, and not feel like they’re know-it-alls. I don’t want any drama in the kitchen.” SJ, on the other hand, says he plans to pick “little mini-captains” and seems to be going for more of a team effort and less of a leadership role.

MASTERCHEF: Host / chef Gordon Ramsay (C) with contestants in the “Kids Are Alright” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, August 1 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: FOX / FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting.

Julia selects Ralph, Farhan, Taylor, Chelsea, and Ashley. SJ selects Mark, Gerron, Cesar, Samantha, Emily, and Bowen, which puts Shanika on Julia’s team by default as last picked. Julia expresses concern about Shanika. “She tends to think all of her ideas are right and she’s very strong-willed.”

The cooks are warned that they are making entrees for “some of the toughest, some of the most refined, experienced, revered palates in all of the land.” Who says, “all of the land,” Joe? In any case, the pressure is on. Each team has a crate full of exceptional ingredients to use and both teams quickly decide on steak as their protein. Julia’s team will tackle filet mignon. SJ’s team is using New York strip.

Julia quickly designates a station for each team member- Farhan on steak, Taylor and Shanika on broccolini, Ashley and Chelsea on a squash puree. Given the disaster of Ashley’s missing carrot puree in the team challenge last week, I cringe when I hear that she is making puree again. SJ is directing his team less, instead telling them all to check in with him frequently.

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  • The teams have ninety minutes to cook and with about forty minutes left, the special guests arrive. Into the MasterChef kitchen pours a crowd of six to nine-year-olds, all dressed for a night out in gowns, suits and ties. The teams have been planning fine dining for adults so now they need to think on their feet and adjust for children’s palates.

    Julia decides they will cook their steak to medium well, they will sweeten their puree, and they will add a parmesan tuille. Gordon warns her that parmesan is not necessarily a kid friendly cheese. He also notes that Farhan is cooking the steaks unevenly.

    When asked about his menu, SJ can’t even recite it. Mark steps in to explain what they have planned and it is full of things that sound like kid kryptonite to me- asparagus, leeks, roasted mushrooms, truffles, béarnaise sauce. When asked how he is adjusting that menu for the kids, SJ indicates he doesn’t plan to adjust at all.

    With a little pressure from Aaron, SJ agrees to remove the truffles. Joe and Aaron then note that Mark is making his béarnaise without a double boiler. Mark insists it is how they do it at their restaurant, frustrating Aaron and Joe who insist that there is a right way to make the sauce and that is not it. Seeing this, SJ wants to change the sauce but Emily insists there is no time. They will make it less acidic but will serve the béarnaise.

    MASTERCHEF: Host / chef Gordon Ramsay (C) in the “Kids Are Alright” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, August 1 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: FOX / FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting.

    Frantic plating commences. Julia has decided to plate her puree in the form of three smiley faces on the plate. Shanika whole-heartedly disagrees. “If your dish goes into the magazine, do you want it to have a smiley face, captain?” Julia is predisposed to not want to hear from Shanika. “If it’s for a six-year-old, yes! Are you a six-year-old? Have you ever been on a winning team, Shanika, because I’ve been on two. Just saying.”

    Hearing the ruckus, Gordon steps in, sees the plating and tells Julia it is amateurish. “Told ya,” Shanika says off camera. Julia begrudgingly decides to plate the puree in a circle around the plate.

    The judges stop SJ’s team from plating their sauce which is runny and potentially undercooked. Samantha pipes up that they need to leave off the sauce and tells Mark to help them slice meat instead. SJ remains silent throughout.

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    Julia’s team presents a filet mignon with butternut squash puree, broccolini, creamed leaks, and a parmesan crisp. SJ’s team serves a New York strip steak with crispy potatoes, asparagus, and wild mushrooms.

    I am delighted by the kids as they comment that the puree is too sweet, the steak is overcooked, and SJ’s team really needs a sauce. In the end, Julia’s team wins with sixty-six percent of the votes.

    Gordon asks SJ’s team what happened. Bowen explains that Mark thinks he knows everything, that he is done learning. They all seem frustrated that he refused to correct his technique in making the béarnaise sauce. Mark admits that his arrogance may have gotten in the way.

    Joe, his mentor, interrupts. “We had a deal! You were going to listen to me and together we were going to take you to the finale. Well, you just decided to take your own road. You are in MasterChef. If you are directed to do something properly and you choose not to do it then I don’t know if I made the right decision in investing my apron in you.

    Gordon announces they will all face “a pressure test so daunting that we needed to invite another judge to join us.” Christina Tosi, former MasterChef judge, owner of Milk Bar, cookbook author, baker presents the challenge. The cooks will need to make twelve perfect cupcakes, and the final judgement is entirely in Christina’s hands. Mark is frankly relieved as she does not know his history of stubbornness.

    Seventy-five minutes later, everyone has their cupcake boxes prepared except for Mark, who runs up at the last second.

    Emily is judged first. Her cupcakes are beautiful and uniform. She’s made a chocolate cupcake with salted caramel in the center and a chai buttercream. She also has a lemon cupcake with a perfectly bruleed merengue topping. Her cupcakes are a hit.

    Bowen decided to be bold with three flavors- green tea, tiramisu, and vanilla. While they are not perfectly presented, they are well-baked.

    MASTERCHEF: Contestant Samantha in the “Kids Are Alright” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, August 1 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: FOX / FOX. © 2018 FOX Broadcasting.

    Samantha presents a beautiful box with bright pink frosting and a single raspberry perched on top. This is a recipe that she has used in competition before- and won. Her cake is filled with lemon curd and has raspberry buttercream on top. The judges rave about her cupcakes, calling them unreal.

    Gerron was inspired by his mom and made a banana walnut cupcake with a vanilla bourbon icing. Unfortunately, his batter is dense and brownie-like, with no rise. Christina tells him they are starchy and under-baked, and Gordon says it is one of his weakest performances.

    Cesar is also inspired by home with his ginger, cinnamon, and clove cake with cardamom cream cheese icing and spicy pistachios. He has used raw ginger which has made the cake a little too spicy, but the judges love that it “has a perspective.”

    SJ’s cakes are lovely with piped dollops of frosting. He’s made a vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting, bruleed banana, candied hazelnuts, and a honey butter drizzle.

    Finally, Mark presents his cakes. He was inspired by a drink served in his family restaurant with strawberry, lemongrass, and mint flavors. He admits, laughing, that they are not all in the box. I assume this is a nervous laugh but it only contributes to his general air of arrogance. He is missing five cupcakes from his box. His piping is sloppy, and the strawberries in the middle have leached water into the cake. His frosting is too wet and has too much sugar.

    It doesn’t seem like the judging could get worse, and then Gordon tells him, “you’re becoming unteachable. You’re not prepared to listen.”

    Samantha has clearly won the cupcake test when Christina tells her she will dream about her cakes. Emily, Bowen, SJ, and Cesar join her on the balcony, leaving Gerron and Mark to face elimination.

    Unsurprisingly, Mark is the one to go home. As he leaves, he admits that he doesn’t know it all, but also asserts that the judges will be sitting down in his restaurant by the time he is twenty-five.

    Next. The Grill Dads share their favorite comfort foods. dark

    Next week the judges get involved in the cooking, and it looks like the pressure test may allow the cooks to choose savory or sweet.