MasterChef Episode Recaps

Top 16 Compete

Top 16 Compete

Aired: 6/21/11

The remaining 16 chefs arrive at the Los Angeles Times building to face their first team challenge. They meet judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich, who welcome them to one of the busiest cafeterias in city.

Their team challenge is to create a five-course meal for the busy office workers in the building. The service must consist of soup, salad, pizza, a special entrée, and dessert. The chefs will be given two-and-a-half hours to prep and two hours to serve 350 guests.

The 16 competitors split into two teams, which are chosen by Max and Derrick, who had the best dishes in the previous Elimination Challenge. Max, age 18, uses speed and experience as his criteria when he selects Christian for the Blue Team, while Derrick picks Suzy for the Red Team because he believes in her ability as a chef.

Max also chooses Alejandra and then Giuseppe, because he believes the Italian-born cook "can make a pizza pie." He rounds out his team with Tony, Tracy, Esther, and Jennifer. Derrick adds Adrien, Alvin, Ben, Erryn, Jennie, and Jennifer to his group.

It's time for the competition to begin. But first Chef Ramsay warns that the losing team will face the show's first Pressure Test. Following that, at least one person will be eliminated.

The teams rush to the kitchens to plan their menus. On the Red Team, Suzy suggests that they make lasagna as their entrée, even though she's never made it before. As the rest of her group seems to have a handle on their courses, Suzy struggles with her "mom-style" lasagna.

In the meantime, Max takes charge of the Blue Team. But when they realize that they only have full-size buns for their mini sliders, Tony starts making large patties, which Max does not agree with.

Gordon tells his fellow judges that he thinks the big player of the day will be the pizzas. Joe feels that the Red Team's choice to go with a risky tomato sauce-less white pizza is "a little too opinionated," while Giuseppe's arugula and prosciutto pie is like a "hit list of the greatest Italian ingredients."

The cafeteria opens for business. When a customer orders a course, they receive a plate from each team. At the end of service, each diner will vote for the dish they like best. Whichever team wins the most courses will be safe from competing in the Pressure Test.

With the lunch rush bearing down on him, Giuseppe struggles with his pizza output. As a result, Joe has to turn diners away with empty dishes, which means an automatic point for the Red Team each time.

The Blue Team also falls behind with their burger service. But when Max re-cooks Tony's burgers and then transports them on a dirty cookie sheet, they all must be thrown away. Following the mistake, the Blue Team runs out of meat and has to make a last-minute switch to serving chicken sandwiches.

The votes are tallied, and Suzy's fear that her lasagna has done in the Red Team are assuaged when they win the salad, pizza, and dessert courses. The Blue Team will have to take the Pressure Test.

The next day, Joe reveals that the next challenge is to cook the judges a perfect ravioli dish. Each chef will have 60 minutes to prepare a simple ravioli with spinach and ricotta filling from scratch. The dish must be finished with a straightforward butter sauce so that the cooks cannot disguise bad pasta. Every chef is given the exact same ingredients and will be judged on consistency of the dough and filling, construction of the ravioli, technique, and overall flavor.

Although it might seem like he'd have an advantage, Giuseppe confesses that he doesn't eat ravioli. His pasta is too thick for Chef Ramsay's taste, and Graham criticizes his filling-to-dough ratio.

Joe is concerned when he learns that Jennifer has added the potentially overpowering spice nutmeg to her dough. Esther struggles to make her pasta thin enough as the clock ticks down. And even though Max is running out of time, he makes a second batch to get the dough just right.

Some chefs shine during the judging. Gordon tells Max that his decision to start again paid off. And he calls Alejandra's dish "one of the best raviolis I've tasted anywhere."

On the flip side, several chefs struggle. Joe tells Tony that his raviolis are so far off track that he can't even give an evaluation. Jennifer's dough does suffer from the addition of the nutmeg. And when Chef Ramsay asks Esther if there's egg yolk in her odd-tasting filling, she can't recall her ingredients. The three chefs find themselves up for elimination.

Tony and Jennifer are asked to step forward. Despite the fact that Esther didn't know what was in her filling, Chef Ramsay thinks that she nailed the pasta technically, and she's sent through to the next round.

Although he feels that they each hold a lot of strength in the competition, Gordon explains that both Tony's and Jennifer's dishes are lacking. After a few tense moments where her fate seems precarious, the judges allow Jennifer to stay in the competition.

Tony is sent home, but Chef Ramsay tells him to stop being a trucker and to follow his dream. Inspired by the respect he earned from the judges, Tony says that he's going to open a little chalkboard restaurant with his wife.

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