Daniel quit his job in the video game industry to be on MasterChef, but he was always destined to be here—ever since he defeated BurgerTime as a child. What Daniel is to BurgerTime, Christian is to Domino Rally, telling us, “Once I knock one of them down, they all gonna fall.” It’s almost a perfect analogy, except in MasterChef, one domino is left standing at the end. Who will that person be? I just don’t know yet. However, I’m calling my shot right now that Leslie gets second place. I can’t explain why, but it feels like he’s being set up to lose in the finals to…Elizabeth? Courtney? Yeah, no idea.
Tonight they’re pairing the chefs up again, and the partner-choosing twist is that they are free to choose their own partners. Elizabeth immediately gets surrounded by Christian, Cutter, Leslie, and Willie, each wanting to team up with the Wow Girl. Though, perhaps Whoa Girl is a better name after seeing her reaction to their advances. Feeling a little snubbed, Courtney asks Daniel to be her partner. He’s looking for a way to tell her, “Never. Not in a million years,” which he accomplishes by immediately turning and asking Jaimee to be his partner. Jaimee quietly tells Daniel, “Never. Not in a million years,” but he can’t hear her, so they partner up.
Leslie gives Elizabeth the hard sell, telling her that he’s the “best working horse she’ll ever get.” He’s willing to give her complete creative control and quietly slips a few Benjamins in her apron to sweeten the deal. “Sold,” says Elizabeth. Personally, I would have held out for a guest spot on Melissa & Joey. Oh hey, I still haven’t told my Melissa Joan Hart story. I’ve made such a big deal about it that the actual story will surely be disappointing. I might as well save it for one more week, at least, because the teaming up of Elizabeth & Leslie sounds like a sure winner.
Cutter and Willie become a team, and that sounds like a wonderful disaster in the making. Courtney and Christian also team up. They’re supposed to hate each other, but I’m not buying it. They just seem like they should be friends to me. Don’t you think so? I can’t stand to see such a seemingly cohesive pair oppose each other, so I’m forcing them to be friends in my mind. They love each other.
Graham calls Leslie “Mr. Submissive,” but Leslie isn’t ready to admit to that.
Graham then presents a silver platter to the teams and tells them, “…to win this competition, you definitely cannot be—chicken.” He removes the lid, and would you believe that there’s a chicken under there? Leslie chuckles, Elizabeth goes, “hmm,” Courtney kind of smiles a little, and everyone is generally amused. Last season, that joke would have killed. It looks like Graham is finding out that comedy is a little easier with some extra weight on your frame.
While breaking down the chicken with ease, Gordon explains that each team is only going to prepare one cut: wing, drumstick, breast, or oyster. The oyster is that delicious part under the thigh that I totally knew existed and is called an oyster. Each cut is placed in a locked box, which the teams will be randomly selecting in the MasterChef Pantry. The twist is that they won’t be able to unlock their boxes until after they get everything they need from the MasterChef Pantry.
Wow Girl wants to do a curry, and Mr. Submissive is just fine with that. Cutter wants to make chicken & dumplings, but Willie thinks it’s a bad idea. “Cutter don’t listen,” says Willie. At home, Dan Wu silently nods in agreement.
They get back to their stations and unlock the boxes. Cutter & Willie get the “big ol’ chicken breast.” Wow Girl & Mr. Submissive get the oysters. BFFs Courtney & Christian get the legs while a disappointed Daniel & Jaimee get the wings.
They have 45 minutes to cook, and time begins.
The judges discuss the teams, and Gordon calls Leslie a “crafty old dog, the little schmuck.” He’s just racking up the titles today. The judges declare the wings to be the most difficult and the breast to be the easiest. That usually means that the breast is actually the hardest and the wings are the easiest.
Cutter is working on a hollandaise sauce, and Gordon voices his displeasure. A few weeks ago, Cutter would have kept on truckin’ with his hollandaise, but it looks like he might be taking their advice this time. Is he learning? Is he growing? Will he go on to win this whole thing? Yes, yes, and no.
