MasterChef review: Ready to jump into a 10th Season pool party?


In this review of MasterChef, this year’s challenge is last year’s party. The season 10 contestants face their first team challenge, cooking for 100 former MasterChef contestants at a pool party. Who will emerge as a leader and who will water plants?

The episode opens with the judges at a posh villa. Gordon is trimming the hedges in the maze, Aaron is blowing up one of twenty pool floats, and Joe is polishing a giant 10th anniversary sign.

I’m amused as the contestants arrive and Dorian, one of our Georgian contestants, tells us she feels like a “Beverly Hills Billy,” considering that I earlier noted that Noah’s dad reminds me of Jed Clampett. All the contestants receive a giant tropical drink in either a pineapple or a coconut, and I am sure those drinks will be the deciding factor in the creation of teams.

Gordon drives up in what looks like a child’s Rolls Royce and the contestants learn their challenge. They will cook for one hundred former MasterChef contestants and VIP guests. With just one hour to prepare, they will serve three different dishes.

The judges select team captains based on performance in the skill challenge last week in which they prepped onions, eggs, and fish. Red team captain is Sarah and blue team captain is Noah. Sarah gets everyone with a pineapple drink (told you), and Noah gets all the coconut drinkers.

The judges have also decided the menu, picking comparable dishes for each team. Red team will serve fried chicken drumstick with green beans and grilled pineapple, beer battered cod and peas, and a bacon cheeseburger with potato chips. Blue team will serve fried chicken thigh with asparagus and grilled watermelon, coconut crusted cod with cabbage slaw, and a turkey burger with potato chips.

MASTERCHEF: Host/judge Gordon Ramsay in the “10th Season Pool Party!” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX

Sarah has recently retired from the military so she should bring strong leadership and organization to her role. Noah considers himself an “alpha” and says he plans to use direct communication with his team. He also tells us, “I am a grill master but it is not my job to run a grill right now. That’s not where the captain of a ship needs to be.”

I am reminded of young Reid from MasterChef Junior and a fellow Georgian like Noah. Reid also considered himself a grill master and when team captain, attempted to stay on that station. In my opinion, Noah has the right idea. A team captain needs to be the one to keep the team on task, to coordinate everyone’s efforts, and to check everything being produced and you can’t do that from a station.

MASTERCHEF: The blue team in the “10th Season Pool Party!” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX

We see the team captains assign dishes to each person, and I can’t tell if they first asked for peoples’ preferences, or asked after the fact if they can handle the designated dish. Both captains at one point say that they made a mistake in believing that people could handle certain dishes, but we will get to that later.

Noah’s team has Keturah on cod, Sam on chicken, Evan on the turkey burger, and Fred on thai chili sauce. Noah will expedite as team captain. Evan admits he has never cooked a turkey burger and given how bland and lean turkey is, this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

Sarah’s team has Kim and Wuta on chicken, Jamie on fish, and Renee on burgers.

MASTERCHEF: The red team in the “10th Season Pool Party!” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX

Both teams struggle, which is to be expected in their first team challenge. Most of these people have never worked in a restaurant and are unprepared for the pressure and quantity of food they have to produce while also maintaining standards for each serving. Plus, they have never worked as a team before.

Over on the red team, Renee has shaped her burger patties without seasoning the meat. Gordon insists they put all the meat back in the bowl, season the meat and grill a test slider to be sure it is seasoned well before reforming the patties. Sarah assists her in seasoning the meat and we see handfuls of salt go in the bowl.

During the judges’ tasting, the burger is deemed too salty once it has the bacon and cheese on it, so the burgers go back in the bowl again. Sarah adds eggs to the meat to reduce the saltiness and she takes over the grill station from Renee. Renee gets stuck cutting buns and onions. Meanwhile, Sarah is unable to lead her team from the grill station.

During the judges’ tasting, they also note that Kim’s chicken isn’t seasoned well. Later, Gordon stops by and sees that all the breading is falling off the chicken in the fryer. He discovers that Kim has skinned all her chicken. Wuta, a vegetarian, simply followed her lead.

Without skin, the breading won’t stick. Sarah is mortified that Kim removed the skin, but I feel like a leader who is checking on her team would have noticed this.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestants Michael, Sarah and Wuta in the “10th Season Pool Party!” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX

Because they are struggling with burgers and chicken, the red team is scrambling to be ready for the guests. The team begins to panic.

