The second episode of "MasterChef" Season 5 served up the season's first Mystery Box challenge and second Elimination Challenge. Before the round was over, one home cook was sent home for not knowing how to bake and another was sent home for putting mango in their meat loaf.
No, you actually read what you thought you did. Mango in meat loaf. Yeah. As Karen Fratti put it in her title of her Huffington Post recap on June 3, "Who Puts Mango in a Meatloaf?" But that wasn't the only crazy thing put in a meat loaf -- but more on that later...
Mystery Box Challenge:
The first Mystery Box Challenge saw 22 cooks at their stations in the "MasterChef" kitchen, all charged with the task of taking the ingredients and making a "stunning" dessert. They were given 90 minutes and were told at least one of them would be headed home at the end of the challenge.
Right away, viewers are shown that Astrid Lavenia might be in trouble. She admits she doesn't do much baking. She tells the judges as well when they ask what she's cooking, which happens to be lemon bars. But could she luck out?
Time's up and Cutter Brewer, Astrid, Courtney Lapresi, and Willie Mike are chosen to stand before the judges. They're told that two of them have the worst dishes, two have the best. Chef Gordon Ramsay quickly puts Willie and Courtney at ease and asks Cutter to bring his dish forward. Cutter has glazed his dessert with the "MasterChef" stylize "M" logo. Chef Ramsay was not amused, although Cutter stated that he did it to honor the show. His dish did nothing to regain his honor, either. Ramsay's partner, restauranteur Joe Bastianich, gave him a quick less on what biscotti were and told all in the kitchen that there were certain standards. But Cutter didn't have to worry. Astrid's lavender lemon bars weren't even baked.
Astrid was sent home.
But who had the best dish? Courtney cooked a Honey cake with a pecan, honey caramel topping, berry coulis and vanilla whipped cream, but it was a simple wedge presentation. Willie's dish, a set of Spiced Gingerbread Cakes with an orange mascarpone cream and spicy mixed berry compote, was presented beautifully. Still, it was Courtney who won the best title, even though Willie's creative dessert was a real hit with the judges, especially Chef Ramsay, who told the Lousisana cook that his creations put on a "party in [his] mouth."
Winning the Mystery Box Challenge gave Courtney the advantage of going into the "MasterChef" pantry and choosing the dish for the next challenge.
She chose a simple meat loaf.
Courtney, who won exemption from the Elimination Challenge, also got to save ten people, leaving ten at the judges' mercy. So she chose strategically, leaving most of the stronger home chefs in the kitchen. While she and her ten chosen watched from the balcony, the other ten had 60 minutes to put together a winning meat loaf.
Francis Biondi's Burrata stuffed Short Rib and Lamb meatloaf with bok choy, mushrooms and romesco sauce was judged best.
When all was said and done, the three worst meat loaves were: Stephani Syfax-Shepherd's Lamb meatloaf with couscous (yes, couscous -- you were forewarned), peppers, and a blue cheese sauce (again, forewarned), Whitney Bray's Caribbean style meatloaf with lemongrass, soy sauce, and mango glaze, and Dan (the self-proclaimed food snob) Wu's Asian inspired veal, pork, and short rib meatloaf with kimchi (probably the craziest and worst idea of all, actually) and mushrooms.
Whitney, who let us all know she was a culinary school drop-out, was deemed worst, even though Dan's kimchi enhanced monstrosity was judged "disgusting" by Chef Gordon Ramsay.
"MasterChef" moves to June 6 for its third episode, airing at 8 p.m. (EST) on Fox Television.