Thursday, June 27, 2013


It’s time for another Team Challenge, and this week it’s a wedding. They’ll be catering the reception for a couple of foodies. The bride reads off a giant list of dislikes, which includes every food known to man. Ugh. She’s awful. I’m guessing her husband had all of his hair when they first met. And what’s with her eyebrows? How does she make them only rise at the ends like that? Must be a Botox thing.

Graham will be contributing an appetizer and Gordon a dessert, so the lovely couple can have a taste of what real chefs can offer. The teams will each be cooking a main entrée with a vegetarian option. James is the Blue captain, and Natasha has the Red Team.

Lynn is the first pick again, this time specifically for his plating skills. James also gets Jessie on his team, and the Blue Team is looking stacked. Luca is James’s final pick and is relieved to be on the Blue Team, saying he doesn’t think Natasha is a good leader. Natasha thinks Luca is weak and a joke. Graham’s ears perk up. “Joke? Someone wants to hear a joke?”

As a twist, James and Natasha have to jilt one of their team members, excluding them from the challenge and the Pressure Test if their team loses. Natasha jilts Krissi, because she needs a nap. James inexplicably gets rid of Bri, even though they have to cook a vegetarian dish. Maybe, as I am, he is starting to doubt that Bri is actually a vegetarian and is only pretending to be.

Graham shows off his appetizer: Ecto Cooler with Purple Flowers. Gordon presents his dessert: Turd Nugget Àla Mode.

The teams begin to pick their meats for the entrées. James suggests halibut, but Lynn convinces him that lamb is easier and more flavorful. Their vegetarian dish is mushroom and goat cheese or some shit.

The Red Team all wants to do short ribs except for Natasha who wants to cook halibut. Halibut it is. Their vegetarian dish is an eggplant and tomato stack, because stacks are all the rage these days.

The wedding is beautiful and serene outside. Meanwhile, chaos reigns indoors. The Red Team scorches their carrots, and Natasha decides to blame everyone else for her own instability.

The Blue Team is working like a well-oiled machine. Will they be able to keep it up for service? Graham starts serving his appetizer, so we’ll find out soon.

Immediately, the Blue Team runs into problems. Lynn’s plating is a disaster. He’s a classic introvert, working much better as an individual than in a team atmosphere. The Red Team’s food goes out to the bride and groom’s table, while the Blue’s lamb drags.

The service issues continue through the rest of service with the Blue Team falling behind seven tables at one point. Lynn is feeling the pressure and begins sweating into the food. Then Gordon catches him wiping his brow and then a plate with the same towel. Hey, at least he’s finally committed to seasoning everything.

Service ends, and it’s pretty obvious that the Red Team won. I’m not even sure who’s on their team. Both teams are trotted out in front of the reception guests and Bridezilla announces the winners…the Red Team! They celebrate with champagne, and I crack my fifth beer since the first hour started this week.

It’s Pressure Test time. For this go around, each judge gets to pick a Home Cook that deserves to sit out the challenge. Joe chooses Jessie, Graham chooses Luca, and Gordon says, “Lynn.” Lynn begins to remove his apron, and Gordon continues, “Wiping those plates with your sweat. I’ve never seen anything like that. You are not safe.” He chooses James over Jonny B due to James’s level of engagement compared to Jonny’s. It was a wedding challenge, after all. Jonny really should have focused more on his engagement. (Yeesh. Sorry for that one.)

Macaroon Battle! It’s Lynn vs. Jonny, and it looks like a mismatch. However, Lynn reveals his lack of baking confidence, while Jonny announced that he’s very comfortable with baking. Maybe that’s what the B stands for.

They have to make 12 macaroons of at least two flavors, fitting them into a special box. Everyone wants Lynn to go home, except for Bri who understands that she will get more camera time if she plays the contrarian.

Lynn is making a raspberry macaroon with white chocolate filling and a vanilla with salted caramel macaroon. Jonny B is making peanut butter and jelly macaroons, because he is a carpenter and that’s what carpenters eat.

As the challenge progresses, Jonny starts to break down. His hands shake as he squeezes the pastry bag. Both of them have made their macaroons too thick, so fitting in the box will be an issue.

Lynn puts a slice of raspberry in his macaroon, and the judges make fun of him for being a noob. Jonny’s macaroons each have a nipple on the end, making it even less likely they’ll fit in the box.

