“It is Top 15, I’ve got my mojo back, and I feel like I’m walking a little taller—and it has nothing to do with how high my heels are,” says Courtney with a not-at-all evil laugh. Are we sure about that? Those heels do seem to get a little higher with each episode. I think she’s making a statement beyond the world of fashion, metaphorically standing upon the bodies of each Home Cook she has vanquished so far in the competition. By the end of it all, this aerial performer may no longer need her swing to dance among the rafters. She might be the first contestant heard from this episode, but I’m calling out Courtney as the official frontrunner. She could actually win this whole thing, and here’s the biggest clue: she won’t follow me on Twitter. Just like Luca.
Frankie (Francis B.) is a server from Orlando, and he tells us that he cooks Michelin-style. Is he referring to the Michelin Guide, listing the top restaurants in the world, or the rubber tires? It depends on the challenge, presenting stunning Michelin-style meatloaf one week and stupefying Michelin-style donuts the next.
No large teams for this Team Challenge. Today, they’ll be cooking in pairs.
“Leslie, the million-dollar question,” Gordon says to millionaire Leslie, cracking Willie up, “Who would you not want to work with?”
“I-Ron and I do not get along together,” replies Leslie. “Uh-Ron,” Ahran once again corrects. “Uh-Ron, yes. I-Ron,” he responds. Apologies to Joe and Graham, but these two are the new Abbott and Costello of MasterChef. How can anyone not love them?
Christian doesn’t want to cook with Courtney, because she’s not real. He’s from New Orleans and knows a specter when he’s sees one. However, he may have just brought the bad juju down upon his own head as Courtney, the winner from last episode, will get to pick every team.
At home once again in the MasterChef Balcony, Courtney won’t have to cook, leaving an even number of Home Cooks to split into teams. The two worst performing of those teams will have to cook in the Dreaded Pressure Test “that will send at LEAST one person home,” portends Joe. The judges want everyone to know that they don’t necessarily have to only eliminate one contestant at-a-time. Hell, they could send everyone home if they wanted to (let me get some sleep Monday nights).
The first team Courtney picks is Christian, who has been furiously attempting to get his witch doctor on the phone, and Frankie.
She pairs Jaimee with Elizabeth, Victoria with Christine, Cutter with Dan, Willie with Daniel, Ahran—who might “die in a hole because it’s so unfair”—with Leslie, and Francis with Elise. Courtney gives us some pretty fun teams to watch, and I imagine the producers feel like they couldn’t do better themselves.
Graham and Joe each wheel out a long MasterBin. In Graham’s bin is surf, and Joe has the turf. It’s surf & turf! The MasterCrowd goes wild. Victoria is “pretty amped up.” Former-search-and-rescue-diver-turned-petroleum-landman Cutter has knowledge of both surf and turf, so he’s not worried about this challenge.
They’ll have an hour to cook but only during the first five of those 60 minutes will they be allowed in the MasterChef Pantry to get everything they need, and they won’t be able to go back in once they surely blow it.
Time begins, and the Home Cooks run to the MasterChef Pantry with Florence Griffith Leslie (Flo-Lo) leading the way. “Yeah! Go, Leslie!” cheers Ahran. All it takes is a display of physical acumen from Leslie for all to be forgiven between the two. I’m going to try this in my own life. Next time I boorishly upset someone, I’ll drop and bang out 20 pushups as a token of apology.
Whisper, whisper, whisper.
The teams each quietly and quickly put together a plan. Dan and Cutter immediately start butting heads and continue to do so for the full five minutes. “We have two proteins that do not go together and seven items out of the pantry,” Cutter tells us. He’s praying that they can pull it off, but unfortunately for him, Courtney in the MasterChef Balcony is blocking each prayer before it can get to its respective deity.
Victoria and Christine are making a pork belly wrapped facehugger—I mean, monkfish. Christian and Frankie are working on a very American rib-eye steak and king crab cream sauce. “To be honest with you,” says Honest Christian, “Francis (Frankie) is awesome.” He thanks Courtney for making them partners and begs her not to haunt his progeny for the next 200 years.
Joe and Graham visit Scottish Francis’s station and inspect his various chemicals. “So are you making a frothy, bubbly action?” asks Graham. “I’m going to make a blood orange foam,” replies Francis. And then he’s going to cover Elise with said foam. From there, he’s not sure, but once Elise is completely coated in bubbly, frothy foam, things should clear up for him.
