MasterChef: Heads Up

The 8 remaining home cooks walk into the MasterChef kitchen this week and are greeted by two sets of large boxes: one labeled “vegetables” and one labelled “meat.”  This team challenge is captained by last week’s winners, Hetal and Tommy.  They’ll be cooking for 50 people dining in the MasterChef kitchen.

Tommy gets the first pick for his team and surprised everyone when he picks the urban gardener himself, Stephen.  Hetal snatches up Derrick for her pick.  Tommy then selects Katrina for his team.  Hetal picks Olivia.  Tommy takes Nick to complete the red team, and Claudia goes over to Hetal’s blue team.  Then they open the boxes.  Stephen is particularly happy at the beautiful plethora of fresh veggies.  Hetal is too, but she’s even happier when they open the meat box… which is empty!  That’s right, it’s the first ever MasterChef vegetarian challenge!

For the vegetarian diners, the team’s create:

IMG_8883Captain of the blue team, Hetal, has a definite direction.  She’s the vegetarian and should have this challenge on lock.  She goes Indian, but her team is unfamiliar with the flavors, thus can’t get enough direction from her.  The rice goes wrong, but the plate looks beautiful when all is said and done.

His teammates’ suggestions form the dish, Tommy finds his voice with the red team eventually.  (Read: he straight up tells Katrina to shut up.  And she does!)  Service goes particularly well with Tommy heading up plating, and he leads his team to victory! He even gets a smile out of Stephen when he plants a kiss on his cheek.

Bad day for the vegetarian.  And it’s about to get even worse.

The pressure test is the polar opposite.  Hetal, Derrick, Claudia, and Olivia find themselves in front of four different sized boxes.  Hetal’s reveals a sheep’s head, Derrick’s a halibut’s, Claudia’s a pig’s, and Olivia’s a horrifying cow’s.  Something from these heads must feature in each of their dishes.

This unlikely friendship was a supreme delight!

This unlikely friendship was a supreme delight!

Hetal is clearly uncomfortable, but with the lamb she’s actually gotten her best option.  She’s dissected a sheep’s head, she notes, but lamb is also pretty common in Indian cuisine, where she’s comfortable.  Derrick has probably the easiest one to work with, but with a short cooking time and Derrick’s tenacity, many expect him to overthink it.  He mentions smoked mango balls when the judges’ come asking, setting off Tommy and Stephen into snickers.  Claudia is beyond confident with pork being so important to her culturally.  She’s roasted whole pigs and has a plan of action.  Olivia is not a natural fit for a cow head, but she too formulates a plan and attempts something with the confidence of a MasterChef.

Here are the results:

IMG_8884

  • Hetal is always miraculously able to do wonderful things with meat, but Gordon thinks the other elements on the plate are confusing.
  • Derrick did overthink it, but the halibut is cooked perfectly.  The rest of plate’s components are doubled-up.
  • Claudia knocks it out of the park.  Christina just loves it.
  • Gordon notes Olivia’s dish looks like it came out of a bistro, but there’s no way of telling what the meat is… and that is the point of the challenge.

Olivia is sent packing.  It’s sad, because Olivia has been a pure joy to watch.  She’s grown a lot and made some very impressive dishes.  She leaves with more confidence than ever, saying the journey– the time spent with Gordon, Graham, and Christina– was really the reward.

Who do you think will be next to go?!

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