Tuesday, September 9, 2014

S5E16: If I Only Didn't Have Brains

This is it, guys. We’re down to the Top 5, and you know what that means. Two-hour episodes! Well, shit. Good thing these only take me about four hours to write. Let’s meet our remaining cheftestants!

We have Elizabeth, advertising executive and aspiring professional cookbook writer.

There's Leslie, stay-at-home Malibu dad and stepfather to the stars.

Don't forget about Courtney, aerial dancer and high-heel aficionado.

And everyone's favortite Home Cook, Cutter, former search-and-rescue diver turned petroleum landbear.

And last but not first, there's Christian, the most honest competitor in the history of the program and #YourNolaMasterChef #FFT (It means Food For Thought. I finally figured it out.)

“I’m in the Top 5,” Leslie tells us. “It doesn’t get any better than this except for number one.” That might be true, but let’s not discount how good a nice number two can feel, and number two is where I’ve had Leslie slated to finish for a while now.

Christian dreams of owning a food truck, and he’s doing this for his fiancée who is in constant need of a ride.

The judges stand in front of a giant Mystery Box almost large enough to contain a food truck, but before we see what’s under it, we get to see what’s under the regular-sized Mystery Boxes placed in front of each Home Cook. Nothing! You’re so stupid!

They raise the giant Mystery Box, and Courtney immediately breaks down in tears when she sees a bunch of feet—it’s more the shoes than the feet that get to her. Attached to these feet are the Home Cooks’ loved ones: Courtney’s six-year-old brother, Cooper; Christian’s smokin’ hot fiancée, Jasmine; Elizabeth’s fine young man of a husband, Ross; Cutter’s exquisitely mustachioed papa bear, Dave; and Leslie’s beautiful and fantastically amazing wife, Paula, who should seriously consider hiring me as a staff writer.

The Home Cooks will be preparing their #MCFamily’s favorite dishes.

Leslie: herb crusted rack of lamb

Cutter: just a good ol’ blackened red snapper steak (red snapper, very tasty)

Elizabeth: Italian meatballs and grits (Not bad, thinks Joe.) 

Christian: seafood gumbo

Courtney: Cheerios—wait, no. It’s mac & cheese.

Their 60 minutes starts…NOW. Everybody, #MCFamily included, run to the MasterChef Pantry to get ingredients.

Cutter was five when his father, Dave, married his mom and adopted him. The two of them seem to have a great relationship, and it hits me right in the feels to see Cutter tear up when talking about him. Being a single guy in his 30s who occasionally dates single mothers, I have nothing snarky to say about it.

Leslie’s wife, Paula, is the breadwinner of the family, and there’s no shame in that, you horrible internet people. “She’s a wonderful mother,” he says. “She’s my soul mate.” And if you were to follow them on Twitter, you’d find that she takes great umbrage at anything negative you might have to say about Leslie. These two have a unique and enviable relationship, and they should seriously consider hiring me as a staff writer.

The loved ones head upstairs to the MasterChef Balcony as the Home Cooks get cooking. Christian has to figure out how to make a two-hour gumbo in less than an hour, and Courtney has to figure out how to elevate mac & cheese. She figures some lobster and truffles should do the trick. Barf! Right, Cooper?

Cook, cook, cook.

Joe thinks Leslie has the advantage with his restaurant protein rack of lamb. Graham thinks Elizabeth has the disadvantage with her dumpster dining dish of meatballs and grits. The clock begins to wind down, and the crowd goes mild, counting down the last 10 seconds with the energy of a sloth on Ambien.

Hands in the air. Thumbs up, dude. 

It’s time for the top three dishes, and Courtney’s lobster mac & cheese with fried quail egg is first. She explains to Gordon how to cut into the egg before eating, and he manages to barely contain his rage over being instructed how to eat. Despite this, he loves the dish. So does Joe, who capitalizes on the opportunity to say, “fonduta.”

Second is Christian with his seafood gumbo with andouille sausage. “It’s like taking a big drink from the ocean,” says Graham. Well, that sounds pretty terrible, but he means it in a good way. Gordon would have preferred less rice, but overall, he likes it.

Last up is Elizabeth with her meatballs & grits with broccoli rabe. Italian Joe approves, calling it “a very strong dish.” Gordon tastes with a “wow” and an “mmm.” Despite his admiration for the Wow Girl, Leslie can’t help but clap with a hint of anger at not being called forward.

And the winner of the Mystery Box Challenge is (commercial break) Elizabeth. If she wasn’t before, she’s definitely the frontrunner in this competition now.

The Home Cooks say a goodbye to their loved ones, and Elizabeth follows the judges to the MasterChef Pantry. She is presented with four plates printed with the faces of her remaining competitors. She quickly smashes them to smithereens, thus ending the competition right then and there. No? Okay, let’s keep going then.

Elizabeth is presented with four proteins, each of which she will assign to someone. First up is something Gordon loves to cook: a gigantic ox heart. Or if you're a pregnant woman, consider eating it raw. If you can keep it down, your child will grow to be very strong.

Next, Graham presents veal brains. These brains are very delicate and have been extracted from one of the finest, dumbest calves in the world.

Then Joe pulls out a lamb’s tongue. He just rips it out of a sheep's mouth right then and there. It’s brutal and very metal.