They begin to box their macaroons, and Jonny’s definitely don’t fit. Instead of leaving two outside, he jams them on top of the other macaroons and slams the box shut. He brutalizes that poor box. Oh, that's what the B stands for. Jonny Brutalizer. Jonny Basher. Jonny Bad Decision Maker. Meanwhile, Lynn has the same issue with the fit; only he brings two macaroons up separate from the ten in the box.

Lynn’s macaroons get tasted first. “Visually, it’s got that wow factor,” says Gordon. However, he thinks the caramel ones are too sweet. Also, he doesn’t like the fruit in the others. Graham and Joe agree with his assessment.

Now for Jonny’s. What’s in the box?  Gordon slides it open, and – the horror! Oh, the horror! Gordon picks through the cookie rubble to find one still intact. He slices and tastes it. It’s delicious. Graham finds one, tries it, and compliments the flavors. Joe finds the peanut butter to be clunky and strong, but he enjoys the raspberry macaroon.

It’s between Lynn’s beautiful and not-so-tasty macaroons and Jonny’s warzone of deliciousness. According to Gordon, this is “the most difficult Pressure Test we’ve ever had in this competition so far.” Back at home, Bime throws another attempt at a meringue pie against the wall.

Gordon drops the hammer quickly. Jonny B is done. The beauty in the box was too important. “I’m not walking out depressed or sad. I have a tremendous appreciation for the opportunity I’ve been given here,” Jonny tells us. “The sky’s the limit.”

Jonny B was a walking contradiction of creativity blended with unoriginality. He introduced us to popcorn lobster and maple syrup pasta, and he also wore a faux hawk and an argyle sweater. But let us remember the good times. Goodbye, Jonny. I’m sorry for misspelling your name for so long.

S4E11: The Curse of the First Interview

“I’m still here! I’m still here!” Beth exclaims to start off the episode. Not for long, I predict. Two reality rules are in play here. Rule number one is that the first contestant interview you see is either the winning or losing contestant for the episode. The second rule is the Opposites Rule: in order for a character to have an arc, he/she must either start low and end high, or as in this case I’m guessing, start high and end low. Am I ruining reality TV for you? I tend to ruin things.

Mystery Box time! Bri prays to the vegetable gods for a cornucopia of…corn? Luca is looking for some sexy shellfish, because he is a pervert. They open their mystery boxes to reveal…Paula Deen! No, wait. It’s a pig’s head. Paula Deen is scheduled for a later episode, and please god, let Eddie still be on.

The Home Cooks are mercifully given an already broken down head consisting of ears, tongue, cheek, and pork snout. Graham wants the Cooks to make him “squeal” with delight. The joke kills.

Beth has never cooked a pig’s head before, but she loves pork. This chick digs on swine, yo. James has seen a lot worse than a pig’s head before but doesn’t go into specifics. What could be worse? Ok. This, I guess.

A subplot in basically every episode is that Bri will struggle because she’s a vegetarian. She has a towel over her pig’s head because “You don’t want to look at someone’s face while you’re cooking him.” She’s making a farmer’s breakfast and rattles off a bunch of different things that she’s including in it. She’s still listing dishes when Gordon walks away.

Lynn is finally seasoning his food, and Graham squeals with delight. Jonny B is making some tacos, and Gordon is impressed with his flavor profiles of pork in pork stock. Fucking genius.

Graham wants to see the oink on the plate. He’s referring to the pig. Each plate must have some pig on it.

The top three:

Lynn finally has his moment to shine. Bri thinks Lynn is all presentation and no palate. She might have a point. The judges are into his braised tongue & cheek with parsnip puree, though. “How’d you make that puree so fine?” Gordon asks. “I worked it,” says Lynn. Mmm, that puree so fine! You gotta work it, Lynn!

Stunning Jessie glides forward, hair flowing beautifully over her delicate shoulder. She presents braised cheek & ear with black-eyed peas and roasted corn. The judges like it but are restrained in their praise compared to how they greeted Lynn’s dish.

Jonny B and his tacos get the call. Those look like flour tortillas to me, which is a severe taco no-no. The judges love them and are completely full of shit on this one. How can I trust anything they say now? Tacos get corn tortillas. Burritos get flour. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.

Lynn wins and heads back to the pantry with the don’t-know-shit-about-tacos judges. A special guest will be presenting the theme for the Elimination Challenge, and it’s last season’s winner Christine Ha. Lynn is very excited to meet her and rushes forward to shake her hand, and Christine notes how tall he must be. Oh, yeah. She’s blind, by the way. I should mention that.

