MasterChef Episode Recaps

Winner Chosen

Winner Chosen

Aired: 8/16/11

The field has been narrowed down from thousands of home cooks to just the top two, who will now face off in the toughest challenge yet. Jennifer and Adrien will have to cook the best meals of their lives to determine who will become America's next "MasterChef." Will Jennifer be able to keep her emotions in check to take the crown? Or will Adrien stay true to his roots and the flavors that brought him this far to claim the title and $250,000?

The three judges - Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich - greet the final two contestants and welcome the chef's families to the "MasterChef" kitchen. Adrien's mother reminds him that the secret is "cooking with love." Jennifer hugs her family and can tell by the looks on their faces they are proud of her. Their loved ones are sent up to the galley to watch the chefs cook.

The two finalists take their places for the finale. Gordon informs them they have two hours to make an amazing appetizer, a stunning entree, and an extraordinary dessert. Up in the galley past contestants Ben and Christian are rooting for Adrien, while Christine and Esther pick Jennifer as the winner. Joe comments to the other judges, "We're going to really see the journey that they took today as far as the technique and the ingredients." Chef Ramsay notes, "It's not about one dish; it's about putting a menu together."

Jennifer is making pan-seared scallops for her appetizer, stuffed quail for her entree, and poached pears and cider apples for dessert. Joe calls it "a classic restaurant style dish."

Adrien is preparing a prawn starter, beer-braised short ribs for a main course, and a chocolate tart to end the meal. Joe remarks that he is "keeping his ethnicity in the menu . . . but [making it] more refined, more elegant."

Ten minutes into the competition Joe puts his money on Jennifer's menu, while Graham selects Adrien. The judges worry that Adrien is using too much chili throughout is meal. Joe wonders why Jennifer chose to do such a light dessert for the finale.

Gordon thinks poaching fruit sounds boring, and that chocolate is a sexier dessert for wooing a judge. As Adrien removes his cakes from the oven they sink, but he explains to Gordon that he has a plan for them.

When time runs out, the judges retreat to the "MasterChef" restaurant to taste the final dishes. Both contestants are confident in their cooking. They will present their food one course at a time. The person with the best overall meal will take the title.

Jennifer's appetizer is pan-seared scallops with quail egg, creamed corn, and pea puree. Gordon claims that she achieved a "damn near perfect sear on the scallop." Graham finds a muscle abductor still attached to a scallop, but the judges are still impressed with her dish.

Adrien's starter is spot prawn taquitos with avocado sauce, masago and a medley of micro-greens. Joe says, "The flavors are extremely bright, perhaps too bright." Graham says that the dish is delicious. Gordon compliments Adrien on how far he has come with his plating, but says he struggles with not being able to taste the prawn.

Next up is the entree course. Jennifer presents a jalapeno and apricot stuffed quail with creamy potatoes and spinach. Gordon tells her it is a "bold move braising quail," but that she did it beautifully. He points out, "You've got a sexy vibe . . . You've nailed it." Graham describes the dish as "awesome," while Joe contends it "shows a lot of sophistication, a lot of courage [and] a lot of technique."

Adrien then brings them beer-braised short ribs with cauliflower-parsnip puree and rainbow chard. Gordon hopes that it tastes as good as it looks, and then confesses that it brings tears to his eyes - it's "absolutely delicious." Graham declares that he took $3 per pound short ribs and "turned it into something that you could charge easily $35 plus for as an entree." Joe adds, "You deserve to be commended."

As the cooks go to the kitchen to get their desserts, the judges discuss the entrees. Joe is "wowed" by the ribs, although Gordon states there is little skill making food with a pressure cooker. Graham notes Jennifer's dish displays much "technique and skill."

Finally, the cooks serve their desserts. Jennifer makes a braised pear with poached apples and mascarpone. Graham says, "It leaves a little to be desired." Joe admits he's a sucker for mascarpone but dubs this dish a "pre-dessert." According to Chef Ramsay, "It doesn't jump on my palate. It's a big anticlimax . . . and doesn't deserve to sit anywhere near the other dishes on your menu."

Adrien brings the judges his flourless chocolate cake infused with blood orange, passion fruit, and chipotle. Graham is expecting something more moist. Joe says, "Everything that your entree was, this is not." Chef Ramsay feels disappointed "coming off the back of that stunning short rib."

Now that the final dish has been presented, The Chef Ramsay applauds both cooks, "On the whole, well-done." The judges are disappointed by both desserts, but based on the overall meal, they must now choose a winner. They go back to the kitchen to tell the contestants their decision.

Gordon professes, "We didn't see a cook-off between a waiter and a real estate agent. We watched two very professional chefs engage in a genuine culinary battle . . . You have every right to call yourselves chefs." He invites both cooks to swap places with them and stand on the "MasterChef" stage.

He compliments Adrien's natural ability and Jennifer's fearless attitude. He announces that the winner of "MasterChef" is Jennifer. She remarks, "It's a thousand dreams come true."

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