MasterChef Canada Recap: Cheesecake – A Cruel Mistress

We’re back to team challenges this week, and the home cooks all step up their game. The challenge is to create canapes for an art gallery show – one hot, one cold and one sweet. Since they will be feeding art lovers, presentation is more important than ever. Dora and Danielle, last week’s winners, get to pick their teams, with Dora going first. On Dora’s team is Carly, Mike, Tammara, Marida, and Julie. Danielle picks Dale, Josh, Eric, Pino and Kaila. Based on the picks I was sure that Danielle’s team had this challenge in the bag. I was very surprised, however, to see that Kaila was the last cook picked. How much more good food does she need to put out before people recognize that she can cook?

Both teams work pretty well together. There’s no big drama like the last team challenge. Dora gets a bit anxious at times, but Danielle is cool as a cucumber. Carly, who has previously gotten a bit panicked during challenges is calm, and even Dale is working hard at being a good team player. Kaila has a great idea for a substitution in one of her team’s dishes that wasn’t quite working.

Overall the prep seems to go smoothly. Alvin yells at people to hurry up and serve when it’s over, because no episode of a reality show is complete without someone raising their voice.

For the cold dish, Dora’s team serves caviar and creme fraiche on endive. People seem to enjoy it. It doesn’t seem like a very risky or creative dish, since the caviar is the star. Danielle’s team serves tuna tartare on a wonton crisp. The judges find the flavour a little flat. Danielle gets a few “I told you so” looks from her teammates who had wanted to season the wonton, but I’m not convinced this would have made all the difference. The judges seemed to like the wonton, the tuna probably needed more acid.

For the hot dish, Dora’s team serves an inside-out samosa. The judges deem this the best bite of the night. Danielle’s team serves a gorgeous purple potato chip with seared scallops which gets complimented for its presentation. People seem to like the taste too.

For dessert Dora’s team does a spicy orange petit four and  Danielle’s team makes a chocolate raspberry. Both are well received.

While the art gallery goers are asked their opinions on the food, the judges ultimately make the decision about which team wins. Both teams line up, hold hands and hold their breath as they await the results. This is another reason I couldn’t be on this show. I couldn’t make a face like this was a life or death decision in this situation. The winning team? Dora’s team! That samosa won it for them. I’m definitely surprised by this.

Back in the MasterChef kitchen, Danielle’s team is told that only 4 of them will compete in the Pressure Test. But rather than Danielle picking who gets saved (she had told the camera she would not save herself), the winning team gets to pick. Dora looks like she’s going to explode. Breathe, lady, you’re going to pass out. The team picks the people they believe are the weakest links to save – Eric and Pino. Tammara did not agree with saving Eric, but got overruled.

For the first time watching this show, I’m nervous. One of Danielle, Kaila, Dale or Josh is going home. These are four strong competitors and I thought they’d all go farther than this. The elimination challenge is cheesecake. One of my favourites. I make a mean pumpkin cheesecake. Josh has never made a cheesecake before, which doesn’t bode well; while Dale says he makes them all the time.

Josh decides to make a tropical passionfruit cheesecake, which sounds tasty. He’s constantly looking up to the cooks in the gallery for advice though. Danielle makes a key lime Limoncello cheesecake. Dale looks to be making a classic cheesecake with strawberries on top. Kaila goes further out of the box and uses chocolate, caramel and pecans. If I were in this, I’d be making a ginger-lime cheesecake with caramel. As the clock is ticking down, Josh is having trouble getting his cake unstuck from the pan (did he grease it?) and a chunk of the crust is left behind.

Judgement time. Dale is up first. Though he’s experienced with cheesecake, his presentation is lacking. The top has cracked, and the middle is sunken. The inside texture looks nice and creamy though, and the judges like the taste. He does get dinged for the basic recipe he used though. Next is Danielle, with the only one of the bunch that looks perfect. No cracks. She was smart and made a fairly thin cheesecake. The judges really like the look and flavours of Kaila’s cheesecake but they reprimand her for not honouring the main ingredient. Which is Philadelphia Cream Cheese, in case you missed all the product placement. Josh is last with his slumped tropical cheesecake. The flavour is good, but the judges can’t get past the presentation.

The judges deliberate and don’t seem to have too much trouble deciding who the winners and losers are. Danielle’s perfect looking cheesecake is deemed the best, meaning she has won two elimination challenges in a row. Kaila is also safe. Josh and Dale are in the bottom. Ultimately, Josh is eliminated. Pressure tests are about execution, and his sloppy looking cheesecake just didn’t cut it.

I’m very sorry to see Josh go, he has a lot of talent and I thought he’d go farther. Eleven are left.

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