Graham hawks Christine’s horribly-titled cookbook “Recipes from my Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food.” As I noted before, I think she really missed the boat by not referencing her lack of sight in the book title. No, not “Recipes so Easy a Blind Woman Can Cook Them,” but something like “Flavor Rules.” Whatever. It’s not my book, and no one asked me.

Lynn will pick between three ingredients heavily featured in Christine’s cookbook: chicken (yawn), catfish (hello there, gorgeous), and a live Dungeness crab. Comedy superstar Graham Elliot meows at the reveal of the catfish. Lynn has immunity and can pick a Home Cook to prepare one of the options while everyone else will cook another that he chooses. He decides to give Krissi the catfish, guessing that she doesn’t know it well. He doesn’t fear her wrath, which will be substantial.

The judges present Christine Ha to the other cooks, and we get another Beth interview. She is so going down tonight. I’m very confident in this.

The Home Cooks rush to the pantry to see their ingredients. Krissi sees her catfish and feels that Lynn did this to her because Bime was his boy, and she sent Bime packing last episode. The other cooks will be dealing with the live crab, meaning Bri will have to take a life, condemning her to burn in hell for all eternity. However, eternal damnation is a small price to pay for the title of MasterChef and your very own cookbook.

Game Changer Alert! Christine announces to the Home Cooks that they will be blindfolded for the challenge. They’ll get to see (or won’t, rather) what it’s like for Christine to cook every day, only with more finger chopping.

They get to work and begin stumbling about. Graham does a silly pantomime of the blindfolded Home Cooks and locks up a sitcom on Comedy Central. It’s chaos, and I’m loving it. Unfortunately, Gordon tells them to stop. The blindfolding was just a joke. They remove them and start again.

Krissi is confident that Lynn wasted his advantage, calling him a dumbass. Luca reminds us that he’s Italian, and being Italian, he’s going to make a risotto. He adds fish stock to the sauce to make Christine happy. If Luca knows one thing, it’s how to make a woman (or a shellfish) happy.

James is shocking his tomatoes. He accomplishes this by telling them that Krissi is cooking mashed potatoes with her catfish.

At Beth’s station, Joe picks up the crab shell with meat still inside of it and asks Beth if she’s “going to leave all of this goodness behind?” Beth says she’s trying to do something fresh. That meat has been sitting there for a good 10 minutes, so it’s obviously not any good.

Natasha has fashioned her blindfold as a karate headband and is making crab cakes and salad. What happened to Evil Robot Natasha? This new Zen version is boring.

Joe and Graham stop by Krissi’s station and are unimpressed. Krissi immediately gets defensive, and Joe smells blood, coming right back at her and calling her a smartass. “Sunday night leftover dinner…super stupid move,” Joe tells Gordon.

Time ends, and Christine comes down to help judge.

Krissi’s fried catfish is first. “Looks like a TV dinner,” Gordon informs Christine. Krissi leaves the slimy catfish skin on the filets, because she doesn’t know any better. Christine thinks it tastes pedestrian. Graham piles on and calls it the $6.99 Blue Plate Special. Joe says it tastes like mud and spits it out. As Krissi heads back to her station she mutters her disagreement to the other Home Cooks, which Joe catches. He accuses her of not having any balls. I don’t know about that. She didn’t cry, at least. Luca doesn’t think she was honorable or respectful, but he definitely would have cried.

Natasha-san brings up her crab cakes and one-leaf salad. Christine, who can't see the headband and thusly isn’t offended by it, likes the dish. Joe agrees.

Bri makes a summer crab stack with pea and avocado mash, and Graham thinks it was a wise choice of ingredients. This vegetarian continues to have no problems cooking meat.

James presents his spicy crab creole. Christine likes the heat that James is putting out. Gordon loves it, as well.

Next is Beth’s mascarpone crab cake with grilled peach and avocado salsa. Christine puts a forkful in her mouth and makes a face like Beth just put her blindfold on as a karate headband. Joe spits it out. “It’s completely raw,” Joe says. “Untolerable,” he continues, because the dish is so bad that he has to invent a new word just to describe it. “It’s really pasty,” adds Graham. Hey, this is just another example of a Home Cook unwisely deciding to put herself on the plate.

Luca brings up his risotto soup disaster. Joe spits his food out for the third time this challenge. He makes Luca bring up the fish sauce he added to the risotto. He only wanted to make Christine happy, but instead he made all of Italy weep.

Beth, Krissi, and Luca all think they’re going home. They’re all definitely coming up for judgment at the very least. First though, is the top two. Natasha gets second place with James winning the challenge. They’ll be team captains next episode.

