MasterChef Season 10 episode 9 review: Tag Team Tears and Tantrums


In this review of MasterChef, a big helping of drama is served with a side of cooking. Two hopefuls will go home. Who is out in this game of tag?

Picking up from last time, Nick’s team has won the team challenge and earned immunity. Michael’s team faces the elimination challenge- the dreaded tag team. Nick’s bonus reward for captaining the winning team is to select the teams for the elimination challenge.

Nick approaches his selections in a strategic way. He starts by pairing Sam and Shari. He explains that they are both soft-spoken so he thinks their communication will break down. He then pairs Dorian and Subha and the drama begins.

Unlike some reality TV viewers, I hate drama. I avoid it in life as in my entertainment so this episode was painful to watch. If the producers were hoping for fireworks, this pairing is the perfect match.

Dorain tells everyone, Subha included, that being paired with him is sabotage. She goes on to say that “the only way Subha and I will be able to beat this is if Subha can take direction and ask questions.” Nick replies, “if Subha is managed correctly in the kitchen, he’s probably one of the strongest cooks here.” Subha thanks him.

MASTERCHEF: Contestants Subha in the all-new “Tag Team Tears & Tantrums” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Thursday, July 11 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

There is so much that is wrong with this exchange for me. Telling your team member that you consider them nothing more than a speed bump is no way to start a team. Everyone agreeing that Subha needs to be managed, directed, and basically treated like a toddler irks me. And then Subha’s thank you…he clearly is thanking Nick for calling him a strong cook but this comes after yet another comment that he needs to be told what to do.

To be fair, I’ve had my own concerns about Subha. We have seen him be unfocused, moving without purpose in challenges. Dorian says he gets flustered under pressure, but it more seems like he is just a laid back guy who loves to cook at home. I get what Dorian and Nick are saying, but pointedly undermining a team mate before the challenge just doesn’t seem to be a good strategy.

Moving on, Nick pairs Noah and Sarah. He considers them to be the “alpha male” and “alpha female” of the competition so he is hoping they will shout each other down in a power play and fail as a team. This leaves Michael and Liz paired up by default. All Nick says to them is that he wants to see intensity from them as he hasn’t seen that yet.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestants Sarah and Noah in the all-new “Tag Team Tears & Tantrums” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Thursday, July 11 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

Gordon goes on to explain the challenge. MasterChef airs around the world with numerous international versions. The teams are tasked with creating an international platter inspired by some of the sister shows. Their platter must showcase a pork spring roll from the Philippines, vegetable samosas with mint chutney from India, meatballs from Italy, fish tacos with pico de gallo from Mexico, beef skewers from Morocco, and pork dumplings from China.

None of these are terribly hard dishes to create, but that adds up to six dishes to juggle. On top of that, they are fighting the clock and the chaos of switching between cooks over and over. To make things worse, each team must add their own seventh dish. They have just seventy-five minutes to get all this done.

Before their time starts, they are given a few minutes to decide their seventh dish and to grab ingredients for it. Noah immediately recommends lamb lollipops. I think he is considering something he can grill, as that is his forte, as well as a protein not represented on the platter. My concern is if they can prepare the lamb in time. Sarah had her own ideas but agrees with Noah’s plan.

Shari, after reminding us that she has been on every losing team so far, recommends they grab a potato and make tater tots. I admit; I am semi-mortified. Not only do I not consider tater tots a dish or MasterChef quality, but the samosas are potato filled. Sam tells her that this idea is weak and counters with sliders.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Shari in the all-new “Tag Team Tears & Tantrums” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Thursday, July 11 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

Michael recommends shrimp tempura with a ponzu sauce. Liz, who admits that she has never made anything on the platter, agrees. Subha recommends coconut Caribbean shrimp with Indian spices. I do not hear any conversation from Dorian about the dish.

For the most part, we don’t see a lot of the interaction of the teams. Noah and Sarah, despite Nick’s hopes, are incredibly supportive, calm, and communicative. The lamb does put them behind a bit as the lollipops need careful cleaning before cooking. They do have to rush in the end and probably should have pushed each other more throughout.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestants Sam and Shari in the all-new “Tag Team Tears & Tantrums” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Thursday, July 11 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

Another “too nice” team is Shari and Sam. Shari admits that she has this exact worry. She fears that they are both too nice to push each other and she proves correct. They drastically run out of time and end up deleting their sliders all together. Michael and Liz fall behind as well, with Michael feeling the weight of the work falls on his shoulders. Liz admitted earlier that she had never made any of these things and it has really slowed them down.

The majority of our time, much to my despair, is spent with the train wreck that is Dorian and Subha. Subha is first to cook and Dorian immediately begins to freak out. She quickly moves into yelling at him and that devolves into her literally stomping her feet, shaking her hands in the air, and swearing.

