MasterChef S9E19 recap: Cooking With Heart


In MasterChef S9E19 recap, the remaining MasterChef cooks have an emotional mystery box where they have to put their heart on a plate. Then they face elimination and must put someone else’s heart on the plate!

We are down to the top five in this MasterChef S9E19 recap. Aaron has just one final cook- Cesar. Joe only has Gerron in the game. Gordon has the most mentees with three left.

The cooks enter to find mystery boxes. Upon lifting them they discover…envelopes. Immediately they recognize the handwriting of loved ones and the tears flow. After reading their letters from loved ones, the cooks must create a dish inspired by the person who left them the letter.

Everyone is free to make anything but has just five minutes in the pantry. While they gather ingredients, Gordon says, “You guys ready? They’re coming. Big smiles.” Gerron is first to come back to the kitchen for his surprise and he literally collapses to the ground, gasping. His fiancé is waiting for him. Ashley finds her dad, Cesar his mom, Samantha her mom. Bowen comes out to see his husband. Holding a shopping basket in each arm, he cutely wraps the baskets around his husband as he attempts to hug him.

After a few moments to reunite, the family is sent to the balcony to watch the action. As usual, the judges circulate. When Gordon speaks with Bowen, we learn that Bowen and his husband proposed to each other at Gordon’s restaurant in Las Vegas. Gordon jokingly says, “Why didn’t you tell me? Text me next time. I’ll get you to the front of the queue.”

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Bowen and family member 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

Another cute exchange happens when Aaron interviews Samantha. She is making a pasta dish that her mom always made for her birthday. Aaron whispers to Samantha, asking who makes the better pasta, and then he yells out to her mom, “she says her farfalle is better than yours!” Samantha’s mom adorably responds, “of course hers is better!”

When time is called, Gerron has the honor of being the first judged. He has made his mom’s recipe for potato soup with herb infused oil, bacon, sour cream, croutons, and chives. This is the first dish he made for his fiancé and he credits it with winning her over. I’ve never seen a beautifully plated potato soup but Gerron has created an elegant presentation, and the judges love it. Gordon would just like a bit of stock to thin the soup and make it easier to eat a lot more of it.

Bowen comes up next with his pan-seared pork chop with sautéed peppers, pepper sauce, beets and cauliflower puree. I would like to see Bowen make a dish without a cauliflower puree as he adds it to basically every plate. Pork is his husband’s favorite, which inspired the dish. His pork is well-cooked and moist, and his sauce is well-balanced.

Third up is Samantha. She has made farfalle with a vodka cream sauce, mushrooms, and fried basil. Her pasta has a perfect texture and the addition of vodka to her mother’s traditional cream sauce has added depth.

We would normally stop with the top three, but the judges will review each dish today. Cesar comes up with his pork and potato tacos with homemade flour tortillas and pineapple habanero salsa. This was inspired by a dish his mom would make. Ashley comes up last with a dish her dad would make for her- brined and grilled pork chop with sweet potato puree and buttermilk biscuits.

As delicious as they sound, I can see why Cesar and Ashley were called up last. Both went truly home-style and their dishes did not seem as elevated or as elegantly plated as the top three. Ashley has piped her sweet potatoes into a ramakin which has somehow given her plate a cafeteria feel to me.

In any case, Bowen wins the round and a key advantage. The family members come back down for a fond farewell before the elimination challenge.

Bowen goes to the pantry for his advantage and is confronted by five cloches. Each contains a heart, and Bowen will assign a heart to each cook, including himself. The choices are lamb, tuna, duck, beef, and artichoke. Clearly, artichoke is the easiest ingredient. Tuna heart is minerally and bitter and the hardest to deal with.

Bowen elects the artichoke heart and I wonder if this will be a case of self-sabotage. Often I see cooks select an easy ingredient and then fail. With an easier ingredient, the judges will expect more- a perfect cook, an innovate use. And yet, with a common ingredient, it is easy to get stuck considering only the typical applications. It is harder to think outside the box with a familiar ingredient.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Cesar (L) and host / judge Gordon Ramsay 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

Unsurprisingly, he gives Cesar the tuna heart. “You think you’re so great; prove it.” Initially Cesar is completely stumped, but like any good chef, he considers what he knows and how to apply it to this foreign ingredient. Having seen tuna in many Asian dishes, he decides to go outside of his comfort zone for an Asian inspired dish.

Samantha, Ashley, and Gerron go through a similar thought process. Gerron has the enormous beef heart and has decided that it reminds him of liver and onions, so he is going that route. Samantha knows that duck loves fruit, so she is trying that trick with her duck heart. Ashley is inspired by the lamb in Moroccan cuisine and is making a Moroccan spiced lamb heart.

Bowen admits that he has never cooked or eaten artichoke before. He has decided to make an Asian dish, as per usual, and just add some artichokes. I am disappointed that he is not doing more.

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  • Bowen’s artichoke salad with quail egg, cabbage roll and shrimp is first to be judged. His cabbage rolls are stuffed with mushrooms so the artichoke is really just a supporting flavor and not the star of his dish. Gordon is disappointed that is it not artichoke forward, and even more disappointed that he selected the easiest ingredient. He would have liked to see Bowen take on a challenge and send a message to the other competitors.

    Cesar brings forward his tuna heart kebobs with sesame rice and roasted mushrooms. Bowen asked him to prove himself and he did. Somehow, he has taken that dark, cone-shaped oddity and tamed the intense flavor. Gordon praises him, telling him “you cook, sound, and look like a chef.”

    Samantha is up next and she is not happy with her plating. She laments that it looks like she went to a buffet and just took a little of everything. Her plate does present as spoonfuls of items just sitting next to each other. Her grilled duck heart with brown rice, cranberry compote, and cabbage slaw is tasty but her plating has let her down.

    Ashley’s fried lamb heart with couscous, roasted vegetables, and tomato ragu is well-received. Gerron’s beef heart with onions, herb-potato mash, sautéed cabbage, and stewed tomatoes tastes wonderful but Gordon tells him his presentation is rock-bottom.

    Ashley, Cesar and Bowen are all safe. Gordon tells Gerron and Samantha that he will say the name of the contestant that is safe. We are at the point in the competition where plating can send you home and both have plated badly. Gordon says Samantha’s name and she scampers to the balcony. He then says Gerron’s name and asks why it is taking him so long to go to the balcony too. In a surprise twist, no one is sent home as they all had great flavors.

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    So we remain with a top five. Next week on a two-hour episode we will see them challenged with a series of tests that lead to the semi-finals. Who will survive to move on? Very little separates these five in terms of skill, so a simple stumble could be all that sends someone home.