The three I mentioned before all come forward. Luca and his ridiculous fish sauce get the reprieve, and now it’s down to Beth and Krissi.

Beth really, really, really doesn’t want to go home. (She’s going home.) Gordon thinks Krissi has attitude but not the talent to back it up.

And the ax falls…on Beth. Boom. Nailed it.

I think Beth lost her energy soon after Natasha went after her a few episodes ago for calling the disgusting cauliflower puree disgusting. She’s too gentle of a spirit for these razor-toothed fame beasts and was sequentially chewed apart by them.

Farewell, Quirky Beth. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

S4E10: Gordon Gives Jessie the Finger

It’s off to the world famous Paramount Studios for the Team Challenge, and I quickly wonder what not so famous studios they shoot the rest of the show at. “This is Hollywood, baby. What the hell are we doing here?” Jordan asks. You’re filming a reality show that’s sometimes about cooking. You probably should have figured that out by now.

A group of Home Cooks walks down a school hallway and suddenly merges with the rest of the competitors in the most awkwardly choreographed shot of the series so far. Krissi concentrates very hard on remembering how to walk.

They’re on the set of the used-to-be-a-hit television show, Glee, where they’ll be feeding over 100 members of the cast and crew in complete violation of union rules. Jessie and Krissi are the winners from last episode, so they’ll be the captains. Jessie has the Red Team. Krissi, the Blue.

They don’t get to pick their teams, though. Instead, the honor goes to comedy superstar Jane Lynch. She walks in, and Bri who is gleeking out hard says, “Shut up.” Jane repeats, “Shut up.” No one shuts up.

Jane labels Jessie and Krissi as Beauty and the Beast, which is perfect. She’s going to separate the groups by beauty and beastliness, an appropriately high schoolish way of classifying people.

Team Beauty: Jessie, Bri, Savannah, Jonny B, Black Guy, Luca, Natasha

Team Beast: Krissi, James, Beth, Bime (idiot according to Krissi), Lynn, Jordan, Bethy

Suddenly, Jane gets a whiff of Natasha’s awfulness and switches her with Beth. Next, she decides that Jonny B is too beastly and switches him with Lynn. Wow. Monster turn of events there.

Each team will have to make fried chicken with fries and slaw, grilled salmon with asparagus and scalloped potatoes, and vegan lasagna with a mixed salad. I like this set up. It’s not about making a stupid or smart decision, but instead about cooking the same thing better than the other team. What is this? Some kind of cooking competition? I’m with you, Jordan. What the hell are we doing here?

Jessie immediately judges the upcoming cast and crew as picky eaters and mockingly calls them “Hollywood types.” Wait until she gets a load of the grips and gaffers.

Team Beauty is going with a pesto sauce for the vegan lasagna. On Team Beast, Bethy suggests a cream sauce because she has very little understanding of the term “vegan,” but James is there to shoot her down and suggests a tomato sauce instead.

Krissi has her team calm and focused, while Jessie’s Beauties get behind and have to start hustling. This leads to Jessie slicing a chunk out of one of her beautiful fingers. Blood is shooting out of her wound like something from a horror film. She’s about to black out, and when Gordon picks up the sizable chunk of finger from the mandolin, I almost join her. I’ll never cut a vegetable ever again.

Joe likes the taste of Bime’s chicken – and now all I can think about are chicken fingers. I need to lie down.

The cast and crew arrive and start grubbing. There’s a rush on fried chicken, and both teams have trouble making it fast enough. But it’s even worse news for the Beasts as a crewmember pulls apart his chicken to reveal raw, bloody meat. Oh god. More blood. Medic!

When I come to, the celebrities and nobodies are voting. Jane Lynch leads a marching band and cheerleaders down the back lot to reveal the winning team. It’s 90 votes to 37, another blowout. The winning team is Team Beauty! Krissi can’t believe it. She’s baffled. She’s sick. She’s pissed off. She’s in a glass case of emotion. Also, she blames Bime.

On to the Dreaded Pressure Test. Krissi says it’s the chicken’s fault, but Gordon slaps her down with the statistic that Team Beast took 30 out of 56 chicken votes. It was Jordan's salmon that killed them, getting less than 4% of the vote.

Krissi gets the option to save as many people on her team as she likes as long as she saves at least one and at least two people compete. She decides to save Jonny B, Natasha, and herself. This is a hugely hyprocritical move considering she gave Jordan so much grief for saving himself earlier. It turns out she has no honor after all, but hey, this is MasterChef. Honor sends you home.