Joe visits Daniel & Jaimee who are oven roasting fingerling potatoes and have their wings in the frying pan. According to Joe, keeping the wing meat on the bone doesn’t sound like a restaurant quality entrée. “That’s the hand we were dealt, so we better roll with it. Right?” asks Daniel. Joe stares at him in silence.
Gordon is not thrilled with Cutter & Willie’s plan to make chicken & dumplings. “You don’t put a breast in a broth,” he tells them, but there isn’t time for them to make something else. We could probably just skip ahead to the Dreaded Pressure Test where these two will face off against Daniel, Jaimee, and each other. We don’t even need to know what life partners Courtney & Christian are cooking.
Graham visits Courtney & Christian’s station, and after he leaves, I still can’t tell what they’re cooking. But like I said, it doesn’t matter. They’ll be fine.
“It’s like the MasterChef Love Boat out there,” says Gordon as Leslie feeds Elizabeth a bite from their dish. I think he means the MasterChef Cruise. By the way, where are my complementary tickets? Bri will be so disappointed if I’m not on that boat.
Cook, cook, cook.
I must have blacked out, because suddenly Wow Girl & Mr. Wow Girl are presenting their dish. It’s curried chicken oysters with roasted carrots. “Wow,” says Joe. “Wow,” says Gordon. They’re safe.
Next is Daniel & Jaimee. “I’m feeling pretty confident,” says Jaimee, unconvincingly. They present chicken wings with fingerling potatoes and carrots. Eating wings doesn’t make Graham feel sexy, but he likes their dish. Joe’s not blown away, but he likes their dish. They’re not safe? I have no idea after that. “That was weird,” Jaimee says to Daniel as they walk back to their station. It certainly was.
Cutter & Willie bring forward their roasted chicken breast with root vegetables and asparagus. “Wow,” says Gordon, “wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.” These are not good wows. And apparently Cutter didn’t learn and still made the hollandaise sauce. Fortunately for him, it broke, so they tossed it. The chicken is bland, though, and the asparagus has too much butt on it. He’s Gordon Ramsay, not Sir Mix-A-Lot, so they are not safe.
Hollywood power couple Courtney & Christian are next. They really do seem to be getting along, and it just feels right. They present their braised leg & thigh with beans, Brussels sprouts and tomatoes. Graham flips the thigh over and says, “That right there is the money shot.” He loves it, spraying them with spurts of compliments. However, Gordon doesn’t love the presentation. He loves the chicken and beans but hates the sprouts and tomatoes. Brussels sprouts and tomatoes don’t go together he tells them. “A bit like you two. You’re never going to get married, are you?” They say no, but come on. You can’t fight destiny.
The judges have a whisper huddle in the back while the Home Cooks have their own whisper huddles in the MasterChef Kitchen. Courtney wants to know how Elizabeth prepared the curry, but Leslie says, “Don’t share our secrets.” It turns out that Elizabeth is the one who should have signed a MasterChef Prenup before teaming up.
Team Wow Girl wins and is safe. Courtney & Christian are also safe, and I’m wondering what I just spent the past two hours doing.
It’s time for the Dreaded Pressure Test, and there’s dark magic at work. Check this out. Podium. And then a moment later, no podium. If that doesn’t give you chills, I don’t know what will.
I was right about the evil in the air. There isn’t going to be just one Dreaded Pressure Test tonight. Oh, no. Tonight, there will be three Dreaded Pressure Tests. After each Dreaded Pressure Test, one Home Cook will be safe, until one doomed chef remains. Brutal.
“What comes first,” Gordon asks, “the chicken or the egg?” As always, the answer to this riddle is that the chicken comes first. Now it’s time for the egg, and the Home Cooks will be cooking them up three different ways. First up is a poached egg, and they’ll only be getting one egg each. I don’t even know how to make a poached egg. You boil it somehow. Gordon says the secret is to add a drop of vinegar to the boiling water to keep the egg whites together. Meanwhile, Daniel pours a gallon of vinegar into his water.
Willie has his own secret. “Sing ‘Amazing Grace’ three times, and you’ll have the perfect poached egg.” Jesus suddenly appears and blesses Willie’s egg before smiting the others.
