MasterChef Episode Recaps

Top 8 Compete

Top 8 Compete

Aired: 8/1/11

The eight remaining home cooks are dropped off in a Los Angeles neighborhood to prepare food for a "MasterChef" block party. The three head judges - Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich - greet them and explain that 200 hungry kids are on their way.

The contestants will need to prepare a slider and a side for each kid. But there's a catch: They cannot use beef or potatoes. And the kids aren't just the guests; they are the judges, too.

Christian and Christine won the last elimination challenge, so they are named team captains. Christian picks Adrien, Derrick, and Jennifer, while Christine chooses Tracy, Ben, and Suzy. The losing team will then face a difficult Pressure Test. Before they begin, Gordon warns them, "This challenge is anything but child's play." They are given two hours prep and 60 minutes to serve.

Christian decides that his Blue Team will make a grilled turkey slider with cheese, ketchup, mustard, and a sweet pickle. For a side, they will make slices of raw apple with a caramel dipping sauce. Since he refuses to listen to any of his team's suggestions, Derrick hopes the fact that their team leader has a nine-year-old kid himself means that his menu is a good one.

Christine's Red Team is going to create a chicken nugget slider with cheese, ranch sauce, and lettuce and a side of corn fritters. Ben and Suzy take on the fritters, while Christine and Tracy prepare the sliders.

On the Blue Team, Christian slices apples, Jennifer makes the caramel sauce, and Derrick and Adrien make the turkey patties. The judges question if going healthy is going to win votes with the kids.

When Gordon hears that the Red Team is deep-frying their nugget burgers, he says, "It scares the s#*t out of me . . . Nuggets don't get served in buns." And he cautions them that deep-frying both dishes constitutes junk food. Ben contends that this is the day to get votes, not restructure the nature of healthy cooking for kids.

Christian and Jennifer butt heads when it comes to the approach for making the caramel. She claims that he ruins it when he stirs the melting sugar. While Christine struggles to grill the chicken, Joe and Graham comment that the breading is making the poultry dry.

When Gordon criticizes the Blue Team's grainy caramel, Jennifer feels vindicated that she knew not to stir the sauce. Christian blames her anyway.

As the prep time draws to a close, 200 kids descend upon the cul-de-sac. The astute young judges note that the Blue Team's caramel has chunks in it and the Red Team's chicken burgers are dry - the very problems that the "MasterChef" judges had warned them about.

The Red Team can't keep up with demand, causing a commotion among the kids as the cooks rush to make more. Even so, several kids think that the chicken burger is worth the wait. One said it is "infinitely better" than the Blue Team's slider.

When it comes time to vote, the kids are asked to run toward the team whose meal they preferred. A head count reveals that they chose the Red Team two-to-one.

The Blue Team now must face the Pressure Test. Before the challenge, Christian and Jennifer get into a heated debate about why their team lost. Gordon says, "The harshest reality about your failure cooking for that block party is that one of you will be leaving 'MasterChef.' "

He asks Christian to choose the two weakest performers from the team. He selects himself as team captain and Jennifer "because she didn't know how to make caramel sauce." She responds, "I think I'm a better cook than him," and she agrees to go head-to-head with her former captain. Their two teammates, Derrick and Adrien, put their money on Christian to win, but then they find out that they, too, will be participating.

Gordon tells them that the Pressure Test is to make a "stunning, unique, and delicious cheese soufflé." They have 90 minutes and can make as many batches as they want, but they can only present one soufflé to the judges.

During the challenge, the tension between Jennifer and Christian rises. Adrien stays out of the drama and focuses on his cooking. Derrick tells Gordon that Christian's bad mood may put him at a disadvantage and hopes he is sent home.

Christian is the first to present his cheddar and parmesan soufflé. The cook doesn't attempt a second batch, confidant that his first attempt will wow the judges. Jennifer and Derrick choose to try to perfect their soufflés by taking a second shot, but Adrien goes with his first, a gruyere and cheddar version of the dish.

Ultimately, Jennifer chooses to present her test cheddar and parmesan soufflé, not one from her second batch. Derrick's final attempt is down to the wire, coming out of the oven in the last few seconds. He presents his gruyere with parmesan soufflé, then the judges go off to confer and decide who will move on and who will be sent home.

Chef Ramsay tells Jennifer that the last time she took a Pressure Test the eggs were her undoing. This time he declares, "You did them justice." She's safe.

The judges feel that Derrick's attempt is delicious. He's also safe for another week.

When they tell Adrien he can join the others in the gallery, Christian is the sole man left standing. Chef Ramsay tells him that his dish is also delicious and sends him upstairs, explaining that no one is going home this week. "All the soufflés were phenomenal," Chef Ramsay explains, as the remaining home cooks survive to compete another day in the "MasterChef" competition.

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