MasterChef Recap: Tin Cans and Twinkle Toes

There are 16 home cooks left and it’s time for another Mystery Box challenge. I always like these. The cooks lift their boxes to reveal a whole lot of canned food. Making things more challenging is the fact that all the labels have been removed, so they won’t know what’s  inside until they open them.  The cooks are tasked with creating a delicious dish using the mystery cans along with a small pantry of basic ingredients. I thought they were going to go the Top Chef route with this challenge and tell the cooks that they needed to use any can they opened. That would have made things much more interesting. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and the only downside to opening a lot of cans is the time is takes to do it.

Some people seem ready to take on the challenge, while others, like Jamiee seems stumped. A number of people decide to make soups. Ahran is the only cook who recognizes that the pantry of ingredients provided is exactly what you need to bake a cake. The judges call up three dishes they’d like to taste. First up is Elizabeth, who made creamy borscht with peas and ham. It looks nothing like borscht (this is coming from someone who had to eat a lot of it as a kid), but the judges really like it. Next up is Victoria, who used a lot of different canned ingredients to make meat fritters. This is the first time Elizabeth and Victoria have been called up; it’s nice to see some new faces. The third person called up is Ahran, who made a sponge cake with fruit salad and whipped cream filling. The judges think Ahran’s dish was the smartest. I agree that making a dessert was smart, but using only one of the 52 available mystery cans seems like a bit of a cop-out to me.

Elizabeth is announced as the winner of the Mystery Box challenge and she gets to go into the pantry to decide the fates of the other cooks. Once there she meets previous MasterChef winner Luca, and MasterChef Junior winner Alexander. They each present their signature dish, which the competitors will have to re-create. Luca’s dish is prosciutto wrapped veal and Alexander’s is passion fruit panna cotta. Elizabeth will get to decide which dish each of the other cooks will have to make. Her strategy is to make the people she thinks lack finesse make the dessert, while the people with weaker palates will make the veal.

Big Willie gets chosen to the make the veal and right away Gordon jumps on him for searing his veal before wrapping it, with the plan to re-sear it after. Too much cooking will make for very dry meat, but Willie continues with his plan (whether he’s purposely ignoring Gordon or just doesn’t have the ingredients left to start again is unknown). He might have one foot out the door. But don’t worry, by the end of the episode at least 5 feet are told they are out the door. Jamiee also run into trouble. She put 3 panna cotta ramekins in the blast chiller, but when she goes to retrieve them, there are only two. Dun dun dun. We’re left to wonder, who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

Soon enough the cooking time is over and the judges start calling people up to present their dishes. Courtney is up first. I think she made veal, but it’s hard to focus on anything other than her sparkly Louboutin’s, which the camera person seems to be having a love affair with. How does she stand and cook in those things for so long? They sure are pretty, but please, think of your poor musculoskeletal system! The judges love her food, as usual. Next up is Willie who, as expected, has cooked all the moisture out of his veal. Christian put too much gelatin in his panna cotta, and it completely throws the texture off. Cutter presents a very respectable panna cotta, even though he had never even eaten a panna cotta before this.  Jamiee, on the other hand, presents a panna cotta puddle. It did not set at all, though it tastes good. She mentions that she wishes she had all three of her ramekins and Gordon gets a twinkle in his eye. I think someone’s about to put his Sherlock Holmes deerstalker on and solve this mystery!

Next up is Tyler. His dessert did not set either. Gordon announces that for the first time ever in the history of the world MasterChef, someone has presented them with a dish they did not make themselves. He walks back to the pantry and pulls Tyler’s ramekins out of the blast chiller. All four of them are just where he put them. That means that Tyler had grabbed one of Jaimee’s. Tyler looks mortified. Gordon says he believes that it was just a mistake, but the judges need to deliberate about how to proceed.

I feel terribly for Tyler. I also believe that it was just a mistake. If the intent was to cheat, he probably would have grabbed one that had actually set. The judges come back and let him know that he’s the one who will be going home this week, since they have none of his own food to judge him on. Jamiee, Willie and Christian have dodged bullets. They still need a challenge winner though, and that person is Courtney. She will have a big advantage in next week’s challenge, which looks like it’s pairing up the cooks to work together.

I’m having a hard time choosing favourites so far this season. There are still so many contestants that not many of them have gotten much screen time. Right now I’d say I’m rooting for Francis L., but it’s mostly because he wore a fantastic silver, fringed leather jacket with wings to a military base in the desert a few episodes back.

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