Graham visits Cutter and Dan Wu’s paradise of teamwork and friendship, but it doesn’t take him long to realize that these two are definitely not a couple of bronies. “I ain’t going to lie. I ain’t okay,” says Cutter. He tells us, “I know I’m probably going to a Pressure Test, because I have an idiot as a partner.” Is Dan an idiot? It’s hard to tell, since he has yet to say anything audible this episode. “Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt,” said Abraham Lincoln…or maybe Confucius…or possibly the Bible. Let’s go with Confucius for this one.
“She feels we’re alpha males,” Christian gives as the reason Courtney paired him with Frankie. “Do you think that your personality’s intimidating or your cooking?” asks Graham, whose cooking is intimidating, while standing next to Joe, whose personality is intimidating. “Cooking,” replies Christian, “and my personality. ‘Cause I don’t take (bleep) from nobody.” He ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
Ahran and Leslie are making a spicy pork belly and sweet crab stack. Gordon asks who the head chef is. “I-Ron. I-Ron is the head chef,” says Leslie. “A—Ah. Just shout, ‘Ah!’” pleads Gordon. Leslie does.
Cook, cook, cook.
Time ends. Hugging begins. Judging quickly follows.
Ahran and Leslie are first. Their final creation is a pork belly tostada with crab guacamole and kimchi fried rice. It’s a masterpiece, and Taco Bell shutters its doors forever. Ahran and Leslie are besties now and head off to get matching henna tattoos.
Side note: On Twitter earlier this week, Ahran came back to tell us she’s gone. As if we didn’t know that. As if we didn’t know our own feed. I think it’s because all the creeps on Twitter couldn’t help but notice the way she brushed her hair from forehead.
Dan and Cutter are next, and Courtney does not think their plate is very pretty. Gordon is a little more blunt. “What in the fuck is that?” he asks them. Some people just don’t work well in teams. Lawd knows, I can be a difficult partner to work with. Is Dan to blame for this? Cutter certainly thinks so. I think five minutes just isn’t enough time for two strong personalities to get through the process of defending their own ideas before coming to either a compromise or for one to submit to the other. Gordon tries the tuna and hates it. Joe comes up and Cutter tells him he doesn’t have to eat it. “I’m a judge here,” says Joe, “so why don’t you let me figure out what I have to do and what I don’t have to do? I know how to do my job.” He then proceeds to have Cutter do his job and throw their dish into the trash.
Next are Francis and Elise. They prepared a rack of lamb with crab risotto, yogurt and caviar, and holy shit, if that isn’t the most Francis-looking dish… “Frog spawn,” Gordon calls it. And that’s why he’s Gordon Ramsay. No one can painfully describe a dish as concisely as the true master.
Jaimee and Elizabeth present their lamb and red snapper with carrots and kale. A red snapper! Mmm, very tasty! They made a wise choice and didn’t go for what’s in the box. Joe likes it, and they’re safe.
Next are Daniel and Willie with their seared ahi tuna with buttermilk miso fried chicken. It has creativity. It has character. It’s Daniel and Willie on the plate. High five.
Victoria and Christine present their pork belly and monkfish with green apple risotto to Graham who instantly remarks that it’s beautiful. If you make this look like this, then you get to move on.
Christian and Frankie bring forward their Moroccan spiced rib-eye with king crab. Gordon is not feeling it. “To be honest with you,” says Christiaham Lincoln, “you know, seeing those other dishes come up here and whatnot, I just feel we could have gave a little more creativity.” Gordon calls their dish a school dinner, one of the harshest insults one can receive on MasterChef, even worse than frog spawn.
The winning dish goes to Victoria and Christine, and they can’t believe it. They are almost as excited about winning this challenge as I am about the season premiere of Hotel Hell coming in two weeks only on FOX.
Jaimee & Elizabeth, Willie & Daniel, and Ahran & Leslie are also safe. The dregs of MasterSociety are brought to the front. One more team will be saved after these whispers.
Whisper, whisper, whisper.
“The team that are safe from that Dreaded Pressure Test—is—Christian and Francis B.,” Gordon says as Frankie breathes a sigh of relief, prematurely, “it’s not you.” There it is. The classic Gordon Ramsay fakeout. He’s on top of his game today. Elise and Francis get the reprieve, and it’s all too much for the leopard printed Highlander.
Cutter, who I’m starting to think is one of Jason Sudeikis’s best characters yet, is pissed off at the whole situation. Let’s see if he can take that anger and bottle it into something delicious and incredible—or rather, wrap it into something delicious and incredible. For this Dreaded Pressure Test, they’ll have to make delicious and incredible spring rolls. If anyone has an advantage this challenge, I couldn’t tell you wu it is.