The remaining Cooks have to cook a lemon meringue pie. Bime’s never made one before. Bethy sucks at making them. But there’s a twist! No lemons! They have to make a citrus meringue pie with any citrus other than lemon. Jordan shits his pants.

The cooking begins. Jordan is making a key lime and regular lime curd for the pie. What’s the difference? Are key limes smaller? Apparently, I don’t know my limes.

Bime’s also making a lime meringue pie, and he runs into a problem. His curd isn’t thickening up, #thatswhatshesaid. Savannah notices that he added cream of tartar instead of cornstarch, and now I know that something called cream of tartar exists. Apparently, Bime and I don’t know our creams of tartar. He throws his cruddy curd into the miracle fridge and begins working on the meringue. He suddenly realizes his cream of tartar/corn starch snafu. Meanwhile on the balcony, Krissi schadenfreudes herself to a climax.

Bethy’s crust is butterier than she wants it, and Gordon thinks it actually might be raw. Jordan’s pie looks so money. James, however, is running out of time, so he rushes the finishing touches and admits that his pie looks like shit.

James’s blood orange and lime pie gets tasted first. His piecrust is raw, his curd is insufficient, and his egg whites are undercooked. A potential saving grace for him is that it tastes good.

Bethy makes a lime meringue pie, and it is not a success. Graham likes the curd’s flavor, but her pastry is definitely raw. When Gordon tells you that something you’re making is raw, it’s fucking raw. He’s the master of spotting raw. Throw that shit back in the oven. She describes her own pie as “the grossest pie I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Jordan’s double lime pie looks very pretty. Joe says it’s the best pie he’s tasted so far. He’s safe.

Did the fridge of miracles save Bime? Did he have time to remake his curd? We’re treated to a delightful overhead shot of the disaster that is Bime’s pie. It’s completely sunken into the dish, and the crust looks like one of the worst Play-Doh creations from my youth. Gordon attempts to pull out a slice, and – well – remember the scene in Robocop when the guy gets covered in toxic waste and then that car smashes through him? The goop that exploded onto the car's windshield is exactly what Bime’s pie looks like. 

Gordon pours the unset curd into martini glasses for Bime and himself, and they take a drink. It’s inedible. Bime is obviously screwed here.

Jordan is saved first. James created one of his worst dishes so far, but his worst is better than the others, so he’s safe.

It’s Bethy and Bime. How will Gordon squeeze drama out of this? Will he send them both home? “This is really difficult. You – both – are –  …  – talented home cooks without a doubt. Let me tell you.” Not bad.

It’s Bime who gets the boot and an emotional sendoff with a special Come Here, You hug from all of the judges.

So, we say goodbye to Bime, and he heads home to be reunited with his daughters. Hopefully, he can convince Child Protective Services to give them back to him. Vaya con Dios, Bime. Never stop dreaming. And never stop Biming.

S4E9: You Have Chinese Pubes in Your Teeth

The Home Cooks have returned from Vegas and are about to find out if Luca or Kathy will be joining them. Krissi’s hair is limp and lifeless as she informs us that Kathy became her best buddy, and it will be really hard on her if she leaves. To none of our surprise (because we watched the last episode), Luca walks through the doors with arms outstretched, and Krissi’s hair manages to look even sadder than before. “I don’t have not one person I can really talk to,” Krissi tells us, and with sentence structure like that, it’s probably for the best.

It’s Mystery Box time, and Eddie is hoping to find a nice piece of meat inside. Krissi wants to find something in her comfort zone like pasta or maybe some volumizer. They lift their boxes to reveal a “bounty of ethnic ingredients from Russia, Spain, China, all around the globe,” according to Graham. Howard announces his displeasure with a raspberry. Suddenly, we get a shot of all of the Home Cooks with their Mystery Boxes once again closed. And now they’re magically back open. There is sorcery afoot!

The challenge begins, and the Home Cooks start touching, smelling, and tasting things, followed by the Home Cooks getting the creeps, gagging, and spitting things out.

Gordon and the other judges privately go over some of the ingredients: elk, Spanish salt-cured tuna, Okinawa sweet potato, cod’s liver, and Chinese pubic hair – err, ground moss.

Eddie pounds his elk into gamey submission and is making a puree from the purple sweet potato. Jordan is making a stack salad with what he assumes are baby eels. Bime is also using the baby eels, making a surf and turf with the elk. Lynn says his first words he’s ever uttered on the show, telling Gordon that he’s making a root puree with a tuna tartare.

