Thursday, August 15, 2013

S4E19: USDA Inspected Choice Premium Recap

“Walking into the MasterChef Kitchen again just feels so right,” says model, actor, dancer, and possible vegetarian Bri. Normally, a quote like this to start off an episode is the kiss of death, but there’s no way Bri goes home one episode after coming back. No damn way. I would bet $250,000 and my very own cookbook on it.

It’s Mystery Box time again, and the remaining seven Home Cooks lift their boxes to reveal a 16 ounce T-bone steak. Jessie gives the cutest little dance of joy and is perfect and I love her. Bri feigns disgust. James is from Texas, is also a man, and is a sound byte machine who eats steak once a week. Fact.

Let’s hear more about this steak! Joe? “Walmart has provided you with a choice premium T-bone steak. Walmart sells the highest quality choice beef which is inspected by the USDA for quality.” Thanks, Joe! Mmmm, just hearing the letters USDA gets me wet in the mouth.

The MasterChef Pantry is being replaced by a Walmart truck because this season the branding needs to be as conspicuous as possible. Next season, the truck is actually going to blast through the MasterChef Kitchen walls like the Kool-Aid Man.

“I’m excited to see what’s in the truck,” says Natasha. Jordan opens the gate to discover dozens of naked small business owners who have been hogtied and gagged. “Bingo. Everything I need is actually there,” says Krissi who immediately fills her basket with tankinis and DVDs of The Bounty Hunter.

They start cooking, and Graham & Joe visit James’s station. James, who knows how to get camera time, tells them, “Every time we use these Walmart steaks, I’m always blown away at the quality of them…I’m going to cream some spinach and kale on the side.” Meanwhile, the Walmart marketing team is creaming something else on the side, if you know what I mean. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. Barf, barf.

Ok, editors. No more shots of Krissi tilting her head back and slowly dropping food into her open mouth. Those shots are reserved for Jessie only.

“How come you’ve never won a Mystery Box?” Graham asks Jordan who is wearing an atrocious pastel hoodie. “Because I over think it and go a little too crazy,” he responds while rubbing just the right amount of crazy into his steak.

Joe is impressed by Krissi’s potato flower-looking thing and Brussels sprout onion salad. Lately, Krissi is coming into her own and really feels more comfortable now that all of the black contestants are gone.

Time ends, and it’s time for the top three. First up is Jordan with his horribly ugly hoodie. I mean, what is going on with this thing? Did he get it at Walmart? It’s sea green and lavender with stripes of varying thickness, and it makes him look like he weighs 295 lbs. Really bad hoodie performance this week. Meanwhile, his steak is good. He only used the strip and not the filet, which is a strange choice, but that hideous hoodie is so distracting, the judges don’t seem to notice.

Luca gets the call next. He’s been on fire lately. Could Luca take down the whole season? It’s starting to look like a possibility. He cooked his strip and filet two different ways, and the judges slather him with praise like they’re James describing the quality of a Walmart steak.

Last is Krissi. The secret to her caramelization of the steak is using a cast-iron skillet, which she also uses to do her hair in the mornings. The judges love her food the most and give her the win.

Krissi heads into the MasterChef Pantry, which looks like a real piece of shit compared to that beautiful Walmart truck from earlier. Awarded with immunity from the Elimination Challenge, Krissi looks at five canvas-covered boxes of various size sitting in front of her. Joe lifts the first canvas to reveal a caged quail. Next cage is a pigeon. Then a Midwestern pheasant. Chicken. Gorgeous duck. And finally “the most amazing, incredible” turkey. She gets to pick which cook uses which bird.

The other Home Cooks enter the MasterChef Pantry to discover their feathered fates. The birds are loose, and each is wearing a medallion with the image of one of the contestants on it. “Quite the fowl scenario,” says James with an eyebrow-raise. Graham cannot keep up with him on the joke front, and he doesn't even bother trying anymore. They have to catch their birds, and Luca, who thinks the turkey is a peacock, tries to lure his with a leaf of kale. That might work, depending on how trend-conscious this turkey is.

Obviously, they don’t have to kill their birds as each of them is given pre-murdered birds. James tells us, “I’m very relieved I don’t have to strangle a duck in front of other people. It seems like more of a private thing.” Uh oh. Now James is coming after me. I need to step my game up.

They start cooking. James is confused about how to butcher his duck, and Natasha doesn’t know anything about her pheasant. From the balcony, Krissi tells Natasha that she’ll be fine, followed by a series of blurred obscene gestures.

Gordon tells Luca that Krissi wants him out of the competition, and Luca looks genuinely surprised at this. Poor, innocent Luca. Jessie is pan-frying her chicken and gets warned that it’s too simple. Bri is stuffing her pigeon with sunshine and love. Jordan’s sauce is not to Joe’s liking. He wants some quail flavor in there. I suggest he dip the quail in it.

The judges discuss among themselves what they like (Bri and Natasha) and what they don’t (Jessie and Jordan). Graham hates how Jordan boiled the quail in store-bought chicken stock. Jordan, forget what I said! Get that quail out of the sauce immediately!

Tasting time, and Jessie goes first. Joe is not happy. Her dish pales in comparison to her own stunning beauty. In the future she should put her dish in front of the judges and then return to her station so as not to overpower it. Jessie admits to playing it safe, and the judges give her a tongue-lashing. (They wish.)

Natasha makes risotto with her pheasant. Joe loves the dish, calling it “delicious, great, smart, intelligent, flavorful, very elegant, very refined.” He leaves no adjectives for Gordon and Graham to use, so they just take bites and say yummy.

James presents his togarashi rubbed duck with mushrooms and kimchi. “Togarashi is a Japanese chili pepper spice blend,” says Graham. Yeah, Graham. I know that. Because I just Googled it. The dish is good, and James is safe.

Next are Luca and his pancetta wrapped peacock, err turkey. Despite never having heard of the mythical turkey before, Luca does well with it. He’s safe.

“Bri decided to leave the pigeon whole instead of butchering it because of her animal views,” according to Krissi, who rolls her eyes and makes air quotes while saying “animal views.” “Krissi” doesn’t “understand” how “air” quotes “work.” Bri nailed it, though. Gordon gives it his wow factor seal of approval.

Things are looking bad for Jessie as every cook after her has done well, but Jordan and his suspect sauce are up next. Graham cuts into his quail, and it’s raw inside. “That’s disgusting,” says Joe. The judges hate it, and that hoodie certainly isn’t helping.

Bri is one of the top two dishes with the win going to Former Evil Robot Natasha.

The two bottom dishes belong to Jessie and Jordan. “Two Home Cooks that all three of us were marking for the top five,” bemoans Gordon. “We’d like to keep you both in the competition…” The other contestants’ stomachs drop. “…but we can’t.” Jessie and Jordan’s stomachs drop. “Someone is going to leave. Jessie, step forward.” Jessie glides forward like the angel she is. “It was really, seriously close, but you are on your way…” The music crescendos. “…into the Top Six.”

And with that, Jordan is gone. He was one of the early frontrunners, but he struggled once the competition got tight. Wiping away tears, Jordan hugs the other contestants. “I wanted to do my mom proud. And I think I did my mom proud,” he tells us in his final interview.

Goodbye, Jordan. You came into this competition to prove yourself, and you delivered.

Get it? Because he’s a delivery driver. High five, James!


  1. Another great post, as always. Keep it up!

  2. Yum. Shichimi. I've never heard anyone call it "togarashi."

    And I love how Luca pronounces "toorkey."