MasterChef Season 10 episode 6 review – Hot and Spicy


In this review of MasterChef, a veritable angel curates mystery box ingredients. Who will fly and who will fall?

The top seventeen enter the MasterChef kitchen to spy mystery boxes waiting on their stations. Gordon introduces today’s special guest, Alessandra Ambrosio, a Brazilian model and actress who has worked with Victoria’s Secret for years. Season ten has promised big name guests and it seems we have started the lineup.

Alessandra is there to introduce the mystery box. As a Brazilian, she is looking for Latin-American inspired dishes that feature fresh ingredients, acidic citrus notes and plenty of spice. Her mystery box (full of “Secrets”) contains skirt steak, red snapper, octopus, prawns and swordfish.

The cooks will have an hour to create a dish featuring one or more of the proteins. The pantry has some added treats which appear to include plantains, nopales, Spanish chorizo, radishes, and other Latin American ingredients.

The clock starts and we learn a bit about our contestants as they interview about their dish. Bri has a degree in Spanish. Nick usually cooks on an illegal induction burner in his Harvard dorm. Keturah is the child of a diplomat and has lived in sixteen countries. Sam is missing his son’s first birthday to be here. Michael gave up a trip to Puerto Vallarta to be a contestant. Renee admits she is wearing Victoria’s Secret, much to Gordon’s embarrassment.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Special guest Alessandra Ambrosio and judge Aarón Sánchez in the “Hot & Spicy” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 26 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Michael Becker/ FOX.

As they cook, I see a few red flags. Renee appears to be cutting the skin off her red snapper, and not only that, she is leaving so much flesh that I wonder if she isn’t instead cutting it in half. I can’t imagine why you would take the skin off.  Liz plans to bake her swordfish, which is an odd preparation and the judges warn her about overcooking.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant Sam, judge Joe Bastianich, host/judge Gordon Ramsay and judge Aarón Sánchez in the “Hot & Spicy” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 26 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Michael Becker/ FOX.

A few contestants are working with yucca. Yucca is tricky to cook and though a starch, can’t be treated exactly like a potato. Wuta plans to boil his yucca and the judges heavily recommend he do more to it than that. Noah is over there beating the heck out of his yucca which is going to make it gummy. But all of this pales in comparison to the judges’ interaction with Evan.

In the past, I have noticed a little bit of back talk from Evan during judging. A comment about disagreeing with the judges, a quietly spoken protest. Today, that level of protest burst out into full-blown defensiveness.

Joe asks him how he plans to cook his skirt steak and he motions to a non-stick pan. Aaron recommends a grill pan or cast iron for the superior char. Evan bristles, “the first steak I cooked you gentlemen, which won me my apron, was cooked in non-stick.” Aaron attempts to explain that non-stick isn’t bad but Evan cuts him off. “Well, if it wasn’t that good I wouldn’t be here.”

Typed up, the words don’t look so bad but his tone is so defensive and almost angry that he offends the judges. Aaron tells him, “Ok, you know what Evan? You don’t have to bust our balls.” Evan doubles down and says “I’ve cooked well over one hundred pounds of skirt steak in my day.” When spoken to a seasoned chef like Aaron, this just comes off as a cocky, misplaced brag.

Joe has had enough. “Remember something. As in life, in the MasterChef kitchen, the s*** that you dole out will come back at you.”

At this point, my experience with reality TV tells me Evan’s dish will get singled out later and it will be solely to prove that he should have used a different pan. Regardless of what happens with this dish, the MasterChef judges are looking for cooks who can listen and learn. One of the prizes is training in each of their restaurants. They aren’t going to waste that on someone who refuses to listen. If his attitude doesn’t change, Evan will not succeed in this competition. One way or another, I feel like Evan has effectively put a target on his back.

With thirty minutes left on the clock, the judges announce a twist. Everyone must also make a ceviche. Though not cooked, the ceviche will require plenty of knife work so this causes a fair amount of panic. As time winds down, many cooks are behind. With 90 seconds called, Sam is separating eggs. Noah is in the pantry. Michael is still frying. Somehow, they all manage to finish in the nick of time.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Noah in the “Hot & Spicy” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 26 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Michael Becker/ FOX.

