MasterChef Canada Recap: Dim Sum Duos

It’s down to the final nine. Eric, Kaila, Mike, Julie, Tamarra, Pino, and Marida are left. This week we have a mystery box challenge. The chefs lift the mystery boxes on their stations to reveal… nothing! They will have use of the whole pantry for this challenge. The big mystery box at the front of the kitchen is opened up to reveal a big tank of lobsters. Most of the cooks seems excited about this ingredient, except for Julie who has never cooked it before.

While most of the chefs go the Italian route – here be many risotto – Tamarra decides to go something different and a  Caribbean-Asian fusion plate. Mike makes a deconstructed lobster roll, and I’m not exactly sure what Julie is doing. She looks totally out of her element. The judges find a number of things to pick at. Tamarra – why did you bring out so many different ingredients? (Because she was deciding between two dishes). Pino – why are you using stock from a carton for your risotto? (Good question).  As the time wind down, all the dishes are looking good. Except for Julie’s. It looks like she’s put the whole lobster tail, complete with the shell on a plate of rice. Err.

The first dish the judges want to taste is Mike’s. His deconstructed lobster roll looks lovely – capers, paprika corn,  tomato aioli, on nice, toasty slices of bread. The judges like the flavours and the creativity. Tamarra is called up next. Her butter poached lobster with Thai mango slaw seems like a hit. The third person called up is Eric, who made lobster risotto with cremini mushrooms. His risotto was perfect, while the lobster was slightly overcooked. The win goes to Mike.

The prize for winning this Mystery Box challenge is a little different. Mike gets immunity, but he does not get to pick what the other cooks will be making. It is already decided that the course du jour will be dim sum. There’s a twist to this challenge. The cooks won’t be preparing the dim sum on their own – they will be partnered up and tag team prepare the meal. Mike’s prize is that he gets to pick who will be cooking together. He makes what looks like the smartest, and most evil choices.

Tamarra and Pino are paired up, with Mike hoping that they will butt heads since they are both often team leaders. Eric is the one with the most dim sum experience, so it makes sense to try to stress him out by pairing him with Kaila. Marida and Julie are paired up as neither of them cooks much Cantonese cuisine.

Pino and Tamarra work together fantastically. Tamarra has more experience with dim sum and Pino lets her direct him through the challenge. Smart move. And I love seeing people be supportive of each other and work together without drama, it’s refreshing.

Eric and Kaila are somewhat explosive, with Kaila alternately giving directions and  encouragement; and Eric flailing around, moving too fast and dropping things.

Marida seems to be carrying her team. She’s giving Julie very specific instructions, while Julie doesn’t seem to know what she’s doing. She can’t use the mandolin, she doesn’t use the egg wash Marida prepared to wrap the spring rolls.

When the time is up, two of the teams are all cheers and hugs, while Marida and Julie aren’t even acknowledging one another. And they’ve only got 4 out of the 5 dishes on their platter. It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to guess how this will end.

Marida and Julie are judged first. Some of their dim sum is tasty and well made, but the missing shrimp rolls and greasy spring rolls are a problem. Tamarra and Pino are next, and their platter looks great. Eric and Kaika are judges last. Chef Leung gives Eric a hard time for losing it during the challenge and tells him that Kaila was the thing that calmed him down. Eric’s “thank you, Kaila” after that was the most forced thing I’ve ever seen. Leung also harshly criticizes their shrimp dumpling, though that honestly seems to be just to make people question if Marida and Julie are for sure going to be in the bottom.

Of course Marida and Julie are in the bottom. A lackluster Har Gao doesn’t compare to a missing Har Gao. When asked, Julie admits that she didn’t deserve half the credit for her dim sum platter. Oh yeah, Pino and Tamarra won the challenge. Obviously.

There isn’t much suspense when it comes down to whether Marida or Julie will be going home. Chef Bonacini’s attempts at misdirection are feeble, and he announces that Julie is done in the competition.

Julie had a number of good days in the MasterChef kitchen, but on Monday she just seemed completely out of her element.

Now there are only 6 cooks left and the next team challenge will be restaurant wars, which is always exciting.

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