MasterChef Canada Recap: Danger Zone

The competition is down to the top 10, so things are getting even tougher. It becomes clear that tensions are mounting and the competitor’s patience with each other is fraying. What better time for a team challenge?

This week’s team challenge takes the cooks to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, where they needed to cook for 151 soldiers. Each team needed to prepare steak along with a sauce and 2 sides. But first the teams needed to be chosen. As the winners last week, Kaila and Pino are the team leaders. Kaila’s first pick is Dale. Though it seemed like they were about to kill each other in their first team challenge together, it seems like they’ve become close over the past weeks. Kaila also picks Danielle, Julie and Marida. Pino selects Carly, Tammara, Eric and Mike.

I’ll be honest. Most team challenges bore the hell out of me, and this was the worst one yet. It’s not really about executing great dishes, it’s more about teamwork as well as time and resource management. I know these are important skills for a chef to have, but they aren’t entertaining. I want to see amazing food, not watch people struggle to cook basic dishes in an unfamiliar military field kitchen.

Anyways.

Pino’s team decides to serve brussel sprouts and cous cous salad with their steak. Kaila’s team serves brussel sprouts and potatoes, along with a barbecue sauce. Marida and Danielle have disagreements about how to increase the flavour of the sauce, but their main problem is lack of time to prepare it properly, as it does not cook down enough.

As the teams are serving the soldiers, Kaila’s team starts running out of sides. First the brussel sprouts run out, then the potatoes. The last few people served only get steak. Pino’s team doesn’t run out of food, but at least one of their steaks comes back because it’s too cold.  No one has much to say about the taste or quality of the food, besides basic comments about liking one team’s dish more than the others. It seems to come down to the fact that many people did not get a full meal from Kaila’s team and Pino’s team wins with 107 of the 151 votes. Kaila, Dale, Danielle, Marida and Julie are headed for the Pressure Test.

There’s a bit of a blow up in the losing team. When the judges question why their team ran out of food, Julie blames Kaila, saying that she had told them to stop prepping the sides before they were done. Kaila blames Julie, as she was the one portioning out the potatoes. Fight, fight, fight. The judges tell them that only 4 people will participate in the Pressure Test and ask Kaila who she would save, if it was up to her. Kaila would save herself. Which is smart. Unfortunately, it’s not up to her, as the team needs to reach a consensus on who will be saved. They go into a room where they can argue, I mean discuss, among themselves. They decide that each person will vote for the person they want to save, but can’t vote for themselves. Two people vote to save Danielle, while two vote to save Marida. Kaila does not want to play by their rules and keeps voting for herself. Julie does some epic eye rolling.

Eventually Kaila gives in and a decision is reached. With 3 votes Marida is sent to the safety of the gallery, while Kaila, Danielle, Julie and Dale have to cook their way into the top 9. The Pressure Test is to make a perfect salmon Wellington.

Here’s my other problem with team challenges. We don’t get to see enough individual cooking from the winners. After this pressure test, we will have seen Kaila and Dale participate 3 times, and Danielle twice. On the other hand, Marida, Carly and Tamarra have never participated in one of these, so I don’t feel like I know as much about them or what they’re capable of. It makes it hard for me to cheer for (or against) some people because I just haven’t seen enough of them.

Alright, tangents done, I promise.

Julie sounds confident when the challenge is announced, but spends a lot of time looking up to the people in the gallery for advice. Kaila looks a bit scared, though that seems to be her normal look. Danielle works diligently and quietly, until she slices her finger open. Even that doesn’t seem to phase her too much as she calmly calls for the medic. She does seem upset that she has to lose some time getting fixed up, but quickly goes back to work once it’s done. Dale is confident with the dish, but the judges seem unsure about some of his decisions, like the use of chard stalks rather than just the leaves.

Wellingtons are very tough. Besides having to deal with puff pastry, they also need to be cooked blindly. You have no idea how well done your meat is until you serve and cut into it.

Right as time is running out Kaila squirts too much sauce onto her Wellington, then unleashed a hilariously long string of obscenities that need to be bleeped out.

Dale is up first once the challenge has ended. The salmon is cooked perfectly, but the pastry is undercooked. This had to have been made even worse by his choice to plate the Wellington on top of a slick of sauce. The judges also mention the chard stalks have made the dish quite bitter. Danielle is up next and her Wellington looks great. The pastry is perfectly golden. The judges don’t find anything to complain about. Julie’s dish doesn’t look the best – it’s huge and brick-like, but is cooked and seasoned well. Kaila is judged last. The judges seem to like the cook on the fish and the flavours, but the dough isn’t cooked enough.  After all 4 dishes are tasted, they deliberate.

Danielle winds up with the best Wellington of the bunch. She is just killing these challenges. She’s quiet, but obviously very talented. Julie is also safe from elimination, and she looks vindicated in her win over Kaila. So it’s down to Kaila and Dale. One of them is going home.  After a quick fake out, the judges announce that Kaila’s dish was slightly more refined, so Dale will be leaving the competition.

I really liked Dale, though he did seem to be on thin ice for the last few challenges, so I think the judges made the right decision.

After this week, I’m thinking that Danielle could win the whole thing. I hope she continues to do well.

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