MasterChef

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Top 3 Compete

Top 3 Compete

Aired: 8/16/11

Only three home cooks remain to battle it out for the ultimate culinary bragging rights, the title of America's "MasterChef." Jennifer, the beauty queen from Delaware; Adrien, the server from California; and Christian, the stay-at-home dad from Massachusetts, are the last three standing. Today's winners will make it to the finale and the final challenge to see who wins $250,000.

Now they face their final Mystery Box Challenge. The judges - Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich - remind them that Jennifer has won three of these tests, Adrien has taken two, and Christian was the very first Mystery Box winner this season.

Their "MasterChef" journey is coming full circle, because inside the Mystery Box is a chicken, the same ingredient they cooked with the first week. They have full access to the pantry and 60 minutes to show how good they are. Chef Ramsay challenges them, "Prove to us why you deserve to be in the finals." He also tells them that whoever wins will get a monumental advantage in the elimination test.

Christian presents his dish first, a bacon-wrapped chicken with French onion sauce and acorn squash. Gordon says that the carrot puree looks grainy, but that the chicken is "freakin' delicious." Graham calls it "sound," and Joe tells him that the skin is "quite good."

Adrien is next to the plate with a braised chicken thigh, acorn squash, and asparagus on rice. Graham comments that he should be "really proud if it." Gordon remarks that, while it "doesn't look that appetizing, the chicken is nice." Joe proclaims that the side dish is "amazing," even for a rice snob like him.

Jennifer brings her dish to the judges last. She makes a bacon-wrapped chicken with apples and jalapeno. Joe is not sure if he is enough of a sucker to enjoy his poultry covered in bacon, but he admits that Jennifer has convinced him. Gordon is not a fan of the apple inside the chicken but says she makes it work. Still, he notes that she is two-and-a-half minutes short of the meat falling off the bone. Graham comments that the veggies are great.

The judges confer and decide that Jennifer's dish is the weakest, the undercooked chicken thigh is her downfall. They name Adrien's braised chicken on rice as the winning entree.

Gordon then announces that for the first time in "MasterChef" history, all three cooks are being invited into the pantry. The theme of tonight's elimination test is based on Joe's favorite ingredients: veal, mushrooms, and octopus.

Because Adrien won the Mystery Box Challenge, he gets to pick first. Christian will then choose from the remaining ingredients for himself, thus also determining what Jennifer will cook. Adrien selects the octopus, mainly because he doesn't want Christian to have the fish. Plus, he thinks it will make him stand out.

Christian takes the veal, because he thinks it leaves Jennifer at a disadvantage with the fungi. But when she reveals that she grew up in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, the mushroom capital of the world, Christian's plan to take her down is foiled.

When they return to the "MasterChef" kitchen all of the season's competitors are there to cheer them on to the finale. Ben selects Adrien as the frontrunner, declaring that he will "change the world of food as we know it." Christine wants Jennifer to be victorious because she "has passion and is in love with food." Suzy picks Christian as the winner because she wants to have lost to the best.

The other chefs retreat to the gallery to observe the three cooks as they prepare their dishes. Gordon cautions them, "If there's ever a time, not just to multi-task, but really create the most authentic, the most delicious, and visually the most stunning dish so far in this competition, it's now."

Adrien makes an octopus dish that he remembers eating as a kid, the first time he was blown away by food. Joe says that the fish is "the most challenging way to distinguish yourself." Gordon wonders about Christian's choice of veal, noting it could "bite him in the ass" because cooking meat is not his strong suit. Jennifer is making mushroom ragu over pasta, happy to prove to the boys she is a worthy opponent. In the last 15 minutes she switches from pappardelle pasta to ravioli.

When time is up, Adrien presents a pan-seared octopus with saffron rice and watercress salad. Chef Ramsay professes that the dish is "one of the most beautifully plated I've ever seen." He thinks that the rice is a disappointment but the octopus is delicious. Graham states he nailed it and Joe calls the dish amazing.

Christian brings forward his veal with vegetable medley and mashed potatoes. Joe questions why he would serve a bone-in chop over mashed potatoes and re-plates the dish. He comments, "There is vision missing especially at the semifinal round . . . but the flavors are good." Gordon thinks the vegetables are boring and it's not his best dish.

Jennifer approaches the judges with her mushroom ravioli with mushroom ragu. Gordon remarks that it is a dangerous attempt but is impressed when he cuts into the pasta; he says that the egg inside makes the perfect sauce.

After deliberating, the judges announce that Adrien is the first person to take a place in the final, leaving archenemies Christian and Jennifer standing side-by-side vying for the last spot. Jennifer moves forward to the final round of competition, making Christian the odd man out. Gordon tells him to follow his dream and get out there and earn his arrogance by getting some Michelin stars.

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