Cutter nicks his egg on the plate, and “the yolk just goes pthbtbtbtbtbt.”
Time ends, and Jaimee goes first. Gordon thinks it needs more seasoning, but other than that, he loves it.
Next is Willie, and Graham is worried he used too much vinegar and that’s what it will taste like. It doesn’t. It’s perfect. Thank you, Jesus. Praise Allah. High five, Flying Spaghetti Monster in the sky.
Daniel lost his yolk in Vietnam.
Cutter’s poached egg might have been the winner if he hadn’t clobbered it with his big, clumsy bear paws.
Whisper huddle. Willie wins.
The next Dreaded Pressure Test is egg yolk ravioli. Holy shit. What? I was expecting scrambled eggs. They need to make a single ravioli (raviolo?) that contains only the egg yolk. #NoYolk
Time begins, and they start cooking. Much to everyone’s dismay, Cutter is using a fork to seal his yolk in the pasta. #NoFork
Time ends, and Jaimee goes first. Joe has a bite and says nothing.
Next is Daniel, and Graham can immediately tell that his pasta didn’t seal all the way, and water was able to get to the yolk. “That’s no bueno,” says Daniel, whose huevos are cooked—overcooked, rather.
Gordon cuts into Cutter’s ravioli and tastes it. Silence follows.
Whisper huddle. The judges announce the winner, and it’s…Cutter! #YesFork
That leaves Daniel and Jaimee, and after this next Dreaded Pressure Test, MasterChef will have a lot less tattoos on it. The final egg dish they’ll have to make is a stunning cheese soufflé. Oh, man. The infamous soufflé finally makes its first appearance this season, and considering Jaimee is a baker, it couldn’t come at a worse time for Daniel.
Despite that, Daniel is feeling confident. Perhaps he has reason to, because Jaimee’s béchamel is too cold and her cheese is not dissolving properly. But then again, maybe he shouldn’t be too confident. His béchamel is runny, and Gordon doesn’t think his soufflé will rise. They might both be going home.
With 30 seconds remaining, they pull their soufflés out of the oven, and they both look perfect. This will be a close call.
The judges try both of their soufflés without comment and have their twenty-third whisper huddle of the evening. They break the huddle without giving any real hint of what they’re thinking.
Gordon addresses the Home Cooks, “Two very gallant attempts. Jaimee, your soufflé, great crust on the outside, beautiful seasoning. On the whole, it tasted good. But—insufficient béchamel and too much egg white. Could have done with a bit more cheese. Daniel, beautiful crust, little bit of nutmeg in there. Good flavor, the béchamel beyond belief. The issue we had? Too salty. Both of you did an amazing job. One person is leaving this competition.” Graham presses the stem of his glasses to pursed lips. “And one is joining everybody else in the balcony.”
“The person that made the best soufflé—,” Daniel closes his eyes. Jaimee looks at the floor. “—Jaimee Vitolo. Well done.”
Daniel's huevos are officially cooked, and Jaimee gives him a long hug before heading upstairs.
He quit his job to be on MasterChef, but Daniel isn’t planning on going directly back to the video game industry. “I’m going to open a little bar that serves really awesome plates, has some amazing beer on tap, and has some of the best Japanese arcade games in the world.” Including a BurgerTime machine, I’m assuming.
Daniel tears up a little during his exit interview as he tells us that he’s proud for taking a chance, and he should be. Most people don’t take enough chances in life. I like Daniel a lot. I know he gets a lot of unwarranted flak online for being a “hipster,” but hipster hate is pathetic. Calling someone a hipster as an insult only exposes both your own discomfort with your personal eccentricities and your fear of standing out from the crowd. If you insult people by calling them hipsters, then I’m guessing that you’re one of the people who are afraid to take chances. Daniel’s a real dude, and he’s out there living his life like it’s the only one he has. Gotta respect that.
Goodbye, Daniel. Thanks for taking my jokes in stride. Thanks for participating with the fans by hosting your trivia giveaways and making the designer aprons. And a big thank you for not only retweeting compliments.
Let’s play some video games next time I’m in LA. I’ve got some mad Tekken skills I’d like to show off.