MasterChef Episode Recaps

Top 12 Compete

Top 12 Compete

Aired: 7/11/11

The 12 remaining contestants gather on the rooftop of the elite London West Hollywood hotel. That's where judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich announce that the cooks will be split into teams for their catering challenge. Chef Ramsay explains that the venue holds a special place in his heart, because it's the home of his Michelin-starred restaurant.

The contestants find out that they will be preparing food for an exclusive party. Each team will have to conceptualize, prepare, and cook three courses of hors d'oeuvres for the VIP guest list. Ben and Christian, who won last week's challenge, are named team leaders.

Ben chooses Suzy for the Blue Team, because he says that she's produced a presentation similar to the one required for this challenge. Christian selects Adrien for the Red Team. Ben then picks Tracy, Jennifer, and Esther, while Christian goes with Alejandra, Derrick, and Giuseppe. With just two chefs left, Ben chooses Christine, leaving Erryn to round out the Red Team.

Chef Ramsay tells Ben that his all-girl group makes it look like "you've got Charlie's Angels there." Meanwhile, Christian is happy to have a male-dominated team, because he feels that women are more dramatic than guys and he'd rather not have that drama in the kitchen.

The chefs are given 90 minutes to create 300 luxury hors d'oeuvres. They must prepare a vegetable, beef, and dessert course from the ingredients in Chef Ramsay's kitchen.

Ben democratically assigns ownership of a single course to each of his teammates, empowering them to do something about which they are passionate. Suzy commits to preparing a veggie gazpacho. Christine agrees to create an open-faced Wellington for the beef course. And Esther chooses to finish off their selections with a chocolate profiterole.

On the Red Team, Christian has mapped out a menu, which he assigns to his group. They, too, plan to serve gazpacho for their vegetarian dish and profiteroles for dessert. Derrick is put in charge of the beef course, but he's concerned because he's never made tartar before.

Chef Ramsay and Graham then convene with Ben and Christian in the kitchen to discuss their menus. When Gordon hears that the two teams' menus are so similar, he urges them to "have the balls to change if it's not hitting perfection."

Adrien works to one-up Suzy's tomato-mint gazpacho by presenting a duo of two different varieties that will be layered in one dish. Meanwhile, Joe is concerned when he sees that Derrick is searing the steak tartar with a torch.

Despite two botched attempts, Esther sticks to her plan of making profiteroles for dessert, but Giuseppe ditches his disastrous first batch and switches to making fruit tarts for the Red Team. Esther ultimately perfects her choux dough, but the filling for the profiteroles is broken, and the Blue Team must shift to a kumquat and berry shooter at the last minute. Chef Ramsay calls it the worst dish that's ever left his kitchen, saying he could "freaking cry."

At the party, the chefs gear up to serve such VIP guests as Carson Kressley and Tabatha Coffey, who will taste both teams' selections and vote for their favorites. The team with two or three winning courses will be safe. The losing team will then face the next Pressure Test, and at least one person will be eliminated from the competition.

When the final votes are tallied, the Blue Team shocks everyone as their open-faced Wellington garners 100 percent of the vote for the beef course. But the Red Team wins both the vegetarian and dessert courses, so Chef Ramsay warns the Blue Team to get some rest because they'll soon be facing a very demanding Pressure Test.

The next day, Gordon presents the challenge to the Blue Team members: to create a superb layer cake. He calls the classic dessert a masterpiece built on "textures, taste, and vision impact." The chefs are then given two hours to bake a cake that will be judged on perfect construction and presentation as well as amazing taste.

As time winds down, several of the chefs struggle to complete their creations. Chef Ramsay calls this the most difficult Pressure Test in the history of "MasterChef."

Ben is emotional as he presents his dessert to Chef Ramsay, because he feels that the cake represents his true identity as a chef. After taking a piece, Chef Ramsay announces, "Finally, Ben Starr has arrived." He calls Ben's creation "absolute magic on a fork."

Suzy's pecan-crusted cake is far less successful, and Joe tells her that her minimal perfection "went to hell." Then, despite the fact that Tracy's cake is asymmetrical because she had to lift it by hand to move it, Joe says he approves of her orange zest and basil flavor.

Jen gets kudos from Chef Ramsay for her banana split cake with strawberries, chocolate, and nuts. But Graham tells Esther that her lemon raspberry cake is overly sweet, and Gordon criticizes the construction and lack of balance.

Christine is the last competitor to present her dessert to the judges' table. Joe says that her apricot berry cake seems one-dimensional and lacks contrast. And despite the fact that her sponge is perfect, Chef Ramsay tells a teary Christine that her cake is lacking personality.

Tracy, Jennifer, and Ben are safe and are sent to join the Red Team members in the balcony. Suzy, Esther, and Christine are in the bottom three. Then Christine and Suzy learn they are safe, as Chef Ramsay tells Esther that she's a technical, intelligent cook who looked out of her depth during the challenge and she must now leave the competition.

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