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MasterChef – Recap & Review – Top 8 Compete

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Top 8 Compete

Original Air Date: Aug 1, 2011

JD – Sr. Staff Writer

The group challenge this Monday was… utterly terrifying. I don’t spend a lot of time around children, and when I watch my niece, I need a two day nap to recover. Needless to say, when 200 screaming kids showed up for our chefs to cook for, I was very happy not to be in their shoes. Had I been on the Red Team, I might have hyperventilated and passed out at one point. The Blue Team wasn’t much better, but that had more to do with the team dynamics than the kids. I’ll give you three guesses as to who the trouble maker is…

The pressure test wasn’t a piece of cake either (literally and figuratively), with tons of drama and overflowing ego, and a very unexpected outcome.

Block Party Challenge:

This challenge, when I wasn’t busy thanking my lucky stars I wasn’t there, made me nostalgic. When I was little, we had block parties in the cul-de-sac at the end of my street, and they were always lots of fun. We didn’t have potential MasterChefs cooking for us, though! Kids today and their fancy-schmancy, cotton-pickin’…

Christine and Christian headed up teams to make a slider and side dish for 200 kids. The catch was that they could not use beef or potatoes. Burgers and fries are the first (easy) thought, but these guys should be more creative than that, right? Anyway, Christine picked Tracy, Ben, and Suzy to be on her team, while Christian chose Adrien, Derrick, and Jennifer. I was kind of stunned at Christian picking Jennifer (he didn’t get stuck with her as a last choice), and it proved to be a bad decision from the start.

Christian’s team (Blue Team) decided to do turkey burgers, and Jennifer and Derrick both suggested grated onions in the burger. Christian shot them down. And that’s pretty much how he ran the team throughout the challenge. Christine’s team (Red Team) is unified, though, and they decided to do a “chicken nugget” burger with corn nuggets.

There’s a whole lot of nuggets over in the Red side of the street…

The judges immediately try to psych out the teams, questioning the simplicity of the Blue Team’s dish (specifically the apple “fries” for the side), and questioning the Red Team’s sanity. Not only is everything on the Red team’s plate going to be fried, but Gordon said that the idea of a chicken nugget burger “scares the s*** out of him”. When Joe and Graham taste the menagerie of nuggets, they declare it all as dry as the Sahara Desert, but Ben thinks they’re okay because they have sauces. Across the street, Jennifer gets shut down a few more times, then Christian decides she doesn’t know how to make the caramel and steps in… and he does exactly what Gordon said later is the first thing not to do: stir it. The caramel got grainy, and Gordon and Jennifer were not happy at all.

And then the stampede of kids show up. This would be the start of my panic attack. The kids initially agree with the judges on the dry nuggets and grainy caramel, but then the Red Team starts a mini-riot by falling behind on serving food until the kids start chanting, “we want burgers!” This would be where the aforementioned passing out would have happened. Yeesh.

It kind of worked to their advantage, though, as it got the kids all riled up and excited. Suddenly kids start liking the Red Team better. Oh, and while I’m talking about this, how adorable were Joe and Gordon talking to the kids?! Massively adorable. Especially Joe correcting the kid who mispronounced “infinitely”. Gotta give the kid props for attempting that word.

Anyway, the kids finish eating and take a vote by standing in the circle drawn around their favorite team’s station. It looked really close–closer than I expected–but after a count, the Red Team pulled out the win, so Christian, Jennifer, Derrick, and Adrien get sent to the pressure test.

Souffle Challenge:

Well, you knew they would pull out something really difficult eventually, but I wasn’t expecting souffles since they did them last season. At least it’s a different kind of souffle, a cheese one. After Christian and Jennifer fought for a little bit about how much the other one was to blame, the judges came down on Christian for his leadership (I was glad they said something), and took a few moments to mess with the whole team–they pitted Jennifer and Christian against each other one on one, asked Derrick and Adrien to pick out who they thought would lose (they both said Jennifer), and then went “Ahaha, suckers! You’re cooking too”.

From there we got a running commentary as they cook. Everyone apparently thought Jennifer is going to go home, and Jennifer finally starts to fight back. She’s done a good job of biting her tongue until now, but she didn’t hold back last night, and it was awesome! And honestly, I’m starting to get annoyed with everyone underestimating her. Look at how many challenges she’s won! I really didn’t think I was going to like her at first, but she’s starting to win me over and stand out for me, and now she’s showing she’s got some backbone too!

Christian forgets to cook his roux, which breaks the commandment about not serving raw flour. He finishes first and brings one of his souffles up without even tasting the other ones first! Then the judges say nothing. Okay, I know they can’t really comment while the other cooks are working to avoid influencing them, but it was killing me waiting for them to respond.

One by one the other three cooks presented their soufles, with Derrick barely making it in time after waiting until the last second on his second batch of souffles. Even after they were all finished we didn’t get much feedback, though, which was disappointing. Jennifer got a pass to the next level, and so did Derrick, and then it was down to Adrien and Christian.

Who went home? Chri– wait, hold the phone! They let everyone think Christian was going home, leaving him standing there last by himself, which gave everyone the opportunity to celebrate just before telling Christian he was safe and disappointing all the remaining cooks. Awkwaaarrd.

And it wasn’t just the cooks who celebrated too soon. This may have been the first time so far that I’ve reacted thusly: “Yaaaaaaaay–oh, that sucks.” What about you guys? Should they have sent Christian home for his bad leadership even if his souffle was good? I’m torn on that one. On one hand, he was the reason the Blue Team failed, but on the other, I thought they’ve said before that they’re only judging the cooks on the current challenge without taking the past ones into account.

As Tracy pointed out, not sending someone home on this test could send two cooks home instead of just one on the next (or subsequent) pressure test. Is there anyone you guys are worried about? Give me your two cents!

If you’d like to follow JD’s TV stories from TTC and beyond, you can follow her on Twitter at @JDeckerTV.

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