MasterChef Season 4, Episode 3 & 4

Natasha chooses the protein for the elimination challenge

Reprinted with permission from

It’s the final day of the auditions, and Graham Elliott, Joe Bastianich, and Gordon Ramsey have a few more aprons to hand out.

First up is Howard, an Army veteran with a bad boy past. He makes bourbon peach blackberry cobbler, which I want in my mouth right now. Gordon Ramsey compliments the rustic charm, but he’s a no. Graham Elliott wants to see more from Howard, so he’s a yes. Joe Bastianiach takes Howard for a walk to tell Howard’s grandma that he gets an apron.

Some yahoo brings stuffed animals, soft boiled egg, burned food, a low carb disaster…and then Johnny, the last home cook of the day, takes the stage.  He’s preparing lobster crackerjack with nuts and caramel. It makes Gordon smirk, and Graham seems to like the salty and sweet, and Joe doesn’t even know what to do with it. He earns a unanimous apron.

The judges storm into the Master Chef Kitchen to explain the first challenge. Oh, and it will be a bloodbath, with half of the contestants going home. A baby sheep! Also known as delicious lamb chops. But the little lamb will live to bah another day, as Ramsey unleashes a herd of sheep into the kitchen. Lamb is my favorite food in the world, so I’m salivating watching these beasts circle the stage. The contestants have every cut of lamb, every ingredient in the pantry, and sixty minutes to make the best lamb dish of their lives.

Malcolm is cooking a lamb sampler plate, which Joe worries is scattered. Beth is cooking lamb on top of hay, which sounds disgusting. Luca is stuffing a lamb loin with sweetbread. There’s a Frenched rack of lamb with rosemary wrapped around the bone. Rosemary and lamb is delicious, but boring.

After fifteen minutes, surprise! Gordon announces that they have seen enough. Joe makes his way around the kitchen and starts collecting aprons. Gabriella goes home for too many technical mistakes. James gets the boot. Brian turns in his apron. Everyone else makes it through the initial chop. The remaining cooks are divided into three groups. Gordon explains that one of the groups is moving on to the Master Chef kitchen because they have already impressed the judges, and the other group is going home. As the winning group celebrates, the losing group dabs their tears with souvenir aprons.  For the third group of eight, the judges will taste the completed dishes in order to decide if they are in or out.

Malcolm is up first. He mad a lamb trio with sausage, rib, and loin salad. He cooked the rib to a perfect medium rare, and has good flavor. Seymira made cotes d’agneau chermoula, and cooked it to a medium well. Aside from the cooking temperature crime against nature (lamb was put on this earth to be cooked to medium rare), her dish lacked lamb and she is kicked out of the competition. Next are Johnny and Brian. Johnny made lamb rangoon that Graham calls simple but tasty. Brian made southwest liver and onion with boysenberry sauce. Chef Ramsey says it looks like Brian murdered the lamb, and Brian retorts that it is the most beautiful dish that he has ever cooked. Thankfully, Johnny moves on and Brian goes back to shooting squirrels and collecting road kill.

Next up is Nancy who made lamb chops. Joe calls it “well constructed,” but the garlic is too strong. Graham liked the garlicky sauce, but thought the puree was gritty. Brie made four seasons lamb. She’s a vegetarian so she has never cooked lamb. Joe calls the plate “intelligent” but it was evident that she had never cooked meat before. The chefs send Nancy home, and Brie joins the group of apron-clad contestants.

Luca prepared lamb loin stuffed with sweetbreads. Chef Ramsey calls it dangerous, but not in a good way. Joe calls it tender. Beth is next, and prepared lavender hay roasted loin. Chef Ramsey calls the concept smart, but the delivery sub-par. Graham likes the idea of cooking in hay, but wishes that she seared the lamb in the pan. The chefs enjoyed the dishes so much that they let both cooks keep their aprons.

The cooks arrive in the Master Chef kitchen and are sent to their stations for their first Mystery Box Challenge. They have sixty minutes to prepare, cook, and present an amazing dish using only the ingredients hidden under the box, plus the pantry.  With apologies to Brad Pitt, what’s in the box?

  • Bacon
  • Potato
  • Tomato
  • Chocolate

Mystery Box

The judges sampled dishes as they went along, and asked to take another look at Bime’s poached egg over hash with tomato basil salsa. It’s perfectly poached and earns high praise from Gordon. Graham and Joe are equally impressed, though Joe’s trust issues bubble to the surface. The judges also ask to taste Natasha’s lemon pie tart with bacon chocolate ganache and meringue. After examining the tart, Graham notes that it took a lot of finesse. Gordon was blown away by the technical execution, and Joe calls it a serious contender. The third dish the judges want to taste is Krissi’s bacon and potato frittata with a tomato basil salad. Gordon says it was cooked with “absolute honesty,” which should make Joe comfortable.

The win goes to Natasha, and she gets an advantage in the Elimination Test. She gets to decide which food the cooks will use. It’s between langoustine, first cut veal chop, and stilton blue cheese. And, Natasha will not have to cook in the challenge. As if that wasn’t enough, she gets to choose one more cook who will be safe from elimination. She selects Savannah, and langoustine.

The cooks have sixty minutes to prepare a langoustine dish while Natasha and Savannah watch from the gallery. Krissi made langoustine mac ‘n cheese. Graham calls it yummy, and Gordon is surprised. Jordon cooked langoustine bisque with vegetables and bacon. Gordon calls it delicious, and Graham says it’s the best thing he’s had so far. Howard made poached langoustine with a spinach citrus salad. Gordon is unimpressed with salad, and Joe calls it a joke. Gordon refuses to eat it, and Joe calls it a waste of their time. Luca made langoustine fettuccine with asparagus and tomato. Gordon finds the langoustine to be overcooked. Lin made poached langoustine with lime beurre blanc. Graham likes the flavor. Kathy made boiled langoustine with yellow rice. Joe says it’s boring and does not respect the product. Sasha cooks langoustine and grits, which Gordon says looks like someone pooped on the plate. Gordon says the combination is all sorts of wrong, and Joe is pissed at what she did with that wonderful product. Jessie brings Graham tempura langoustine with Swiss chard. It’s perfectly seasoned and fried, and Gordon calls it the best langoustine he’s tasted. Malcolm prepared stuffed langoustine with pasta. It’s ugly, and undercooked. Joe spits it out.

The judges praise Jordon’s dish, but give the win to Jessie’s langoustine tempura. The three worst dishes are Howard’s salad, Malcolm’s stuffed langoustine, and Sasha’s langoustine and grits. The judges send Malcolm and Howard back to their cooking stations, and they send Sasha home.

The judges send Sasha home

Next week, its’ a team challenge on a playground, and a lot of tough talk from Krissi.
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