"MasterChef" began Mondy evening with the judges striding out into the "MasterChef" kitchen to stand before a large silver box. The remaining thirteen finalists have no idea what's in store, but Cutter Brewer, who was nearly cut last week, assumes the advantage is all his by simple linear logic: Big box plus he's from Texas, where everything is bigger. (Yeah... he actually found an advantage in that.) But what was in the big box and what would the Mystery Box challenge be? And who would be set up to go home in the Elimination Test?
Mystery Box Challenge
The contestants are tasked with creating a dish using Alaskan King Salmon, which can run up to $450 per fish. They are given sixty minutes. But there is a twist. They will be preparing their dishes while the judges perform an exercise of their own. BuddyTV recapped the show July 21, noting that the judges showed the finalists "how it's really done" in the "MasterChef" kitchen. Chef Gordon Ramsay fileted his fish quickly and with efficiency. Chef Graham Eliot then cooked it and served it to restauranteur Joe Bastianich. This was all accomplished within half an hour.
Elise Mayfied seemed to have problems all night, beginning with the Mystery Box Challenge. She has a panic attack and a medic is called to tend to her, forcing her to leave the kitchen. However, she returned and completed her dish in the time that remained, doing her best. But after all the drama, the top three dishes are revealed to have been cooked by Christian Green, Elizabeth Cauvel, and Courtney Lapresi (something Elizabeth did not agree with). But annoyed or no, it was Christian's risk-taking that won the judges' favor (he cooked a Cajun-styled salmon dish) and he was named the winner. This earned him the advantage for the Elimination Challenge.
As per usual, Christian is given immunity during the Elimination Test. He was then given a choice of three themed baskets for his competitors to cook from, and he chose Judge Joe's Italian-themed basket. The remaining 11 contestants were given sixty minutes, but, just to throw in a last-second monkey wrench, Joe announced that Christian would be given another advantage: He would get choose a contestant that would be given just thirty minutes to cook and plate their dish. Since Courtney seems to be his biggest threat (and she has definitely shown herself on a roll in the past few weeks), Christian picks her to have her cooking time cut in half.
Elise again had problems, openly admitting that the dish she was preparing was subpar. Chef Ramsay decided to give her a culinary lesson and proceeded to show her how to properly roll out perfect pasta. Ahran Cho, the youngest contestant in the competition, also appeared to be in trouble. The judges felt she just might be setting herself up for failure: She has decided to construct a savory Tiramisu dessert.
After the judges called time, they first tasted Courtney's dish, of course. But Christian's plan of flustering and ridding himself of Courtney's presence in the "MasterChef" kitchen has backfired. Instead of producing something unimaginative but adequate in her shortened time, she impressed them, building a beautiful dish and prompting the judges to wonder aloud, as they are wont to do, if Christian wasted his advantage.
The judges went on tasting and judging, praising several dishes, including those belonging to Christine Silverstein, Victoria Scroggins, Elizabeth, and much to the judges' surprise, Ahran. Leslie Gilliam's dish was considered poorly plated (and could very well define "ugly on a plate") but he gets kudos on taste. Willie Mike, though, totally disappointed the judges with his tomato soup with an egg and flatbread, and Chef Ramsay asked him to rate his own dish on a scale of one to ten. Willie gave it an eight, but Chef Ramsay was having none of that with something so pedestrian and unimaginative. He sniped: "That's seven points too high." And Cutter, who had failed to get that advantage he thought he was predisposed to get in the Mystery Box Challenge, slig once again in the estimation of the judges with his small "artisan" (his words) pizza. Chef Ramsay called it "lazy," and Joe spit it out, telling Cutter that his dish was "an insult." (Really: Who puts sauce under the crust of a pizza?) And just when you think Cutter has exhausted his time in the "MasterChef" kitchen, Elise steps in to save him. Her dish was also a big let-down, being small, bland, and that it tasting as if Elise had given up (Chef Ramsay's phrasing).
Once the taste tests were complete, the judges awarded Elizabeth and Ahran as the best. This, of course, gave the two women team captain positions for the next team challenge.
The judges then tossed in a twist: Instead of naming the bottom three dishes, as per show usual, they asked the two home cooks with the worst dishes to admit their offerings were worst by raising their hands. Willie, Elise and Cutter raised their hands. So a second chance was given and Cutter lowered his hand. Chef Ramsay said that although Willie's dish was a poor entry, Cutter was wrong, so he and Elise headed to the front of the kitchen to face final judgment.
Chef Ramsay told Cutter that he wasn't sure how much longer he deserved to stay in the competition, since it was his fifth time making the bottom. He wondered aloud if Cutter was simply too stubborn and unwilling to learn. And yet, when asked if she was done in the "MasterChef" kitchen, Elise was so unsure in her answers, her lack of confidence in herself evident in the words she chose, questioning herself as she said she could go on. And if there's one thing Chef Gordon Ramsay is good at detecting, it is those without the will, the stamina, or the fortitude to continue getting the job done. It was decided that Elise would be eliminated, because the judges felt she could no longer handle the pressures of the competition.
And so Cutter Brewer survived another cut... becoming of twelve remaining finalists.
"MasterChef" airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. (EST) on Fox Television.