MasterChef Episode Recaps

Top 5 Compete

Top 5 Compete

Aired: 8/9/11

The final five home cooks in the competition gather in the "MasterChef" kitchen, where judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich reveal the latest Mystery Box Challenge. The contestants have to prepare, cook, and present an incredible dish using all or some of the ingredients inside a wooden crate: a variety of ground meats and an assortment of vegetables, rice, and potatoes.

While most of the cooks are unsure as to how to dazzle the judges in 60 minutes with the given ingredients, Ben realizes that he has everything he needs to make a shepherd's pie. Suzy coincidentally chooses to make the same dish. Adrien decides to do meatballs three ways, and Jennifer goes with meatloaf.

But Christian confesses that he's stumped, and he ultimately settles on the risky choice of making chili in just one hour. Jennifer, who has been a strong competitor in the last few weeks, feels that Adrien is most likely to give her a run for her money. Adrien agrees that Jennifer is his stiffest competition.

As always, the judges pick the three dishes they think look the best and taste them. They first choose Jennifer's grownup meatloaf with roasted corn and homemade ketchup. Joe thinks the sauce is a little flat, but Chef Ramsay says that it's "absolutely delicious." Graham says that this could be Jennifer's fourth Mystery Box Challenge win.

They next select Adrien's meatball trio in three different sauces. Graham says that the plating is beautiful but finds the food too salty. Joe commends him on the concept but shoots down the flavor, comparing the dish to a fake master painting.

Ben's shepherd's pie is the final dish that the judges decide to taste. Chef Ramsay takes a big bite and says that he's never had this classic British dish prepared with veal before — and it's delicious.

After deliberating, the judges give the advantage in the next stage of the competition to Ben, who scores his first Mystery Box win. As the victor, Ben gets to choose among three dishes that have been prepared by none other than Chef Ramsay himself. This dish will be re-created by the contestants in the upcoming challenge.

Ben's choices are pan-roasted filet of halibut, roasted duck breast, and roasted loin of venison. He chooses the venison tenderloin and is allowed to ask Chef Ramsay three questions about his technique. Ben blows his first question by asking about beets, which are actually red cabbage. But he gets two good tips from Chef Ramsay on the techniques used for preparing the parsnips and the venison.

The remaining contestants learn that they will be cooking a meal created by the man who put the "F" in food. Each of the competitors is told that they can look at and taste the dish, but they can't ask questions. Then they have five minutes in the "MasterChef" pantry to select what they believe are the components of Chef Ramsay's dish. One missed ingredient could send somebody home.

Suzy confesses that she's never even tasted venison. Ben, however, feels confidant: he thinks that the information he gleaned from Chef Ramsay will help him thrive in the challenge.

Having realized that Ben has some inside knowledge, Adrien observes Ben's cooking methods. Jennifer is also paying attention to the way the Mystery Box Challenge winner is working. After noticing that Ben is cooking the parsnips with cream rather than adding it afterward, she changes her plans and does the same.

Only Christian is happy with his dish when it comes time to present to the judges. Suzy brings hers forward first. Joe asks her if she sketched Chef Ramsay's dish, because hers looks almost exactly the way his did. The judges point out that her dish is buttery and rich, and she earns good marks from the panel.

Christian is the second up to the plate. But despite his confidence, Graham points out that his meat isn't prepared perfectly and that his parsnip puree is split. Chef Ramsay tells him that the venison is peppery and adds, "The meat should be the hero, and it's not." Joe tells him, "If you could put the kind of bravado and attitude that spews from your mouth into your plate, I think you might be a top contender."

Ben is next. He acknowledges that he squandered his venison and overcooked his meat. Graham says that it's a far cry from Chef Ramsay's dish. Chef Ramsay agrees and chastises Ben that the main ingredient has been destroyed and says, "I could cry."

Having heard the critique of Ben's dish, Jennifer is worried that she had followed some of his choices in preparing her food. Before even tasting the dish, Chef Ramsay criticizes her presentation. She doesn't receive much better feedback on the flavor of her food. Joe tells her, "This Bambi could be your ride home."

Adrien is the final chef to submit his food for tasting. He apologizes before the judges take a bite. Chef Ramsay tells him that he has taken the $87 dish from his menu and done a version that he "wouldn't even pay $7 for."

The judges declare Suzy's the closest to his original and congratulate her for making it to the final four. They then call Adrien, Christian, Jennifer, and Ben forward. In the end, they find Ben's dish to be the worst, and the congenial competitor is sent home.

Ben hugs all of the judges goodbye and even gets a kiss on the cheek from Chef Ramsay. Before he goes, Chef Ramsay asks him his pick for "MasterChef," and Ben implores Adrien to win it.

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