MasterChef Season 4, Episodes 9 & 10

MasterChef Season 4 Episode 9 judges

Reprinted with permission from

Episode 9

The winning home cooks from the Vegas challenge return to the Master Chef Kitchen to face a Mystery Box and Joe’s mom, Lidia Bastianich. So what’s in the box? Nobody knows. The packaging is in a variety of languages from around the globe, and it’s up to the contestants to figure it out for themselves. The cooks have sixty minutes to make a dish using some or all of the ingredients. Yikes.

MasterChef Season 4 Lidia Bastianich

There’s a lot of smelling and tasting going on, and for protein there’s elk, salt-cured tuna, Japanese sweet potato, cod’s liver, ground moss (which Krissi calls “Chinese pubic hair””), and a miscellaneous assortment of other…things.

The judges taste all of the dishes and choose the top three:

  • Eddie’s elk flank with Japanese sweet potato that is well-balanced, stunningly seared, and overall delicious.
  • Jordan’s stack salad with Chinese moss and baby eels, which is called smart and balanced even though Jordan has no idea what he cooked.
  • Bime’s elk flank with baby eels and sweet potato that hits the sweet, salty, and tangy notes to create a symphony in your mouth.

The winner is Eddie, who gets a huge advantage that Gordon Ramsey calls “unlike any other advantage.” judges take him to the pantry where he will choose pasta with a filling for the elimination challenge–agnolotti, mezzaluna, or something that sounds like “calamari” but is something else entirely. Eddie is safe from elimination so he will not have to cook in the challenge, and he chooses the most difficult pasta, which is agnolotti. The cooks get a demonstration on how to make the perfect pasta from Joe’s mother, Lidia Bastianich. Also, Eddie gets to choose two of his fellow contestants who will not get to see Lidia’s demonstration. He selects James and Lynn. Ouch.

The remaining contestants gather around the workstation and watch Lidia and Joe prepare the pasta. The filling is leftovers, and the pasta is soft and buttery. It looks so delicious. The cooks now have sixty minutes to prepare an agnolotti that will make Joe’s mamma proud. Nobody is happier to meet Lidia than Krissi, who swoons just a little bit. Lynn, who didn’t get to see the demonstration, looks nauseous and confused. Beth is having trouble getting her water to boil and is at risk of her pasta not cooking, so she tosses some in the pan to give it a bit of a sautée.

The judges let Lidia decide whose pasta they will taste first, and they go with James who makes his alla vodka. Lidia calls it “good, good, and good.” Next up is Lynn, who already messed up by using a blender to make a short rib purée filling.  Gordon calls his pasta inconsistent, and Joe said that Eddie expertly executed his advantage to handicap Lynn. Jonny made a squash filling with maple sauce which Lidia is highly suspect of since there is no maple syrup in Italian cooking. She calls it more of a dessert than a pasta dish. Jessie used oxtail and short rib for her filling. Gordon calls the pasta beautiful. Krissi made a Swiss chard filling with butter sauce, and Lidia gives it a few “goods.” Beth brings her cheese, herb, and mushroom dish up and Graham lets her know that she is at risk of going home. Howard made chicken with bell pepper and jalapeno, and Lidia says it gave her a mouthful of peppers, and for some reason Joe calls him a “narcissist full of denial.”

The stand-out dishes are from Krissi and Jessie, who will be team captains in the next challenge.  The disappointing dishes are from Jonny, Lynn, Howard, and Beth. Jonny and Beth get a dressing down, but they are sent back to their stations with nothing but wounded pride. Lynn’s dish was “a total mess,” and Howard’s dish demonstrated “ignorance.” In a weird and awkward moment, Gordon Ramsey says that the cook who needs to go home knows it, and should “do the honorable thing” and place his apron on the workstation and leave. For some reason, Howard complies with this vague request and self-eliminates. Huh.

Episode 10

The contestants go to the Paramount Studios to cook for the cast of Glee. The cool thing is that they are in the choir room. The uncool thing is that Glee hasn’t been watchable in years.  Even though Krissi and Jessie are team captains, they will not get to pick their teams. Instead. Jane Lynch will choose for them! ZOMG! Jane Lynch! Forget everything I said about Glee, this is awesome! She names the teams Beauty and Beast and divides up the contestants into two teams. Jane then leaves to get a pedicure, and the cooks enter the back lot to find out what they will be cooking.

The cooks must make a menu consisting of fried chicken, grilled salmon, and vegan lasagna. Whichever team prepares the best dishes will be safe from elimination. Krissi’s Blue Team quickly springs into action, while Jessie’s Red Team is in the weeds. Then, Jessie forgets to put the guard back on the mandolin and slices her damn finger! It’s disgusting, she “lost a chunck,” it’s bleeding like crazy and she nearly passes out. When she finally gets back in the game, her team is a mess. The soy and ginger glazed salmon is sticking to the grill, and the rest of their dishes haven’t quite come together. Meanwhile, the Blue Team is moving like clockwork.

MasterChef Season 4 Joel McHale Jenna Ushkowitz

Joel McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz taste the Blue team’s dishes.

Time is up, and in roll the cast and crew. The Blue Team prepared spicy Latin fried chicken, balsamic marinated salmon, and spicy tomato sauce vegan lasagna. The Red Team serves up southern buttermilk chicken, Asian soy glazed salmon, and vegan lasagna with pesto sauce. The Red Team runs out of fried chicken first, and the Blue Team’s fried chicken is raw inside.

Jane Lynch marches out with a band and cheerleaders to announce the winning team. It wasn’t even close, with the Red Team winning with 90 votes as compared to the Blue Team’s measly salmonella-encrusted 37 votes. The Red Team must now compete in a Pressure Test. But it turns out that it was the salmon, and not the fried chicken, that lost the challenge for the Blue Team. As the team captain, Krissi will decide who gets to compete in the Pressure Test, and there can be as few as two people competing. Krissi sends Bethy, James, Bime, and Jordon into the Pressure Test. Since she doesn’t care what other people think about her, she saves herself from elimination. Good choice, because the cooks have ninety minutes to bake a lemon meringue pie without any lemons. Instead, the cooks can use any other citrus fruit. Lime! Choose lime!

As the winners of the challenge, the Red team goes on to compete in a Pressure Test.

As the winners of the challenge, the Red team goes on to compete in a Pressure Test.

Bime is the first to mess up by using cream of tartar instead of corn starch, so his curd isn’t thickening. He puts it in the refrigerator and hopes for the best. James also ran low on time, and his pie looks like a raw disaster.

James selected blood orange and lime for his filling. The pie crust is raw on the bottom, but the curd tastes “quite nice.” Joe calls it “disappointing.” Bethy went with lime. Graham likes the tangy flavor of the curd, but the pie falls apart. Gordon says that he knew she was screwed when he saw her pour the curd on top of raw pastry crust. Jordon also used lime, and his pie holds together fairly well. Joe likes the curd and says that it s the best cake he’s tasted so far.  Bime’s pie is a drippy disaster, so Gordon pours it into cocktail glasses. That’s not a good sign.

Bethy and Bime prepared the worst pies, but there is no getting around liquid pie so Bime is eliminated from the competition.

Next week, there’s a disgusting head in a box and it’s the return of the blind chef.

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