“Last week, we said an emotional goodbye,” the announcer tells us, “to one of the biggest Home Cooks in the MasterChef Kitchen.” What? I don’t usually mention the intros, but what the hell was that? He didn’t say that Willie had the biggest heart. He just said biggest. Why is his size important? So strange. Anyhow…
Welcome to the world famous Sunset Marquis, the favorite hotel of Guns N Roses’ lead guitarist, Slash. No joke. He’s always there. It’s also a popular destination for advertisers in Los Angeles for production, so I’m expecting Elizabeth to be very comfortable in this setting. Oh, and yes, I’ve been to the Sunset Marquis before, because I’m fancy as hell. I took the best shower of my life in one of their villas. I was a fancy man taking a fancy shower.
Jaimee would love to open her own bar and bakery someday. Is that a thing? If not, it certainly should be. Ooh! She could place a shot glass inside a donut. Or make lemoncello bars. Rum and Coke cake. 99 Bananas bread.
Today, we’re at the Cavatina Restaurant, located in the middle of the Sunset Marquis. Also, it’s Slash’s favorite restaurant. Also, I've eaten at Cavatina because, as I mentioned before, I be fancy. This is the MasterChef Restaurant Takeover!
Where’s Joe? “Joe isn’t here tonight, because he is taking care of critical restaurant business of his own as we speak,” Gordon says. What can be more critical than MasterChef?! Joe, sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.
Leslie and Jaimee are the team captains, and each time when they were captains before, it was a disaster. Jaimee tells us, “I do not want to be a team leader in this situation.” Or any situation. Ever. She picks Christian to be on her team in the hopes that he’ll take the leader responsibilities away from her. Leslie picks the Wow Girl, Elizabeth. Jaimee chooses Courtney because she isn’t Cutter, leaving him to join Leslie’s team. They’ll be feeding 50 paid extras in the dining room, but it will be Gordon and Graham deciding which team goes to the Dreaded Pressure Test, because who cares what a bunch of wannabe actors think? Regardless of how well they’re dressed.
Red Team: Leslie, Elizabeth, Cutter
Blue Team: Jaimee, Christian, Courtney
Each team will be preparing two appetizers: Prince Edward Island mussels and a Parisian gnocchi, which the announcer can’t pronounce. He’s having his worst episode of the season. Next, they’ll make two entrées: Mediterranean sea bass and a New York strip steak.
Chef Michael Schlow gives the Home Cooks a quick lesson in how to make the dishes while they all take furious notes in the color-coordinated notebooks. “This is going to be hard,” says Courtney. “I am terrified,” says Elizabeth. Jaimee is so scared that her soul has left her body and is hanging out with Slash by the pool.
Knowing that he was too complacent last time that he was a team captain, Leslie immediately takes charge of his team. And immediately begins butting heads with Cutter who insists that he’s just trying to help things work smoothly. Meanwhile, Jaimee has assigned every dish to Christian and Courtney to cook and plans to spend the rest of the evening curled up in a ball in the walk-in freezer.
Things are getting more contentious between Cutter and Leslie. “He’s an ex-beautician house bitch that works for his wife,” Cutter tells us. Ex-beautician? Did we know this? It explains Leslie’s magnificent mane. I immediately search Craigslist for any job listings for house bitch.
Leslie pulls Cutter aside for little screaming. Last time Leslie was captain, it was talk to me! This time, it’s look at me! Cutter won’t look at him. “Talk to me,” says Cutter. “Look at me!” yells Leslie.
“He’s a loser, and he’s a sad excuse of a man,” says Cutter. Ouch. He shouldn’t be underestimating Leslie, though. Personally, I’m a loser and a sad excuse for a man, but I’m also the world’s best MasterChef recap writer. It’s amazing what we losers and sad excuses for men can do when we put our minds to it.
Despite being unable to look at each other, the Red Team starts off fast, getting their first apps out quickly. Meanwhile, things aren’t going so well on the Blue Team. She received her first apron with a gnocchi dish, but Courtney has since forgotten how to make it. She admits that her gnocchi looks like glue. “You’re being polite,” says Gordon. “It looks like shit.”
Jaimee thinks that this is the perfect opportunity to give Courtney the team captain armband—you know, when she’s at the top of her game getting yelled at by Gordon for making shitty gnocchi. “I’d rather just be here and cook than be team captain and sink our ship,” Jaimee tells us. Whatever chances she had of winning MasterChef just sank.
Cutter and Leslie are actually working well together as the Red Team keeps on cookin' on. Over on the Blue Team, however, Courtney keeps on making mushy gnocchi. She decides to give the captaincy to Christian. Before this episode is over, I’ll be the captain of the Blue Team.
Cook, cook, cook.
C’mon, bro. Don’t be that guy wearing the t-shirt of the hotel you’re eating at.
