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Top 4 Compete

Top 4 Compete

Aired: 8/28/12

The final four home cooks -- Becky, Josh, Christine and Frank -- will face their toughest challenge yet, right in the MasterChef kitchen. Their diners will consist of just six individuals -- Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich, along with three guests.

The first of the visiting VIP judges is Chef Guy Savoy, who own six restaurants worldwide, has received eight Michelin stars and was Gordon's culinary mentor. The second guest is Chef Daniel Boulud, who owns seven of New York's most acclaimed restaurants and has four Michelin stars to his credit, as well as six best-selling cookbooks. Lastly, Chef Alain Ducasse joins the panel. With a staggering total of 21 Michelin stars, he is one of only two chefs globally who has been awarded more Michelin stars than Gordon. As Graham says, "Anyone in the world would be honored and terrified to cook for these three guest judges."

The four contestants will be split into teams of two and must make a three-course dinner. Since Christine won the last elimination challenge, she gets to pick her teammate. Joe warns her that if she loses this challenge, she will have to cook against her partner in a head-to-head Pressure Test. But she declares that she does not want to go into this thinking about losing and instead wants to concentrate on winning. She picks Becky to cook by her side, leaving adversaries Josh and Frank as their opponents.

The two teams have 90 minutes in which to conceptualize, prepare and serve their meal. They must first present an appetizer, then 30 minutes later they must plate their entrees, and in another half-hour they must conclude with a stunning dessert.

On the Blue Team, Josh and Frank struggle to get it together, since in the last elimination Frank said he would save Josh but then turned around and protected himself instead. They bicker right from the beginning over technique. Christine and Becky decide on an Asian-themed menu and appear to work very well together.

The judges are worried about the men's gelatin-based vegetable dish but are excited about the technique the women are using for their halibut. They feel the men are taking bigger risks, which could give them an edge in the competition if they are successful.

When time is up, the appetizers are presented to the six judges. The women have prepared a Thai seafood soup. Alain feels the dish is not properly seasoned, while Daniel thinks it's delicate. The Blue Team has made a spring vegetable terrine. Guy does not like the imbalance between vegetable and gelée. The round goes to the Red Team hands down.

In the meantime, the contestants are preparing the entrees and struggle to get them plated in time. Becky does not get the rice cakes on every dish before the clock runs out, and she fears this will be their downfall. The women's duck with crispy bamboo rice gets mixed reviews from the judges. But the Blue Team's stuffed lamb saddle is called amazing and perfect. It wins the point for the Blue Team.

As the judges taste the entrees, the home cooks are busy concocting their desserts. First up is Becky and Christine's coconut verrine with guava coulis. Daniel is impressed by the presentation. The Blue Team's white-chocolate mousse is criticized for its inconsistencies in plating but praised for its explosive flavor.

Once the judges complete the tastings, they have a chance to ask both teams some questions before deciding on the winners. Alain drills Becky and Christine about the lack of seasoning in the soup. Graham tells Josh and Frank the vegetables felt trapped in the gelée concoction. They call Becky out for leaving a rice cake off one plate, while they commend the men for the perfect lamb. Finally they praise the women's dessert, but they question the men's presentation. Joe calls it "an argument on a plate" and says it reveals the disharmony between the people who created it.

After conferring, the judges make their decision. Chef Boulud delivers the good news that Becky and Christine prepared the best meal. The will move on to the semifinals. As the losing team, Josh and Frank will now face a head-to-head Pressure Test.

They are asked to make a sumptuous white-cheddar cheese soufflé in 60 minutes. While mastering this dish is already difficult, the judges throw in a twist. Joe decides he doesn't want a cheese soufflé. Instead, he wants a raspberry one. And, to kick it up a notch, Graham wants a dark-chocolate version of the dish.

As they cook, the judges say that it's next to impossible to make one perfect soufflé, let alone three. They say the trick is in getting the egg whites perfect and starting the bases going immediately. As the seconds wind down, Josh gets his soufflés into the oven very late, but Frank remains cool thinking he has the timing right.

The two cooks approach the judges' table with their dishes. Gordon starts by inspecting both cheese soufflés. Graham tries the chocolate, and Joe digs into the raspberry. No critiques or praise are offered during the tasting. They ask a few questions of the two men before stepping aside to deliberate.

Gordon tells them they both presented three stunning soufflés. The judges decide that Frank served the best cheese soufflé, but Josh had the perfect raspberry version. The chocolate dessert will determine the winner.

In the end, Josh is declared the winner and will move on to the final three. Having lost this challenge, Frank is asked to leave the MasterChef kitchen.

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