MasterChef Episode Recaps

Top 10 Compete

Top 10 Compete

Aired: 7/19/11

The remaining ten "MasterChef" contestants are split into two teams, and Chef Gordon Ramsay informs them that they are going to prepare a stunning three-course meal for "the toughest critics 'MasterChef' has ever seen." Tracy and Giuseppe had the best dishes in the last elimination test, so they are named the team captains. Tracy selects Adrien, Christian, Jennie, and Christine for her Blue Team. Giuseppe chooses Alejandra, Ben, Suzy, and Derrick to wear the red jackets.

Graham Elliot then introduces the teams to the tough critics who will be serving as guest judges - Gordon, Graham and Joe's moms, Helen, Kate, and Lydia. "They have never failed to kick our ass," Graham says. "But they've been very quick to praise our triumphs."

Gordon says that the contestants must create a meal that appeals to all three mothers. The team captains get a few minutes with the moms to determine their likes and dislikes. The women have varied tastes, and the cooks find it difficult to select items that will please them all.

They then return to the kitchen to prepare a three-course lunch menu, including an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. The moms will choose which team's dishes they prefer, and the team that wins their approval in at least two out of the three courses will win the challenge.

On the Blue Team Tracy assigns Adrien to make a carrot and ginger soup. Christian will prepare the fish entrée - a big risk since Gordon's mom, Helen, is not a seafood fan - and Tracy hopes the gamble will pay off. Jennie is making a fennel and tomato salad, while Tracy and Christine prepare the dessert of poached pears and walnut brittle.

Giuseppe's Red Team sticks to what he knows best: Italian. For the appetizer, they are going to serve a crispy polenta cake. Their entrée will be a pasta carbonara with pancetta. And for dessert they choose to make an apple pie with vanilla ice cream and a caramel cream. But teammate Ben questions the choice of apple pie with an Italian menu.

The Red Team struggles with the polenta, which did not have enough time to set and is falling apart on the griddle. Meanwhile, the Blue Team argues over the potentially amateurish soup presentation.

The moms taste both appetizers. Kate thinks that the soup is beautiful but a little sweet. Lydia remarks that she didn't taste the carrot flavor in the soup. They said they would have preferred a different choice of greens in the polenta salad.

Teams are now preparing their entrees. The Red Team is on track with the risky fish dish, while the Blue Team is shocked to learn that Giuseppe is planning on using pre-made pasta for the meal, rather than making his own from scratch.

The Blue team presents the moms a pan-seared turbot with caramelized fennel, while the Red team brings out spaghetti carbonara with eggs, pancetta, and parmesan cheese. Then Graham arrives to find out the judges' thoughts. Lydia likes the pasta, but Helen finds it dry. Kate enjoys the fish, and Helen, who's not a fish lover, is converted and says that she "will be eating it after today."

The chefs are now racing to finish their desserts. The Red Team has made individual apple pies. The Blue Team's Tracy and Christian debate about the presentation of their poached pears. Gordon criticizes the final decision, telling Tracy that "It doesn't even look like a dessert!"

In spite of the tensions in the kitchen, the moms love the way the pears have been plated. Lydia says that the presentation is "very beautiful and simple." But the warm apple pie gets them ooo-ing and ahh-ing. They tell Gordon that the meal has ended on a high note for both teams.

The guest judges reveal that the best appetizer was the Red Team's polenta salad. They chose the Blue Team's turbot for their favorite entrée and picked the Blue Team's poached pears for the winning dessert. And so that team is victorious.

The next day the Red Team faces the Pressure Test as members of the Blue Team head up to the gallery to observe. The theme is eggs Benedict, causing Ben to scream for joy. Graham warns them that making Hollandaise sauce is very difficult. They have 30 minutes to prepare the best dish they can with only the ingredients directly in front of them. The cooks' levels of experience with the dish range from Ben's, who makes the dish every Sunday, to Giuseppe's, who has never attempted it before.

The judges silently taste Ben's dish with no feedback at all. One of Giuseppe's eggs has fallen onto the plate, rather than sitting squarely on the English muffin. Gordon comments that the egg is raw. He moves onto Suzy's egg, which he calls beautiful. Derrick's sauce did not make it onto the plate because he lost track of time. The judges taste Alejandra's dish last, prompting Chef Ramsay to comment, "Your eggs are like golf balls."

He tells Ben, "It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't bad. You're safe." Ben joins the others in the gallery. Suzy also avoids elimination. Joe tells Alejandra, "It wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst." She also is safe. Now Derrick and Giuseppe find themselves in the bottom two, but ultimately Derrick is spared to cook another week, while Giuseppe must hand over his apron.

"You, across the competition, have been a breath of fresh air," Chef Ramsay tells Giuseppe. "Your passion is extraordinary. Your heart is one of the biggest we've ever seen inside this competition. Do not ever go back to selling granite. Keep cooking!"

As Giuseppe leaves, he says that he's encouraged by Chef Ramsay's words. "I want to see how far the love of food can take me in life," he says. "I'm very proud of myself. I did a great job."

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