Reprinted with permission from www.healthywaytocook.com
A cooking competition for home cooks where contestants are subjected to extreme and often ridiculous challenges? Sign me up! Well, sign me up to watch. One of these cooks will be awarded a block of glass with “Master Chef” carved on the front, a quarter of a million dollars, and their own cookbook. The rest get novelty aprons. The hopefuls stream in, loaded down with ingredients and crushable dreams, and those dreams will be crushed by judges Graham Elliott, Joe Bastianich, and Gordon Ramsay. So who are these contestants? Let’s find out.
Natasha is young a stay-at-home mom who teeters around in heels. After one hour in the kitchen, she has five minutes to prep skirt steak and empanadas in front of the judges. Gordon tastes it and asks, “is that the best you can do?” She gets a unanimous apron.
Nineteen-year-old Christine is a bakery assistant in San Diego who has big dreams. She’s cooking Korean duck with kalbi marinade. Gordon pulls a giant string of fat off of the duck before eating it, and Joe gives her an icy glare. No apron for Christine.
Ostrich, wild bear, fried water bugs, rabbit, and Gordon vomits out the water bugs. None of them earn aprons. Then, there’s Brian who specializes in road kill. He is preparing shaved, stripped, Cajun beaver tail and frog chips for the judges. He slices the tail open and filets it before throwing it on the grill. He’s got crazy eyes that betray his desperation. Joe’s out, Gordon love it, and Graham gives him the apron.
Jordan is a delivery truck driver and prepares cilantro mint ancho chile tostada and puts together a very pretty looking plate. Graham calls it “so damned good and refined,” Gordon is a huge yes, and Joe says it’s the best opening dish they’ve ever seen. As Jordon puts on his apron, Graham goes back for seconds.
“Breast milk” leads to a Gordon Ramsey spit take.
Adriana is brewing prickly pear cactus soup, just like her mother taught her, with dried shrimp croutons. It looks delicious, and the judges are generally pleased. Graham is a yes, Gordon is a no, and Joe is afraid she’s too nice, which is utter crap—this is Master Chef, not Master Bitch. Here’s your apron, Adriana.
Apron, apron, apron, apron, and then there’s George cooking Greek wedding soup. Gordon is disappointed, Graham likes the broth, and Joe finds it way too buttery. Because television, George brings out his girlfriend and Gordon forces him to ask her to marry him. She says yes, but Gordon says no.
Krissi from Philly gives her son a shout-out while prepping the food. She’s making a rather vile looking meatloaf with a cheese sauce that she calls “Florentine.” The judges schlep her kid out there so that he can witness his mother’s success firsthand. Krissi gets an apron, and her kid gets a hug.
Bime is inspired by his three daughters, and cooks with energy. He fries up a dish with plantains called mofongo de camarones, and the judges are torn. Graham is a yes, Joe is a no, and Gordon worries that he doesn’t have what it takes. But, he takes a chance and gives Bime an apron.
Jesse is a yacht stewardess from the South, where they don’t have fancy ingredients like vegetables. She’s cooking sea bass en croute. Gordon calls it a dish “from the 80s,” Graham calls it “good” and mumbles something about acid, and Joe says it’s too much. In an effort to figure out if Jesse is the real deal, Gordon brings her two fish. He filets one into six portions, and hands her the knife to do the other. Boom! Six stunning portions. Jesse just earned herself an apron.
A robot, a tractor, a fire-eater, it’s a parade of horribles and a pair of carved butternut squash. Then there’s James from Texas, who needs a haircut something fierce. He’s cooking crispy pork belly. Graham calls it “simple and creative,” which makes no sense. Gordon is worried that James will crack under pressure, but gives him an apron anyhow because cracking under pressure makes great television.
Sasha sashays into the room with a “heeeeey y’aaaaalll!” and you know it’s going to be good. She made the judges fried chicken, but with Cornish hen. She’s a bundle of personality, and she has the judges on the edges of their seats. “Put a little Sasha in your mouth, baby,” earns her a unanimous apron.
Rudy is up next. He is a hero who saved his neighbors from a San Diego fire, suffering severe burns over most of his body. He cooks a Native American fried taco using buffalo meat. Unfortunately, the meat is dry and the dish is underwhelming, and Rudy earns encouragement, but no apron.
Eddie is a former NFL player whose career ended when he snapped his wrists during a workout. So he switched to cooking, and prepares jerk meatloaf with ginger, coconut and sweet potato mash for the judges. They like it, and Eddie gets an apron.
Some guy named Luca from Italy who did not receive an apron last year comes back again. This time, he prepares broccoli rabe ravioli for the judges. Graham says it has a nice “pasta filling ratio,” which is like winning Miss Congeniality. Joe gives him a yes, Graham didn’t like the sauce so gives him a no, and Gordon hands Luca the apron he’s been dreaming about all year.
Next week, half of the contestants will be sent home.by