MasterChef Episode Recaps

Top 9 Compete

Top 9 Compete

Aired: 9/1/10

Tonight the latest mystery box challenge brings one "MasterChef" competitor to tears. The mystery ingredient in the box is a live Dungeness crab. But Sheetal, who is Hindu, doesn't believe in taking the life of an animal. She's a vegetarian, and she's never killed anything before.

Sheetal doesn't want her tears to be caught on camera, but Gordon consoles her. "I don't think I can kill the crab," she says. "It's moving around!" Gordon offers to help, but Sheetal vows to do it herself.

The cooks have 60 minutes, and only the top 3 most tantalizing dishes will be tasted. Lee is making gazpacho; Graham says he would have done the same. Slim is cutting her crab while it's still alive, she's torturing it! And ruining the flavor, Gordon points out.

With the clock ticking, Sheetal is still not sure she can kill the crab. "In our faith every living thing has a soul," she says. "If I'm here, I'm gonna have to take the soul of this crab." Finally, she does it!

Only ten minutes left. Sharone is going "outside the box" with a gourmet dish and looking a bit nervous. He's also starting to view Lee as a rival. "Lee and I come from same place, we have the same passions; he may have same tricks under his sleeve," he says. Lee, meanwhile, doesn't believe that Sharone "cooks from the heart."

Slim is once again failing at time management. "It look like a pile of crap on bread," she says of her own dish.

Finally, the judges are ready to pick their top three. Sharone's up first! He prepared a Dungeness crab cucumber roll with apple ginger reduction. But he manages to offend Gordon by telling how to eat it.

"At age of 43 I know how to eat properly," Gordon chides. But the judge quickly recovers. "The problem with that dish is automatically, I want more!" he raves.

Lee is the second person in the top three, with a Dungeness crab salad with fresh avocado and gazpacho andalouse sauce.

"You knocked this challenge out of the park. This is awesome," Graham says, adding that Lee has pulled himself out of the lower ranks of the competition.

Sheetal is shocked to learn that she is the third person in the top three with her tomato and crab curry.

"It excels in simplicity. I'm sure that crab was very happy to give his life for this dish," Joe says.

But one contestant has the best and most unique dish the judges have seen so far in history of "MasterChef." And that dish belongs to Lee.

"You've proven to yourself and us that you're a force to be reckoned with," Gordon says.

Lee now gets to pick the main ingredient for the next challenge, an invention test. The person who cooks the worst dish will be eliminated.

The judges pick the theme: romance. "You're tall, you're good-looking, you know how to woo a lady, right?," Gordon asks Lee.

"Well, that's how I got my girlfriend, so yeah, if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here today. And I cook for her every day," Lee responds.

Lee gets to choose from chocolate, passion fruit, and Italian burrata cheese. His girlfriend hates chocolate, so he goes with passion fruit. Tracy is upset; she knows nothing about passion fruit. Whitney, 22, has never really dated so she's not sure how to make a romantic dish. Slim, also 22, says she "sucks at romance."

The contestants have one hour. The judges want to be wooed and seduced by dishes, and they're not impressed by the looks of Slim's family-style fondue. Sharone is using a complicated sous-vide method to make his meat. Gordon calls the decision either "absolutely genius or absolute stupidity." Lee is trying to have fun with his dish "like he has fun with his girlfriend." Sheetal, meanwhile, says she has no love life to tap into.

Time is up; the judges are ready to taste the dishes. Gordon calls Sharone's sous-vide method "the most ambitious use of machinery ever on "MasterChef." Graham says his porcini-crusted tenderloin with candied passion fruit rind is "sublime."

"It literally does melt in your mouth; it's like butter," he says.

Jake makes a "sexy" seared filet mignon, but Gordon calls it one of his weakest dishes. Whitney overcooks her passion fruit glazed shrimp, which Graham calls "very amateur." Gordon says Tracy's beef tenderloin over fingerling potatoes "looks like something out of a sci-fi movie; it's 90 percent inedible."

Sheetal is commended for her choice of a nice plate, and nothing else. And Slim's fondue is a total disaster.

"If I were on a date with you, I'd go to bathroom, and you'd never see me again; I'd bolt out the door," Gordon says. Joe takes it further: he dumps the dish in the trash!

Mike's beef tataki is raw; and "absolutely delicious." David's spicy saffron shrimp represents himself and his fiancé; together they make a "perfect marriage." Joe calls it "amazing" and "intellectual."

Lee's Tenderloin and Prawns with parsnip and cauliflower puree and passion fruit glaze is meant to represent the "imperfections of relationships."