Time ends, and the judges walk around to examine the dishes. Lynn’s dish looks like a work of art, and he is appropriately pleased with himself. This guy seems to be out of everyone’s league cooking-wise, though his personality is comprised of mostly cardboard. He’s obviously not on the show to get as much camera time as possible, which makes me wonder if he understands exactly what show he is on.

The top three:

Eddie’s elk flank with Japanese sweet potato puree. It looks simple as hell, and I’m not sure why they chose him other than to give him a little more face time. “This dish may look simple,” says Joe, correcting me. “But it’s actually very complex.” My bad.

Jordan’s stack salad with Chinese moss and baby eels. It’s colorful and repulsive-looking. The judges dig in. “Smart,” says Graham. “Smart,” adds Gordon. “I’m not eating that shit,” implies Joe.

Bime’s elk flank with baby eels and sweet potato. Gordon tells a disappointed Lynn that he didn’t season his dish properly (and that he needs to have more personality for the cameras). “A tour de force,” raves Joe over Bime’s dish. Gordon doesn’t think it’s a fluke. He’s right. It’s baby eels.

The winner is Steady Eddie, who follows the judges to the pantry. The theme for the Elimination Challenge is pasta with a filling. Eddie’s choices are the very very difficult agnolotti, Graham’s favorite mezzaluna, and caramelle which looks a lot like taffy. These are some obscure pastas, but it’s all ravioli to me. Eddie won’t have to cook, so he says he wants to pick the most difficult dish. “Smart,” says Graham. “Smart,” adds Gordon.

Eddie chose agnolotti. “Agno-how many?” says no one, because they’re not hilarious like me. A special guest is coming on to show the Home Cooks how to make this dish that they’ve never heard of. It’s the person who taught Joe everything he knows about pasta, his mother Lidia Bastianich. She’s a famous television chef and restaurateur, and Krissi freaks right the fuck out. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a day for poor Krissi and her sad hair.

Before Lidia begins teaching, Eddie gets to pick two Home Cooks that have to sit out the demonstration. He chooses two of the strongest competitors: James and Lynn. Here’s another test for my theory that Cooks given disadvantages never lose. This is a pretty huge disadvantage, so I’m nervous for my theory. Also, they’ve been showing a ton of Lynn this episode, so he’s either going to be at the top or the bottom at the end of this.

Lynn and James leave, and Lidia starts the lesson. It looks pretty simple: make a Close Encounters mountain of flour, throw in some eggs, beat the shit out of it, take a nap, crank it out, grind up some leftovers, slap that shit onto the pasta, roll it, cut it, boil it, make some grandma sauce or something, drizzle that shit, grate some cheese, and voila! Agnolotti.

The guys come back in, and the Elimination Challenge begins.

Uh Oh Howard wants to put himself in his dish, which is a horrible idea. Jessie is going to put ox tail and short ribs in her pasta, because her leftovers are much fancier than ours. Jonny B (who I’ve been misspelling this whole time) is making a smoked maple syrup Alfredo sauce, which leads Joe to have him excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Lynn is blending his filling, and Gordon shows him everyone else grinding theirs. Does he switch to a grinder? It’s unclear! Commercial break!

Joe and his mama stop by Uh Oh Howard’s station and examine his chicken and bell pepper filling. Lidia tells him to taste it and be aware of the textures, meaning he should bail on his idea. He doesn’t catch on.

Krissi admires Lidia so much; she’d give the Heisman to Jesus to meet her. Lidia tastes her food, likes it, and suddenly Krissi doesn’t care about not having any friends anymore.

Uh Oh Howard is putting too much of himself in his dish, Lynn was dealt the Ace of Bad Pasta by Eddie, and Beth went to the same school of water boiling that Luca did.

It’s time for tasting, and James is first. Lidia thinks his flavors are good, and Graham agrees.

Next is Lynn’s dish. It’s under seasoned again, and his pasta has an awkward thickness, #thatswhatshesaid.

Jonny B’s maple syrup butternut squash dish does not delight Lidia. She thinks it would work better as a dessert.

Jessie goes next, and we’re treated to a sound bite of Krissi telling us she doesn’t like Jessie and her hoity toity manners. First Krissi was sad, then happy, and now belligerent. Someone needs a nap. Jessie’s pasta is beautiful, and so is Jessie. But Gordon says it isn’t her looks that make her stand out, but her cooking – and her looks.