Last is “a delicacy beyond belief,” describes Gordon as he pokes at two round lumps of meat on a cutting board. “Those are balls, chef,” declares Elizabeth with confidence. They’re buffalo testicles to be precise, and they appear to be inscribed with some sort of Hebrew writing. Holy balls!

“If you don’t have the proper technique,” says Gordon, “this can become a mouthful—nobody wants to eat.” Elizabeth will have to put a protein on each face. That’s right. Someone’s getting balls on their face.

Back in the MasterChef Kitchen, the judges show the other four Home Cooks the proteins that they will be cooking. “Are you excited?” asks Gordon, to which they all reply yes except for Honest Christian who gives an emphatic “No, Chef.”

They get one hour, and time begins as they rush to the MasterChef Pantry to discover which strange protein each of them will have to make.

Christian has the brains. Leslie has the tongue. Cutter has the giant heart. And Courtney? Yep. Courtney has the balls

“I’m taking this dish, and I’m going to flip this around,” says Courtney as every guy watching recoils in horror. “This is going to be the fanciest bull testicle anyone has ever seen in their life.” She immediately gets to work on making tiny top hats.

Gordon says that the brains are the most difficult of the four proteins. Christian has no experience working with brains, but he’s trying his best. He’s making a brain pasta with vegetables and no cheese. Joe is worried that Christian isn’t properly using his brains.

Leslie is working with his tongue like usual. He has a huge advantage, considering that his protein can not only taste itself but also tell him when it’s fully cooked.

Testicles don’t scare Courtney. She’s handling them like a seasoned veteran. When selecting the proteins, Elizabeth badly wanted to give Courtney the shaft, but it just wasn’t an option.

Cutter is working with a huge piece of meat, perhaps too large. Normally, it would take hours to do it proper justice, but he’s confident he can handle it in the time allotted.

Cook, cook, cook.

Joe thinks Christian is hitting an all-time low. He and Graham watch with dismay as Christian puts his pasta in a bowl of ice water.

Leslie says that if he doesn’t make the Top 4, then the judges don’t have taste buds. Well, they’re having taste buds regardless

Stop. Hands in the air.

Christian goes first, and he’s visibly upset with his veal brain pasta with tomato sauce. Joe is surprised to find the pasta to be not terrible, but he hates the tomato sauce. “The brains are delicious,” he says. “It’s everything else that pulled you down.” Graham calls it the worst dish he’s every presented. Not looking good for Christian.

Courtney presents fried buffalo testicles with mixed vegetables. It’s technically called a pot-au-feu, but let’s not get all technical with these balls. Gordon calls her balls glamorous despite the absence of a top hat. The entire time she’s up there, Gordon can’t stop shoving balls into his mouth. Graham smells her balls before taking a bite. He loves them. She’s safe.

Leslie brings forward his braised lamb tongue with spinach and bok choy. Gordon says it looks clumsy and notes that Leslie didn’t clean the back cartilage from the tongue. Despite that, he thinks it tastes good. Joe describes the dish as not great. Not looking great for Leslie.

Cutter presents his seared ox heart with stuffed poblano. “This is the first time I’ve ever truly seen you on a plate,” Graham tells him. He loves the dish. Joe can’t say enough good things about the dish: the cook, the rub, the contrast, the richness. It’s hella good, and Cutter—much to the chagrin of all of his haters—will be moving on to the Top 4.

Courtney gets the official win as she and Cutter are sent upstairs to join Elizabeth on the MasterChef Balcony. Hip bump. 

That leaves Christian and Leslie, and Joe delivers the news. “The person going home—is—” Hold everything! Gordon needs another whisper huddle before they finalize their decision. We hear them discussing how the protein is the hero, which would lead you to believe that Christian will be safe—if you’ve never watched this show before.

They break the whisper huddle, and Gordon addresses them. “This is the toughest decision that we’ve made so far. Christian and Leslie, whatever the result is tonight, it hurts us to say goodbye.” Graham presses the stem of his glasses to pursed lips. “The person leaving MasterChef tonight—not advancing to the final four—that person is—Christian.”

Leslie shakes Christian’s hand before hugging him and saying, “Good luck, bro man. I wish you the best.” He heads upstairs to join the others who are extremely disappointed with the results.

Graham tells Christian that he’s one of the best cooks they’ve ever had in the competition, and Gordon says that if Christian needs an investor for his food truck business (he does) to call him.

Christian predicts Elizabeth will win it all before shaking Gordon’s hand and placing his apron on his station.

In his exit interview he tells us. “I came into this competition with nothing, and I gave it everything that I got…I can’t wait to get that food truck. I can’t wait to follow the dream I came here to do.”

Christian doesn’t just walk out the doors. He dances. 

He was a pleasant surprise this season. If I can be honest with you, I thought Honest Christian was early episode cannon fodder. But he proved me wrong. It turns out that he was one of the strongest cooks in the competition, and if he had more experience with different types of food before going on the show, he might have been the one holding the trophy at the end.

So goodbye, Christian. I hope you get that food truck. I honestly do.

1 comment :

  1. Great recap as usual, thanks Joel!

    Top hats on balls, now there's a visual. I also agree with you on Christian being the pleasant surprise of the season. You were also right about there being no comeback episode this season. Too bad.

    I'll check back for the second recap, thanks!