MasterChef

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MON 8/7c MAY 19

MasterChef Episode Recaps

Top 15 Compete

Top 15 Compete

Aired: 6/27/11

The 15 remaining home cooks enter the "MasterChef" kitchen and are assigned their second Mystery Box Challenge. They have 60 minutes to present an absolutely fantastic dish using only the ingredients hidden under their boxes. Judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich will then choose the three best-looking plates and taste only those three dishes. The winner will receive an advantage in the upcoming dessert-themed challenge.

The contestants lift up their boxes to reveal a rack of New Zealand lamb, peaches, cauliflower, fava beans, feta, rice, chili peppers, tarragon, creme fraiche, and piecrust. Gordon says that the Mystery Box Challenge is where we "separate the men from the boys." Joe points out that to be successful in this round, the competitors need to have "a combination of intelligence and speed. You've got to conceptualize and execute [and] not second-guess yourself."

Alejandra prepares a curried rack of lamb and peach chutney. Graham wonders if she roasted the lamb too soon, but she explains that she wants to give it time to rest so that it's juicy. In the last ten minutes, Jennifer, doubting her choices after a comment from Graham, decides to try to cook a whole rack of lamb, instead of sticking with her lollipop plan. She runs out of time and ends up with undercooked meat. When the judging begins, Gordon singles out her dish as the worst. Joe gets angry, ranting that her lamb is raw, and it would be dangerous to serve.

The first cook that the judges choose as among the best is Alejandra and her curried rack of lamb, peach chutney, rice pilaf, and cauliflower steak. Gordon remarks she that she didn't just make one stunning dish - she made four. The judges name Adrien's farmer's market lamb as the "the most restaurant-ready dish." Joe states that the food tastes like "fireworks on your palate." The final cook to make the top three is Tracy, with a sweet and salty lamb and feta. Graham calls it hers the "most beautiful plating skills we've seen."

But the winner is Adrien, and the judges escort him to the pantry and reveal his advantage in the next challenge. From a selection of coffee, pineapple, and nuts, he gets to choose the one ingredient that he will feature in a dessert-themed challenge and a second ingredient that everyone else must build a dish around. He picks nuts as his ingredient and assigns coffee to the rest of the cooks. Gordon jokes, "Is there anyone who is jealous of Adrien's nuts?"

After 90 minutes, the judges will taste all 15 dishes, and in the end one competitor will be sent home. Gordon, Joe, and Graham size up the contestants as they prepare their sweet treats. Alvin is making a beignet with coffee spheres in a liquid center. Joe screams, "Make us dessert that's not a chemistry experiment!" With only ten minutes left, Christine abandons an uncooked tart and begins making a mousse moments before the clock runs out.

Adrien is up first before the judges, presenting his chocolate nut torte with berry coulis. Graham comments that it seems more like he "chose chocolate as his ingredient and the nuts are just a garnish." Joe remarks, "You took an incredible advantage and squandered it."

Next up is Christine's six-minute chocolate espresso mousse. Gordon commends her on salvaging herself and the dessert. Max presents his torte du crepes. Gordon colorfully describes the dish saying, "It's like I've just gone to the doctors and got a skin graft on my butt - and stuck it in caramel." This begins a string of poorly executed desserts, including Alejandra's black-bottom coffee cream tart and Jennie's coffee-infused tart, which Gordon calls "an embarrassment."

After a warning from Joe that at this stage of the game they should be doing better, the judges look for someone to redeem the group. Tracy delivers with her espresso chocolate flourless cake. Joe calls it "amazing," and Gordon states that it's the kind of dessert he would put on his menu. "It's got that 'wow' factor."

Esther's coffee cheesecake, Suzy's chocolate coffee brownie with hand-rolled chocolate truffles, and Jennifer's coffee creme brulee with white chocolate and berries also please the judges.

Alvin is the final contestant to the plate, with his coffee-filled beignets, which he's prepared using unusual molecular gastronomy techniques. Gordon dubs it "a coffee blood clot," and Graham concludes that dishes like this give the innovative style of cooking a bad name.

Having tasted all 15 dishes, the judges name the top two, Esther and Tracy, who will become team captains in the next challenge. The bottom three dishes are Jennie's coffee-infused tart, Alvin's science experiment beignets and Max's torte du crepes, which Joe says was "one of the most disgusting things that perhaps I've ever tasted."

Jennie's offering was the least offensive, and she's spared for this week, but two of the presumed strongest players in the game are now standing head-to-head facing elimination. In the end Alvin is asked to return his apron and leave. Gordon tells him that he's "courageous, but you must understand the basics before you become adventurous."

Many of the players are in tears over Alvin's departure, but Gordon wonders why they all look so sad when they've made it to the final 14. He warns them to get some rest before the next round: "You're going to need it."

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