Cutter can’t handle someone else making steaks, and he and Leslie go at it again. Gordon has had enough. They’re embarrassing him in front of Chef Michael Schlow, so he pulls them out front to embarrass them in front of the diners—and whoever this guy is.
Cook, cook, cook.
Service mercifully ends with both teams performing well. The paid extras give mixed reviews, but it doesn’t really matter because the winning team will be decided by Joe, who is taking a break from dealing with critical restaurant business to pick a team name out of a hat.
As the Home Cooks file into the MasterChef Kitchen, Elizabeth tells us that she has dreams of becoming a “full-time cookbook writer,” but I’m pretty sure that job doesn’t exist. And from what I’ve read, the winner of MasterChef actually gets a pretty raw deal on the cookbook profits. Season 2 winner, Jennifer Behm, didn’t even write one.
Alright, I’ll stop hating on cookbooks, because it’s time for the Dreaded Pressure Test. The judges give the win to the Red Team, so that means Jaimee, Christian, and Courtney will be cooking for their cookbook-writing lives.
They’ll each be making a stunning croquembouche. Yeah, Christian, I’d never heard of it either. Basically, it’s a tower of cream puffs.
Jaimee, can you do this? “Hell, yeah.”
Courtney, can you do this? “Yes, chef.”
Christian, can you do this? “Yeah, I guess.” Honest Christian is the best.
They get 90 minutes, and time starts—now.
This isn’t Jaimee’s first croquembouche rodeo, so she’s feeling confident. Uh oh. Each time Jaimee has told us she’s confident this season, it hasn’t worked out too well. Particularly during the Panna Cotta Heist of 2014 when Tyler saved her by snagging one of her goo-filled ramekins. Courtney is also feeling confident, though this is her first croquembouche rodeo.
And now Courtney isn’t so confident. She admits to Gordon that she might be the one to go home. “How’s that for honesty?” she asks. It’s fairly honest. Not Honest Christian honest but honest, nonetheless.
Jaimee and Courtney start building their towers while Christian waits for his sugar to brown. “I’m literally sweating in my pants right now,” he tells us, too honestly.
Time ends, and Courtney’s tower looks amazing. Jaimee’s looks okay. Christian’s—well, let’s be honest. It looks real bad.
“It’s time now to taste your cockenbush,” says Gordon. He approaches Courtney’s masterpiece. She’s the only one to apply the spun sugar, and the judges not only think it looks amazing, but it tastes perfect as well. Say what you want about Courtney; this girl can cook. You know what? Don’t say what you want about Courtney. You guys say some pretty terrible things.
Next is Christian. He’s not feeling too good for obvious reasons. His tower is uneven and two-toned. Gordon removes a puff and cuts it to reveal a pittance of cream inside. However, his profiteroles (puffs) taste good.
Last up is Jaimee. Even without the spun sugar, her tower looks decent. Gordon, however, is worried about the large amount of sugar she has used to glue the cream puffs together. He asks her to remove one for him, and she can’t do it, even after using her knife as a crowbar. She finally extracts one mangled ball, and Gordon is displeased with what he finds inside. He tells her, “It’s wet because of their undercookedness.” You know it’s bad news when the judges have to invent new words to describe your dish. Graham tries one of the cream puffs and says that the pastry cream is “kind of bland.” This is torture for Jaimee and for all of us who hate to see Jaimee cry.
The judges have a whisper huddle to decide who between Jaimee and Christian is going home. They come back out and give the win to Courtney.
And now it’s time for Gordon’s elimination speech.
“Christian and Jaimee, that was a tall order tonight. However, we can only judge you both on what you put forward.” Graham removes his glasses. “The person leaving MasterChef—and we are so sorry to see this individual go—the person leaving—,” Graham presses the stem of his glasses to pursed lips. “—MasterChef tonight—is—Jaimee Vitolo.”
“I’m so sad,” says Jaimee as she walks forward to hug the judges. Gordon offers her an opportunity to work at one of his restaurants, which Jaimee might take him up on, seeing as she has no current job. Do any of the past MasterChef contestants ever take the judges up on these offers? I doubt it. I’m not sure the rest of the kitchen staff would welcome them with open arms. Oh, you were on a reality show? I put myself in massive debt to go to culinary school. I bet you don’t even have a cocaine addiction.
We see her place her apron on her station to the sound of soft piano, and she tells us about the confidence she gained while being on the show. “I’ve overcome a lot of things that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do.”
Jaimee isn’t the kind of reality television star we’re used to. Someone this shy and quiet usually won’t make it past the first round of auditions, but there’s just something about her. She’s just so damn likeable. Though she seems like someone who hates having the cameras pointed at her, once the challenges would begin, she’d forget they were even there and gave us some of the best reactions and honest (sorry, Christian) emotion of any of the other Home Cooks.
So this is goodbye, Jaimee. Thank you for being a part of our lives every Monday night for a few months. Here’s to your confidence continuing to grow. And here’s to me getting drunk at your future bakery.