Reprinted with permission from www.healthywaytocook.com
Don’t laugh (or cry), but this is Episode 21 of Season Forever. And in an effort to make the upcoming season of MasterChef Junior more palatable, Gordon, Graham, and Joe have brought their sons onto the show. For the Mystery Box challenge, the kids get to fill the boxes with fifteen items of their choosing. The cooks will have one hour to create a delicious dish out of whatever ingredients a bunch of kids decided to pull off of the shelves.
Ketchup, wine, coffee, pineapple, mini marshmallows, coconut, peanut butter, bacon…it’s about as random as you would expect. So how do you make a restaurant quality meal out of all of that crap? The judges ask to taste Luca’s dish. He prepared pineapple napoleon with white chocolate. Gordon is surprised that Luca didn’t destroy the pastry with the pineapple, Graham likes that he left the passion fruit out of the dish because it was too acidic, and Joe calls it “top notch.” They also examine Jessie’s vanilla cream puffs with coconut and fruit. Graham thinks it’s simple yet refined, an a nice mix of the selected ingredients. The last dish the judges want to taste is James’s passion fruit turnover with blueberry mint puree. Joe likes the flavor, and Gordon calls it “incredible.” Krissi is pissed because they all used pre-made puffed pastry, but whatever.
James wins his first Mystery Box challenge and receives an advantage in the Elimination Test. He is safe from elimination, and gets to hear about the three greatest dishes the chefs have ever tasted. Joe presents marinated boton shrimp with sea urchin and caviar, Graham talks about his Grandpa Franny’s sandwich with softshell crab, and Gordon blathers on about a toothless lady on a boat who made Vietnamese noodle soup with slow cooked pork. James gets to choose which one of the three dishes the cooks will have to replicate. He selects the Vietnamese pork noodle broth because it has the most ingredients and the layering of flavors in the broth will be nearly impossible to recreate in seventy-five minutes.
Right off the bat, Krissi is thoroughly confused. She tastes it, but can’t place the flavors. So she just takes the same ingredients that everybody else chooses from the pantry. Natasha is layering her flavors slowly, Krissi has a nice base, Jesse is slowly preparing her vegetables, and Luca is overdoing the seasonings. When time is up, everybody has a decent looking dish in their bowls.
Natasha gets a good sear on her pork, but the broth is a little sweet for Graham, Gordon also notices the lack of sourness, and Joe finds it lacks salt. Luca’s dish is called “perfect,” and Graham seems reluctant to hand it over to the other judges. Jessie’s soup “has depth,” and Gordon thinks it’s delicious. Finally, it’s Krissi’s turn. Graham says that the flavors are all there, but it’s over spiced.
Luca wins the Elimination Challenge, and Jesse is safe. Between Krissi and Natasha, Krissi is safe and Natasha is…not going home. This show will never, ever end. Ever.
The cooks have been brought to a ranch outside of Los Angeles to cater a party for oh holy hell on a Cronut, it’s Paula Deen. No. Freaking. Way. I don’t even know what to say. Guh. Well, let’s ignore the giant butter-encrusted racist elephant in the room and talk about the challenge. The contestants will have ninety minutes to cook Southern-style food, and Luca gets to assign the proteins because he won the last challenge. He gives himself pork chops, and assigns Natasha catfish, Jesse alligator, Krissi shrimp, and James chicken.
Cooking, grilling, chopping, sweating, and with five minutes left, James’s chicken isn’t cooked all the way through. The cooks serve their dishes to the guests, and it’s Jesse’s Cajun alligator with andouille mac and cheese, Luca’s spiced pork chop with brussels sprouts and mashed sweet potatoes, Krissi’s citrus grilled shrimp with collard greens and fried green tomatoes, Natasha’s Cajun catfish with potato au gratin and cabbage slaw, and James’s bourbon BBQ chicken with black-eyed peas and honey glazed carrots.
While the guests are eating, Gordon notices that the pork chops are undercooked and has Luca toss the chops back onto the grill. Natasha’s catfish is also undercooked, and the guests pass on eating it for that reason. The judges loved Luca’s pork chop, the alligator is delicious, and Krissi did a good job with her shrimp. James’s chicken was ordinary, and as for Natasha’s catfish, the lady with a bad case of diabetes says, “some things you just gotta fry.” The top two dishes are from Luca and Jesse.
Luca and Jesse are safe from the Pressure Test, plus they get to decide who has to cook what dish. The first is Gordon’s seared scallop salad, the second is Joe’s filet Rossini, and the third is Graham’s Greek yogurt panna cotta with stewed rhubarb. They decide that Natasha will cook Gordon’s dish, Krissi’ will cook Joe’s dish, and James will recreate Graham’s dish.
The cooks have forty-five minutes and access to the pantry. Natasha is scrambling over her ingredients, Krissi is overcooking her meat, and James’s panna cotta may not have time to set. It’s time for judging. Natasha left some of the vinaigrette off of the plate, but she cooked the scallops perfectly. Krissi replicated the dish to near perfection, but the beef is overcooked (it’s medium on the top and medium rare on the bottom). Also, she left the skin on her carrot. Finally, James brings this weird little fishbowl up to the judges. It’s the wrong consistency because the panna cotta hasn’t set, but the flavor is on target.
The judges decide to send James home because his dish never came together.
Next week, “the most explosive episode in Master Chef history.”