Christian, Frankie, Dan, and Cutter each put on their Dreaded black aprons and have 60 minutes to make six stunning spring rolls and a delicious dipping sauce. Time begins, and they get cooking. Dan and Frankie are confident; Christian and Cutter are not.
If Cutter doesn’t go home, he thinks Dan should. “Really? Dan Wu?” ask Gordon. “I mean, he lived in China for years.” I don’t think they actually make spring rolls in China, do they? Or is that egg rolls? Or are spring rolls and egg rolls the same thing? Someone help me here. I’m too tired to google.
“Dan Wu, Dan Wow!” says Elise, as she and Jaimee are enjoying the show from the MasterChef Balcony. Dan’s using the pasta maker to flatten his dough instead of a rolling pin. Daniel thinks it’s smart, Joe isn’t so sure. How do they do it or don’t in China?
Graham tries to give Frankie a pep talk by first reminding him of all of his recent failings. Perhaps, like most of the ladies in this competition, Graham has fallen for Frankie and has decided to make his move with a little negging.
Cook, cook, cook.
Whisper, whisper, whisper.
One of Cutter’s rolls bursts open in the deep fryer. He instinctively dives into the hot oil to rescue it. So brave.
Frankie’s rolls are looking anemic, according to Gordon. “Why so white?” he asks. Seriously, America. Why so white? Frankie tosses his already-fried spring rolls into a frying pan for a little of that double-fried, greasy goodness. Now, that’s the America I want to see.
Stop. Hands in the air.
Christian’s spring rolls go first. Graham takes a bite and looks up and to the left. There he finds his answer: the flavor is great. They aren’t perfect, but Christian will be safe.
Next, Joe examines Frankie’s rolls. “The ratio of filling is obviously way out of proportion,” he says. It’s the greasy goodness that’s the real problem. Joe takes the excess grease from the spring rolls and rubs it onto his head to get that extra sheen before conferring with the other judges.
Gordon tries Dan’s spring rolls, and he raves about the sauce. His casings are a little thick, so it appears using the pasta roller wasn’t so smart after all. Gordon is disappointed, but the sauce will probably get him through. I mean, they can’t really judge Dan’s spring rolls harder than the rest just because he’s Chinese. At least, they shouldn’t. I mean, spring rolls aren’t even from China! Or they are! I don’t know!
Cutter presents his spring rolls with a thimble of sauce to Joe. The rolls aren’t crispy and are heavy on the dough. “Very sweet. No acid at all,” declares Joe. Cutter put some vinegar in there to cut it, but perhaps he cuttered it too much.
It’s coming down to Frankie’s greasiness versus Cutter’s thickness as to who is going home. Or maybe they both are, as the judges keep warning us. Christian had the best spring rolls by far and gets sent to the MasterChef Balcony. Dan’s sauce saves him, and he follows Christian upstairs.
Graham removes his glasses, so we know the tough news is coming next. Gordon delivers it. “We said at least one of you will be leaving this kitchen tonight. Francis and Cutter, I’m afraid you are both—both, in big trouble.”
“Holy schnikies,” says Elizabeth.
“This is intense,” says Daniel.
Gordon continues, “Cutter—you’re leaving—the floor and joining the rest of them upstairs in the balcony. Say goodbye to Francis B.”
Joe sums up Frankie’s journey, “You were definitely a frontrunner, and then we saw the fall of Francis B…It’s kind of ironic that Courtney was really targeting Christian and put you as the anchor to his leg but you wound up being the one to sink.” Ironic, that. Anchors sinking.
In his interview, Frankie tells us that he doesn’t want to wait tables forever. “After being in the MasterChef Kitchen, you definitely leave inspired as a cook, and you hope for something more, something better.” Certainly, he’ll find something better than being a server for the rest of his life.
Well, Frankie, I didn’t expect to see you leave so soon. I’m sure the ladies are particularly sad to see you go, but I’m guessing your girlfriend is happy to no longer have me pointing out their attraction to you. You’re young and talented, and you have both the gifts and time to make your dreams a reality. Just remember, though, when people tell you that you’re great, don’t listen to them. Don’t get comfortable. Keep putting yourself in difficult situations and surround yourself with people you feel are better than you. This is how you'll get even better. You are going to make it on this road through life. Just, please, avoid the holes.