Mercurial Krissi’s Swiss chard agnolotti is up, and Lidia likes her proportions. Krissi is happy once again.

Beth is nervous about her dish. She says it’s either worse case or worser case. Graham agrees.

Uh Oh Howard is not 100% confident in his dish. Lidia doesn’t appreciate the mouthful of peppers he feeds her. His eyes tear up again, and noted non-crybaby sufferer Joe isn’t having it. Howard mouths off, and Joe rips his soul out of said mouth, grinds it, stuffs it into agnolotti pasta, and eats it. It tastes better than Howard’s dish.

2nd place goes to Krissi, and Jessie takes the win.

The bottom three are – no! Bottom four! Does this mean another trip to Vegas? Let’s hope not. It’s Jonny, Howard, Beth, and Lynn. Beth and Jonny get the quick reprieve, and it’s down to Lynn and Howard.

Gordon asks the losing Home Cook to remove his apron and place it on his station, only he hasn’t said who it is yet. He says that the Cook knows who he is and should do the honorable thing. Does he really know? I don’t know who he is.  What’s the right move here? This is intense!

Howard removes his apron! The Honorable Howard Huge, ladies and gentlemen. Helluva guy. He goes home having learned an important lesson: next time don’t put himself in the dish; choose Jessie instead.

So Lynn is still in, but more importantly, my theory holds true. Just like me, Lynn is back in the game, but he won’t be for long if he doesn’t decide to add some seasoning to his food, but more importantly, to his personality. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

S4E8: Stupid, Evil Plans

The cliffhanging is quickly over with as we move along to the second hour of MasterChef.

Luca, Kathy, Natasha, and Beth are the four losing Home Cooks from the last episode, and now they’ll battle it out among themselves to see who goes home. The challenge is in Las Vegas where something will happen, resulting in one of them staying. It started as an advertising campaign, but now it's law.

They go to Burgr at Planet Hollywood Resort where I’m guessing the food doesn’t come from Wal-Mart. The Home Cooks seem surprised to find out that Burgr is one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants despite standing underneath a giant poster of Gordon looking very excited to have hands.

The Cooks are split into two teams of two and have to cook for diners at the restaurant. The losing team will then have a cook-off between the two of them to see who is the loserest of the losers. The judges pair up Luca with Kathy and Natasha with Beth, who despise each other much to my delight.

After telling us that Beth learned her lesson about opening her mouth, Natasha graciously gives her the role of leader, prompting Joe to give Beth a healthy portion of side-eye. Luca pops his collar and announces himself as the leader of his group. With a tell like that, let’s hope he stays away from the poker tables. Gordon will be expediting, because he’s been dying all season to yell at some idiots.

Luca decides to do a caramelized onion burger with no cheese. He feels like making a less delicious burger will really make their dish stand out. Beth wants to do a hangover burger, involving prosciutto, a fried egg, and aioli. Natasha reveals her strategy to let Beth hang herself by allowing her to make all of the decisions. Apparently, Natasha wasn’t paying attention when the judges said that the losing team would have a cook-off to decide who goes home. She is so intent on being evil that she’s over evil-ing her own evil plans.

The judges discuss how no one wants to taste egg in the meat of the burger, and we immediately cut to Beth cracking an egg into her beef. Luca tells Graham “we got this” but his collar is down now, so I’m not so sure.

Natasha is destroying the fried eggs (on purpose?). Beth asks her for other suggestions, getting none. She’s onto Natasha’s evil plans about throwing her under the bus, but she thinks the plan is a dumb move because she’s handicapping her team. And she’s right, what with the upcoming cook-off that no one seems to remember.

Luca abandons his sauce, because Kathy can’t cut onions for shit. Beth and Natasha’s eggs look terrible and so do their patties, but they’ve dressed their salad, so no big whoop.

The doors open, and Joe welcomes some ladies. I think he likes what he sees. At least, that’s what the hilarious smile frozen to his face would seem to indicate.

Beth and Natasha abandon the egg and substitute goat cheese and arugula as prep time comes to a close. Finally, service begins and the Cooks start to work frantically.

Luca falls behind on the grill and tries to put up a couple raw burgers, and Gordon refuses to serve them. Meanwhile, we’re encouraged to tweet about this development with the hashtag, #itsraw. These specific hashtags have been popping up all season, and I have neglected to mention them. Sorry about that. Please feel free to tweet about my disappointing performance with the hashtag, #badrecap.

