This week, the MasterChef hopefuls had their first team challenge. Reality show history tells us that team work in individual competitions doesn’t generally go very well. The job gets done, but the process isn’t pretty. This was no exception.
The challenge was to cook lunch for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Each team had to make both a fish and a pasta dish. Last weeks’ challenge winners – Pino and Dale – were team leaders and got to pick their teams. But before teams are picked, we learn that Danny is sick and needs to sit out this challenge. Can’t have the hockey players getting sick. This sucks for Danny as he seemed pretty stoked to cook for the Leafs and not participating means that he will have to participate in the Pressure Test and risk elimination with the losing team.
Pino gets to lead off the team picks and Marida is his first choice. This seems smart since she won the first challenge. Also joining Pino’s team are Julie, Tamarra, Carly, Dora and Danielle. It looks like a strong team. Dale picks Eric firsts, who I thought was a great first pick, and then picks the rest of the pretty boys. The rest of Dales’ team is Brooke, Mike, Josh and Kaila. No one seems concerned that Pino’s team having 7 cooks to Dale’s 6 might be a bit of an advantage when cooking for 51 people.
Pino’s team looks like they get off to a good start, quickly deciding on what they’re making. Dale’s team, on the other hand, gets off to a slower start as Dale vetoes his team’s suggestions. Not that I disagree with him. Who wants to eat kale? Dale makes a poor decision in not looking at his fish choices before deciding on one. He ends up picking the trout, which needs to be deboned, rather than the pickerel which was already filleted and ready to go.
The judges come into the kitchen to question what the teams are doing and provide some suspense. The potatoes aren’t done yet, will they be done in time? Is Pino’s decision to cook his pasta in the sauce going to work? Yes and yes, everything turns out fine.
Dale’s kitchen is spiraling into chaos town, as he yells directions and seems generally unimpressed with the other cooks’ inability to read his mind. Then there’s a call for medics, as Kaila has cut her finger while slicing tomatoes. While she’s getting bandaged up, Dale’s kitchen is down to 5 cooks to finish prep and start plating. There’s even more drama as Dale wants everything plated beautifully, but doesn’t seem to want to tell people how to accomplish this.
Finally, it’s time to serve. The Maple Leafs come in, including some alumni. The judges talk to the players during lunch, asking their opinions on the food. Of the opinions we hear, it looks like both teams made some good food. Each player then votes for their favourite team’s dish. The way the results are given is completely overdone and must have taken an hour of real time to get through. The cooks and judges back to the rink where there is a net for each team. Junior hockey players come out and shoot pucks into the nets, to represent each vote cast. At the beginning, it’s Dale’s team which is scoring the most points… but then things turn around and Pino’s team takes the competition 26-11 (we don’t get to find out who the remaining 14 votes go to).
This means Dale’s team is headed to a pressure test, where the cook who makes the worst dish will be sent home. Dale makes it very clear he’s not here to make friends. It doesn’t matter if his leadership style was lacking, he’s not going to take the fall. His team seems pretty quick to place the blame on him, while he is even quicker at deflecting it. And this is where things get dumb, though not surprising. In most shows that have team challenge (like Top Chef) the leader of the losing team takes a lot of blame, and will often be the one to go home. For some reason, MasterChef likes to give the leader an out though. Dale is told that only 5 people will participate in the pressure test, so he can save two people. He saves himself first. Surprise! Not the honorable thing to do, but he wants to win, this isn’t about honor. He announces the second person he will save is the weakest person who he can take out later (rude much? think it, don’t say it). We think he means Kaila, but he’s actually talking about Danny.
His team is pissed. They are going to cook the hell out of this pressure test. The test? Uova da raviolo. Ouch. It’s a beautiful dish, but very technically demanding. As the test progresses we see that Kaila looks surprisingly comfortable with the challenge. So does Josh. Brooke’s nerves seem to be getting the better of her, Mike lives in a gluten-free household and pasta is not his thing, and Eric is just massacring his eggs while trying to separate the yolks.
Now, I don’t have confirmation of this, but I figure the cooks must be given some kind of recipe or demonstration on how to make these dishes before the pressure tests. If you’ve never made this before, how would you how long to cook the pasta to make sure the egg doesn’t cook through? Or what if you’ve never made pasta before.
Judgement time. Kaila’s ravioli looks perfect, with a nice runny egg yolk in the center. Leung announces that she can cook. Josh’s dish is also very nice, though lacks Parmesan. Eric’s ravioli itself looks nice, but he put too much sage and onion in the sauce. He also didn’t use any Parmesan. Brooke’s pasta is a bit thick and underdone. She also seemed to run out of time, as there is barely any sauce on the plate and no Parmesan. Mike’s dish doesn’t fare very well as the judges complain about too-thick pasta dough.
The winner of the challenge? Kaila! She showed all the doubters on this test, let’s see how she does next episode. Josh is the runner up, while Eric’s ravioli wasn’t perfect, but was good enough to not land in the bottom (phew, I was worried after seeing him drop all his eggs). It’s down to Brooke and Mike. The judges thought that Brooke’s mistakes were worse and send her home (after making poor Mike think it was him, I hate that shit).
Brooke leaves the competition and we’re down to 13. I’m thinking many people will be going after Dale in the coming episodes. His leadership might not be great, but I think his cooking will let him dodge a few bullets.
This episode has inspired me to cook uova da raviolo myself. I’ll be sure to post the results.