Top 8 Compete
Original Air Date: Jul 16, 2012
JD – Sr. Staff Writer
Cowboys! This episode of MasterChef brought out the wild, wild, west with 101 cowboys and enough beef to feed a small army. Our cooks battled the stench of manure (according to Monti, though no one else mentioned it) to feed the hungry men and women, all while trying to work with a wrench the judges threw into their team work.
All that hard work took three cooks to a pressure test of a much more delicate nature: eggs.
The team challenge this episode was to feed 101 hungry cowboys, and the first team to 51 votes wins the challenge. Of course, you can’t feed cowboys anything but red meat, so the cooks get steaks, and then have to choose two sides.
Frank and Monti won the last elimination test, so they get to pick teams. Monti is totally convinced she’s going to be the BEST EVER team captain, and when she picks her team, I believe her. She chooses Stacey, David, and Christine (well, she gets Christine by default, as Christine was the last cook picked), and while it’s surprising that she chose David, she says she wants a team of underdogs. And I’m always a big fan of underdogs, so I’m all for it. Frank gets Becky, Josh, and Felix, and…. ohhhhh snap! There’s a twist!
Now that Frank and Monti have decided, the judges tell them to swap aprons (and team colors), making it an exercise in working with people you find difficult. This puts Monti with Becky, Josh, and Felix. All three are good cooks, but Becky and Felix actively dislike Monti, and Josh doesn’t seem too keen on her either. Frank is now with Stacey, David, and Christine, and while David is the weak link, Frank’s other two new teammates are pretty rockin’. Assuming Christine’s vision impairment doesn’t get in the way.
They have to jump to it right away, before the cowboys show up to dine. Monti decides that her team is going to make sweet potato mash and spicy green beans with their steaks. Josh is already worried that peeling and preparing the potatoes will take too long, and Becky thinks baked beans is a much better idea than the green beans (as she points out, it’s more cowboy-ish and you can make a huge portion in one pot), but Monti pushes ahead with her own plans.
Frank decides to be democratic, asking what each member wants to do. David offers up his garlic mashed potatoes, Stacey is going to make her signature barbecue sauce, and Christine adds grilled corn to the mix. Maybe it’s just because I hate sweet potatoes, but this menu sounds WAY better to me.
On Monti’s Red Team, she puts Becky on the steaks, which makes the judges immediately question her leadership decisions. It doesn’t really help that Becky is supposed to be pre-searing the steaks, but she’s already got them cooked to medium, meaning they’ll be overdone by the time the cowboys get them. Monti sticks Josh on the grill to do steak instead of Becky, and then starts to worry she doesn’t have enough potatoes. Of course, whenever someone worries they won’t have enough of something, they’re usually right.
Over on Team Blue, Christine immediately sets the grill on fire when she doesn’t remove the husks from the corn. And is it just me, or did it take entirely too long for anyone to help the blind girl when her station caught on fire? Guys, she’s just as flammable as you are, and can’t see anywhere near as well. Just sayin’.
The cowboys flood in after prep, and service starts. The show spends a little time to push their advertiser whom I will not name, and then the Red Team runs out of potatoes after 5 minutes. Surprise! Monti starts some more, but it’s not near ready before people start voting. Halfway through service.
On Frank’s side, Stacey’s barbecue sauce is going over so well that people are asking her for the recipe. In fact, fire aside, Frank’s team is doing so well that they start racking up points like crazy. By the time Monti’s new batch sweet potatoes are done, it’s almost too late.
I’m not even going to bother with the “who won?” thing this challenge, because it’s pretty obvious. In spite of a last minute bump for Monti’s team after her second batch of sweet potatoes were done, Frank’s team blew Monti’s out of the water, sending her, Becky, Felix, and Josh to the pressure test.
Pressure Test: Eggs Four Ways:
Of course Monti feels horrible, knowing a lot of the problems were her fault. The judges offer to allow one person immunity in the challenge, but they have to come up with that person together. Monti takes herself out of the running for immunity right off the bat, and nominates Felix. Of course Becky thinks she did everything that worked on her own, and Josh thinks Felix didn’t do much of anything. Honestly, what we saw of the challenge, we didn’t get to see much of Josh or Felix at all, so I can’t really judge their performance.
Eventually, Becky and Josh unhappily agree to let Felix have immunity, and she heads upstairs. The remaining cooks are given six eggs and have to make four perfect dishes with them: one sunny side up, one poached, one soft boiled, and a three egg omelet. Monti, who’s accepted that she has to do this challenge, is confident, but the judges worry that Becky’s anger and Josh’s disappointment with not being immune might cause them to slip up.
Honestly, egg cooking isn’t exciting. Monti has her heat too high (the main thing I worry about in cooking eggs is keeping the heat just low enough), and is inexplicably using a ring mold on her sunny side up egg. Is that a thing I don’t know about? Other than that, the only thing worth reporting in this challenge is David’s comments from the balcony. He was rooting for Becky to fail (understandable), and for Monti to do well. Since when does David vote for Monti?! Maybe because she picked him in the challenge originally? Or maybe he just wants anyone but Becky to win.
The 20 minutes run down, and judging starts. Monti’s sunny side up egg had raw egg white on top, and her omelet was really ugly, but her other two eggs were great and everything tasted good. Becky’s sunny side up looked “like a cloudy day” and her soft boiled egg was “more like an unboiled egg”, according to Graham, but her omelet was “like sex on a plate”. Josh’s sunny side up was great, but Joe said his omelet was like “fried custard”, his poached egg looked “violently boiled”, and his soft boiled egg was raw with a cold center.
Who went home? Josh. I kind of expected it, given that Monti’s mistakes were minor, and Becky… well, she just barely made less mistakes than Josh. She failed two dishes, and he failed three, and failed them worse.
I am sad to see him go, though, and it seemed like the judges were too. Gordon told Josh that whatever he needed, whether it was time in one of his kitchens or even just ideas, he could call on Gordon. I love to see cooks leave on a note like that. Losing sucks, but it softens the blow.
Josh said he was looking forward to Christine’s cookbook, when he was asked who would win. I’m not so sure now that Monti won’t take it all, and I am more and more impressed by Stacey every episode. Then again, at this point, the only thing I’d bet on is that it won’t be David taking home the title. I think he’s next on the list to leave.
What do you guys think? Give me your Two Cents!
If you’d like to keep up with JD’s reviews, you can follow her on Twitter at @JDeckerTV