MasterChef S9E18: Restaurant Takeover


In  MasterChef S9E18, the top six take over a Michelin star restaurant, and then they face an incredibly challenging elimination.

During the MasterChef S9E18 recap, the episode opens as the remaining home cooks approach Providence, a beautiful restaurant in LA which boasts two Michelin stars. This is the first Michelin star restaurant takeover in MasterChef history. The cooks are quickly divided into two teams. Red will be captained by Ashley and includes Cesar and Bowen. Blue is captained by Gerron and includes Farhan and Samantha. Ashley and Gerron have sort of been coasting in the middle- sometimes doing very well, sometimes on the bottom- so this is a real chance for them to step into the spotlight.

The menu has been set by Michael Cimarusti, co-owner and chef. Appetizers are pan-seared scallops with carrots and baby shitake mushrooms as well as roasted king salmon with kombu cured vegetables. Entrees include duck breast with a side of turnip stuffed with truffled duck sausage. They will also serve a Wagyu New York strip loin, basted in Wagyu fat, served with a relish of pickled ramps and roasted green tomato. Michael demonstrates plating all the dishes, each with numerous steps. Everything is tweezer plated with beautiful precision.

Gordon will be expediting. Joe will walk the restaurant, interviewing diners. Aaron will jump onto the line to assist when needed.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestants Farhan, Samantha, Gerron, Ashley, Bowen and Cesar in the “Restaurant Takeover/Cooking with Heart” two-hour episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, Aug. 29 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2018 FOX

All in all, things go shockingly well with little drama. On the blue team, Samantha is the weakest link. Initially, she is overcooking, then undercooking scallops. Aaron ultimately has to step in to help them get their scallops cooked properly. They also struggle with the salmon appetizer as their timing is off. They slice the salmon before the garnishes are ready, leaving their salmon to dry out while they prepare the plate.

On the red team, Bowen struggles the most. He has taken the careful plating to the extreme and is holding up the entire team. Gordon tells Ashley, “my Grandma has more vigor in her and she’s dead.” Again, Aaron has to step in to assist.

Going into entrees, Gerron has decided to cook all proteins himself to ensure quality. Ashley, on the other hand, has Cesar cook all proteins while Bowen is on vegetables and she plates. Ashley’s strategy seems to be the better one as it allows her the time to monitor the team overall and also lets her inspect every plate for quality. Gerron is so busy cooking proteins that he often doesn’t seem to be aware of issues with the rest of the team.

Samantha is again the weak link for the blue team, forgetting the orders that Gordon calls. While Gerron cranks out proteins, Farhan and Samantha lag with plating so his meat becomes over-rested. On the red team, Bowen is frazzled as usual so Ashley watches him carefully, but Cesar’s proteins are all cooked to perfection and the red team serves all its diners while blue lags behind.

In the end, no dishes are sent back and the diners seem to enjoy the food. The only complaints are occasional long waits. The judges seem to feel it was a close call as they are not prepared to announce the winning team that night. The next day, the judges tell both team captains that they did a great job but in the end, red team is safe. That means Gerron, Farhan and Samantha will face the pressure test.

The judges announce that this test is the toughest ever seen in the MasterChef kitchen, and I don’t doubt it. The cooks have just one hour to create three tricky chocolate desserts, one for each judge. Joe wants a white chocolate panna cotta with raspberry coulis. In any timed cooking competition I have ever watched, panna cotta is always a very daring choice and has sent many contestants home. Panna cotta uses gelatin to set. You must figure out the exact amount of gelatin to use to set it just enough in the time allowed without making it rubbery.

Aaron wants a fluffy whipped chocolate mousse with what looks like a chocolate crumb underneath and a tuille on top. Here the trick is to avoid the mousse seizing or being too loose. Gordon wants a dark chocolate molten lava cake. You need to cook this just enough to result in a hot, liquid center. Too little cooking and the thin cooked layer will collapse on itself. Too much cooking and the center will cook through.

Amazingly, all three get their dishes plated within the hour. The judges start with the molten lava cake. They taste each one, making few comments to the cooks other than “did you taste that?” Regardless, you can see that Farhan has not done well. His cake sits collapsed on the plate, and Gordon refuses to taste it as the center is basically raw, cold batter. It seems Gerron has done very well. Samantha’s cake is better, being more liquidy than Gerron’s, but she lacks garnish. Farhan has essentially failed to create the dish, so he seems to be in trouble after this round.

Next is the mousse tasting. Gerron’s mousse is again very good, though he lacks garnish. Samantha’s mousse is a puddle on her plate. It seems her chocolate was too hot when she added it. Farhan’s mousse is good and he has gotten all the garnishes on his plate. It seems Samantha has lost this round.

Finally, the judges taste the panna cotta. Gerron’s is clearly good as he earns a fist bump from Aaron. Samantha’s panna cotta seems good, though her coulis has not set on top. Farhan’s panna cotta and coulis are both over-set. Joe dramatically holds the dish upside down to show it won’t move, and he bounces his spoon off the coulis repeatedly. He even smoothly lifts the coulis off the panna cotta in one jelly-like sheet. Farhan seems to be the loser here as well.

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So, if we are tallying points, Gerron has clearly done well in all the rounds. Samantha has clearly lost the mousse round, while Farhan has lost the lava cake and panna cotta rounds. It is no surprise that the judges announce Gerron as the winner and sadly, send Farhan home. However, Aaron tells him he won’t let the mentoring stop in the MasterChef kitchen. He offers him the chance to come to any of his restaurants in New Orleans so that he can continue to learn.

Up next- a heart-felt episode full of tears, love, and a decidedly unromantic ingredient.