Beth has issues with her buns, and Gordon don’t want none unless she got buns, hon. Raw burgers come back from one of the tables, and it’s Luca’s Red Team again. Shame on Gordon, though, really. He is the expeditor, after all.

Some VIPs arrive, and of course, it’s the other Home Cooks. “This is a huge deal, the fate of our fellow cooks in our hands. It’s a little bit of an intense responsibility,” says James jokingly. Wait. He was serious? Bime is wearing a new tan fedora, and Johnny B is donning a stupid argyle sweater.

Luca decides to get strategic and shit. He rushes his burgers, hoping to catch the other team moving too slowly. It works as four of the VIPs don’t get to taste Beth and Natasha’s food.

Everyone votes for their favorite burger by placing a blue or red casino chip into a Plinko board with no prizes at the bottom. Krissi tells us she does not like goat cheese. She was offended by the amount of goat cheese that separated her from her precious meat. Later that evening, she sneaks off into the wilderness and murders a family of goats in retribution.

The winning team is revealed to be Beth and Natasha, who celebrate with a passionate embrace. The amount of hate they hold for each other only serves to make it that much hotter. It is Vegas, after all.

It’s time for the final cook-off, and Kathy and Luca face off against each other on the rooftop of Caesar’s Palace. It must be cold, as Luca is dressed like the captain of a Russian submarine. The judges present them with a Butter Poached Lobster, the dish they will have to replicate. They taste it and both being to weep uncontrollably, knowing that they will never taste anything better for the rest of their lives. They certainly won’t be cooking anything as good.

They have 45 minutes to cook. Luca thinks he has an advantage, and Kathy is hoping her fighting spirit can carry her through. Luca’s game face is on. He doesn’t look happy, because he isn’t. He won’t be ready to go home until he gets the title of MasterChef and promises Gordon that he will produce the best lobster ever. It’s looking more and more like Luca is going home at the end of this. I hope not. He’s super entertaining.

Gordon says Kathy appears to be in the zone. She’s so much in the zone that she seems to have forgotten that she needs to cook an actual lobster. Luca grabs his and the judges marvel over his technique at preparing it – until he butchers the tail. Joe says, “When he put that knife to that lobster, that could have been the moment that Luca said goodbye to the MasterChef kitchen forever,” followed by Luca staring dramatically into the distance before him. Commercial break. That’s MasterChef Theatre at its best.

Luca admits to never cooking lobster before, making his earlier promise of producing the best lobster ever a tad presumptuous. Meanwhile, Kathy may never cook a lobster ever.

Finally, she grabs one and doesn’t butcher her tail. She’s moving fast, and the judges are impressed. But then she struggles getting the meat from the claws, and the judges are no longer impressed. “She’s in a tailspin,” says Joe. “A tailspin,” agrees Graham. “A tailspin,” adds Joe.

The dishes are plated, and Kathy’s looks suspect in comparison to Luca’s. She’s missing a lot of lobster. Gordon cuts into it and notes that it’s cooked perfectly, despite the slightly exploded knuckles. He gives it a taste, and he loves it. Graham agrees on the lobster. He then tries the salad, and his face tightens into a sphincter. It’s a little acidic. Joe tells Kathy that she has one of the biggest hearts they’ve seen in the competition, though Graham’s personal physician is at home furiously shaking his head.

It’s Luca’s turn. The plating is perfect, though the lobster itself looks a little bland in color. Gordon cuts into it and tastes. He says the cooking is 30 seconds off and that he left the lobster sitting too long before cooking it. Graham says the seasoning is perfect, but the temperature while cooking was too low. Joe asks Luca what happens if he has to go home tonight. Luca says that it isn’t in his plans to go home. He will stay in Vegas, joining the cast of Thunder from Down Under.

The judges confer. Kathy is scared and nervous all at once. Luca thinks he has a better dish but can’t be 100% sure.

The verdict is in. “The winner – by the narrowest of margins – is – Luca.” Luca breathes a sigh of relief as tears pour down Kathy’s cheeks. Joe gives his first I Didn’t Believe In You At First speech of the season. Gordon has never seen a fighting willpower like hers before. He believes she’s going places. I believe she’s going back to the Bronx.

The storywriters pleasantly surprised me with this one. I really thought they were setting up Luca for the fall. Good job, guys.

Farewell, Kathy. You didn’t make it as far as I thought you would, but maybe you’ll take Gordon up on his offer to have one of his kitchens teach you how to really cook. Please do. The world could do with less neon tripping monkey shitcakes.