Dorian has repeatedly told us she thinks that Subha gets flustered under pressure. Yelling and swearing is not going to help that. Also, I seem to remember that Subha came to the US from India so English may not be his first language. Furthermore, Subha has already proven that his comfort level is Indian, and he is not familiar with all the dishes they need to make. When she is screaming loud and fast directions, I honestly am not sure he even understands her.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant Dorian and host/judge Gordon Ramsay in the all-new “Tag Team Tears & Tantrums” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Thursday, July 11 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

When it is Dorian’s turn to cook, she has gotten so worked up that she is angrily slamming things around while also swearing and crying. There’s no way she can cook food in this emotional state. Gordon sees this and goes to calm her down so she can function. Gordon also takes time to talk calmly with Subha, telling him to focus on his strengths such as making the samosas, and Subha does seem to calm his movements and focus, at least for a little while. At the end of the cook, Subha is trying to help them cook tortillas as time is running out, but Dorian is demanding, yelling, and flailing around on the sidelines so he drops a tortilla on the floor.

I guess what I am saying is that Dorian did not help herself or her team. I fully agree that Subha has flaws in the kitchen. He does not move with focus, purpose or speed. He does not seem interested in leadership. He is overly comfortable with his Indian cuisine at the expense of other kinds of food. But screaming, swearing, and having a literal tantrum are not going to motivate him, guide him through unfamiliar recipes, or help him focus. Getting that worked up also affects her own ability to cook, further putting them behind.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestants Michael and Liz in the all-new “Tag Team Tears & Tantrums” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Thursday, July 11 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

At last this horrible challenge is over. Michael and Liz present first and it does not go well. The fish for their taco is raw. Their samosas are a weird shape and are made of raw dough and mushy potatoes. Their pot stickers have not been crimped closed due to time constraints and they are drenched in sesame oil. Their spring roll and beef skewer are both too aggressively seasoned. Their meatballs are hard and dry. Their seventh dish, the shrimp tempura which was meant to have a homemade ponzu sauce, now has a mix of sriracha and soy sauce. Of the sauce, Joe says, “you can’t come up here and fake it and put sriracha and just soy sauce in a thing and tell us it’s a sauce. Please respect our intelligence and don’t bring us crap.” If you are keeping score, the judges dislike all seven of their dishes.

Next up are Noah and Sarah. In general, their platter is mostly complete and mostly receives compliments. They are missing a dipping sauce for their pot stickers, mango salsa for their tacos, and their meatballs needed longer to simmer in the marinara, but otherwise, they fare much better than Michael and Liz.

Now the moment I have been dreading, Dorian and Subha’s critique. Gordon asks what on Earth happened to their team. Dorian replies, “he just gets flustered under pressure. I would have to run in and get us caught up and then he would check out.” This is milder than I expected from her, though if you are worried about how flustered someone is, I still recommend not screaming swear words at them.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant Subha with Judges Joe Bastianich and Aarón Sánchez in the all-new “Tag Team Tears & Tantrums” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Thursday, July 11 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

Subha rebuts, “from the beginning, we went in with the attitude that we are going to fail.” Gordon, wondering if this flame could use some gasoline, asks, “who went in with the attitude that you were going to fail? Was that Dorian?” Subha says, “as soon as we started, she got emotional, she started to cry.” Gordon adds yet more fuel, “so you were positive and she was negative?” At this point, I can almost see smoke coming out of Dorian’s ears and I would not be surprised if her head exploded like a cartoon character. I am impressed and amazed that she says nothing in return.

Their critique begins and goes much better than anyone could expect. The samosas are nice and seasoned well. The pot stickers lack a sauce but are delicious and colored on both sides. The spring rolls are cooked through and again the seasoning is good. The skewers have a good char while also being medium rare. The meatball sauce is delicious. Dorian takes credit, fairly or not, for almost all the dishes. The seventh dish appears to be firmly Subha’s as he describes it. The Caribbean shrimp with Indian spices are a hit. They love the flavor.

Sam and Shari are up last. Their time management issues show when their pot sticker has raw pork inside. Their taco is missing the salsa, their spring rolls are badly formed, their meatball spent little time simmering, their beef skewers lack a sauce, and they are the only team without a seventh dish.

Clearly Noah and Sarah have won. Given the good comments, it is no surprise that Dorian and Subha are safe. Joe comments that their seasoning and spices are great, and that “you can taste Subha’s contribution.” As Subha and Dorian reach the balcony, she hugs him, I think in an effort to sort of apologize and move on. Bless Subha’s heart, he tells her to be positive. I am sure he simply wants her to believe in herself and him, but I imagine she sees this as one last time of blaming her for their near failure. Her jaw tightens and I am sure she considers throwing him over the balcony.

Out of our final two teams, Sam and Shari have done just enough to pass, whereas every dish that Michael and Liz presented had flaws. Michael and Liz are eliminated, but they would make Subha proud as they remain positive and hug each other goodbye outside of the kitchen.

So what do you think? Do you love the drama or prefer to focus on cooking? Did you think that Dorian was justified in her behavior? Is there anything she could have done to help the team, or is Subha just a lost cause?