The judges visit each station but we don’t get more than a few words, at most, for each. Gordon tells everyone “there are three dishes tonight that Joe, Aaron and myself really want to highlight- Sam, Liz and Fred.” Excited to be called out, their faces light up and then fall as Gordon continues, “you three have the worst dishes of the night.”

Liz did bake her swordfish, not taking the hints from the judges that baking was a bad move. Her swordfish looks like a pork chop and the judges tell her to never bake swordfish again. Sam tried to grill corn but it remains uncooked. Fred served the seeds from his cactus, thinking they would add texture, but they are in fact inedible.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Freddy in the “Hot & Spicy” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 26 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Michael Becker/ FOX.

Gordon now says they want to take a deeper look at several dishes and that the top three will earn immunity. This is a slightly different format as they usually call up just the top three. Because of this, I am convinced that this is a chance for them to bring up Evan as one of the several so they can berate him for his refusal to listen.

First up is Evan. As everyone applauds and tells him good job, I am sure he is going to the principal’s office for punishment, not reward. He tells us he feels super confident and I am even more sure he is about to get dressed down.

He presents his chipotle marinated skirt steak with torched corn salad and snapper ceviche. I’ll be honest. I didn’t like his plating. Everything is laid out on the plate in its own area the way you would if you were filling your plate from the buffet- a little of this here in this corner, a little of that over here. There is no height to his plate which really removes it from fine dining and places it squarely in home cook territory.

Not only that, but his steak looks really dark and is not sliced, which seems weird. He has done a play on surf and turf but there is only one shrimp on the plate. I would not be happy to get a surf and turf with one small surf. His ceviche looks very wet, almost like soup given the amount of liquid in the cup.

I gear myself up for the judges’ critique and then hear Gordon say the plate pops visually. The judges go on to rave about the acidity, seasoning, and cook. They love the ceviche. They briefly mention that they think a different pan would have been even better but otherwise, he has no fallout at all from his outburst. Apparently all my years of TV watching and armchair judging have gotten me nowhere as this is the opposite of everything I expected.

Michael comes up next with his grilled prawn with passion fruit and pear salsa and snapper ceviche with kumquat. His plating is beautiful- colorful and precise. The judges call the dish vibrant but wish for more seasoning and spice.

Shari has stepped away from the curry to create pan-fried red snapper with salsa verde, nopales salad and cilantro lime rice, as well as shrimp ceviche. He judges love her dish, especially her ceviche. They are very impressed that she managed to use the cactus so well and that she stepped out of her comfort zone.

Nick comes up next with his Brazilian cheese bread taco with grilled skirt steak, corn salsa, and snapper ceviche. Normally Brazilian cheese bread is a puffy roll, but he appears to have made a batter and fried it to create taco shells. On his tacos, he has placed a shrimp aioli made with the juice from the prawn heads so he has effectively made a play on surf and turf. The judges love his creativity, presentation, and the flavor of his tacos but find his ceviche has too much scotch bonnet pepper.

Bri brings up her pan-seared snapper with cilantro coconut foam and red snapper ceviche. I am disappointed that her main dish and ceviche have the same protein but the judges make no comment. The judges question her very small portions and her use of roasted potatoes. The potatoes don’t seem to work with her elegant, light plating.

Wuta, our vegetarian, has made pan-seared swordfish with black beans and yucca puree and a swordfish ceviche. The judges are impressed that he has elevated humble ingredients like beans and yucca and they love his ceviche.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Wuta in the “Hot & Spicy” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, June 26 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Michael Becker/ FOX.

After deliberation, the judges announce they each have a favorite. Gordon selects Shari for getting out of her Indian comfort zone. Aaron selects Nick for his celebration of Latin American ingredients. Joe picks Wuta for his bold flavors and technique. So here we get a peek in their heads and what they value- bravery for Gordon, Latin American flavors for Aaron, and technique for Joe.

Shari, Nick and Wuta head to the balcony to watch the elimination round. Evan tells us he should be on the balcony and they are really trying to paint him as a bit of a villain. The elimination challenge, airing tomorrow, will feature a dessert and lots of fire.

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Whose dream will go sour during the dessert challenge? Will Evan learn to listen, or will his attitude catch up with him?