Jamie tells us, “we’re all freaking out because we’re not sure how fast we need to do this or that…everybody’s doing something different, saying something different.” Part of the problem is Sarah being on the grill station. She is not coordinating the team. Instead, she is so focused on grilling that she does not respond to any of her team members or even Gordon when asked questions.

Once service begins, the red team struggles to get out six plates simultaneously, which seems to be the way they are serving as there are six servers. They also have raw chicken get returned by a very irate Joe.

Seeing that the red team is not coming together, Gordon pulls Sarah off the grill and she puts Michael there in her place. The issue is that she doesn’t tell Michael anything about the station. There are burgers on the grill and he has no idea how long they have been there, so he serves raw burgers. Gordon angrily recalls the raw chicken and now the raw beef. “Season 10; season salmonella!”

Over on Noah’s team, things are not much better. Unlike Sarah, Noah never stops communicating. I actually think it is useful and a good strategy, but Sam tells us, “Noah has a unique leadership style. It’s akin to a teacher that everyone hates.” We hear Noah yelling out things like “taste! Move! Oil!” Sam tells us he knows how to cook chicken; it’s not rocket science, and I note down “famous last words.”

As expected, during the judges’ tasting, the chicken is raw. The turkey burger, seasoned with just chili powder, salt and pepper, is bland. Noah immediately takes ownership of the mistakes, which I love. He also acknowledges Keturah’s stellar performance on fish. Taking ownership of mistakes and giving praise for things done well are signs of a good leader, as far as I am concerned, but I may be biased because I think Noah is hilarious.

MASTERCHEF: Contestants Nick and Noah in the “10th Season Pool Party!” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX

Aaron goes to taste Fred’s thai chili sauce and you can see the copious amount of chili in the dish. Aaron calls to Noah, “go over here and taste that. That is really bad.” Noah replies, “OK. Can’t wait to try it.” He has a bit and admits it is hot, but then goes on to describe it as “Mordor lava thai sauce.” “I mean it was like Satan’s *** was sitting on the pot.”

Further issues present on the grill station. Subha is apparently attempting to grill without the grill actually being on. By the way, Noah calls Subha “Subaru,” which I assume is a nickname he gave him and I’m hoping Subha doesn’t mind.

Then Liz is on the grill where she places about thirty buns down to toast all at once, and then promptly burns them. She attempts to scrape off the black with a spatula and Aaron quickly stops her.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestants Subha and Nick in the “10th Season Pool Party!” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX

During service, burgers are lagging and Noah insists that Evan pull burgers off the grill to serve, but of course they are raw. Gordon throws the burger, as he is wont to do. Noah says, “whenever a frickin’ world class chef grabs your food and he turkey burger grenades it against the wall, if that doesn’t wake you the hell up then get the hell out of the kitchen.” Noah takes over on the grill.

I’m not sure where Subha is supposed to be, but we see him wandering around, eating. Noah tells us he is “like a blind person in a round room,” and that he is “literally moving like he has a closed head injury.”

At one point Subha wanders over to Keturah’s fish station and she yells at him for being in the way. Gordon notes this and tells Subha he is “like dog s***, always in the middle of the road” and then sends him off to water plants.

In the end, both teams struggled but Noah’s team wins. All the judges and the entire blue team leap into the pool to celebrate, but later in the kitchen the tone is more somber.

MASTERCHEF: Contestants in the “10th Season Pool Party!” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX

Gordon starts with the red team. He pointedly asks Sarah who her weak performers are but she only names herself. When Gordon asks for people to raise their hand if they messed up, seven out of nine people raise their hand. Gordon is disappointed that she won’t name team members and tells her she has no voice.

Blue, though they won, are told it was an ugly win. Typically the winners are immune from elimination but in this case, the judges want a nomination for someone to cook. Noah tells us that if his team had lost, he would nominate himself.

Since they won, he nominates Subha who promptly protests that isn’t fair. However, when multiple team members yell at you for being in the way and even Gordon sends you out of the kitchen, you must expect a possible repercussion.

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The elimination challenge remains to be seen for the next episode but appears to involve breaking down a chicken while blindfolded? Stay tuned to see who survives this frightening challenge!