The judges ask all of the contestants to come up and try the dish; it's that good. But a jealous Sharone won't eve taste it. Lee is the winner of the test, for the second time today.

The judges say they were let down by all the girls, but Sheetal, Tracy and Whitney are safe. Slim's dish, however, looks like the "welcome plate in a senior home before they go off in the box," Graham says. The judges ask Slim how she would redo the dish, and she says she'd make the same sauce with less ginger. Wrong answer! The sauce would have to be completely redone.

Slim's time on "MasterChef" is over. Gordon tells her to take the next five years to grow and learn, and Slim vows to go work in a kitchen.

Next, the remaining eight "MasterChef" hopefuls are split into two teams to cook for the most important day of one couple's life; their wedding. The two teams will have to cook for 230 guests and prepare a meal that this couple will never forget.

Lee, the winner of the last challenge, gets to pick his own team. For the blue team, he chooses Jake, Mike, and Tracy. Sharone was one of the best cooks yesterday, and Tracy was one of the worst. So why did Lee not pick Sharone, the judges ask?

Lee thinks his team is going to win, and he's hoping that competitive Sharone will go home. That leaves Sharone, Whitney, Sheetal, and David for the red team, with Sharone taking the leadership role.

Each team will have to prepare 115 appetizers; Caesar salad with goat cheese tartlet; and 115 entrees: surf and turf with mashed potatoes, fried onions, and steamed vegetables. The flavors have to be perfect. Sharone gets off to a bad start; he's butchering the salmon, which is worth hundreds of dollars.

Lee's blue team is under control, but the red team is in utter chaos. Sheetal tells Sharone to stop yelling at her. Sharone worries that blue team is always one step ahead of them. But David decides to take on quality control for seasoning.

Tracy isn't doing so well with the lettuce. Gordon says it looks "like rabbit food." Tracy breaks down; she doesn't want to be responsible for ruining someone's wedding day!

The groom kisses the bride, and the guests are sitting down in 10 minutes! At this point, both teams go into utter meltdown. Graham and Gordon decide they have to put their coats on and help out.

The blue team has yet to have any plates leave the kitchen, and the tartlets are burnt, thanks to Tracy. Mike is going too fast with the sauce and throwing too much on the plates.

"Put it on with finesse; it's a wedding!" Gordon shouts.

Finally, the blue team gets their appetizers out, but Sharone and David are fighting over where the salmon is. The red team is starting to look shaky, while the blue team is turning things around.

In the end, the guests are happy, and the judges are pleased with both teams.

"A wedding is a tall order and you guys pulled it off; well done," Gordon says.

The next morning, everyone reconvenes. The wedding was the most difficult challenge yet, but Sharone's red team had a slight advantage: team hero David Miller. David's seasoning on the onion rings and seasoning and texture on the mashed potatoes were just right.

Now, Lee's losing blue team must face a pressure test. They'll have 90 minutes to make a stunning fresh pasta and a sauce to go with it. And the stakes have doubled: two people will be going home.

The judges get nervous when Tracy starts her sauce before her pasta. How can she possibly make lasagna Bolognese in 90 minutes? Jake still seems angry about losing the last challenge. Mike doesn't even know what he's making, and his pasta is all sticking together.

Thirty minutes left; Tracy is having trouble with the pasta machine. Finally, she switches to ravioli, but even she thinks her dish looks "butt ugly."

Time to taste. Tracy tells the judges she's not "super proud" of her ravioli bolognese, but Gordon says it smells delicious. Joe says it's not Bolognese, but it may be the "best sloppy joe he's ever had."

Jake's stuffed calamari with marinara over fresh fettuccine is "clumsy." But Mike's fettuccine with roasted peppers and mushroom cream sauce "came together on the plate."

Lee's confident about his roasted eggplant ravioli with caper berry sauce, but Gordon thinks the garlic is "far too strong."

So who's going home? Mike is safe: Joe was "blown away" by his dish. But Tracy's bolognese sauce over two raviolis just wasn't good enough.

"You have done so many amazing things; and more importantly, you've shone," Gordon says. "Go home and keep cooking and know you have your mom right there next to you," Graham adds.

Jake will also be going home, even though the judges expected to see him in the finals.

"Stay away from the construction site, because you are a talented guy," Gordon says.

Lee is safe; but just barely. "You're a smart guy," Gordon says. So raw garlic inside that, you just nearly blew it."

Meanwhile, Jake is done with his old working-class life; and Tracy might open a bakeshop.

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