MasterChef

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Mr. Sobell: C+ | Grade It Now!
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Two Chefs Enter, One Chef Leaves

Now comes the tasting, which will be done well out of sight of the peanut gallery. Whitney and David will present their courses one dish at a time, starting with their appetizers. David presents the judges with his sea scallop ceviche and cream of pea soup, but tells the judges not to eat them together since they're such contrasting flavors. If they're not meant to be eaten together, Gordon asks, not entirely unreasonably, why are they being served together? Because David doesn't know what the hell he's doing? "It's not an appetizer," Gordon says. "It's two courses on one plate." Well, that too. After some not terribly encouraging coughing noises from the judges, we deduce that David probably put more jalapeños in that ceviche than he really should have. As for Whitney's crispy corn cake with black-eyed pea purée and turnip green pesto and shrimp, Joe frets that the shrimp may not be thoroughly cooked. So far, this competition seems to be hinging on which contestant is less likely to make the judges frantically dial up the poison control hotline.

While the contestants get their entrées, the judges debate the relative merits of the appetizers they've just choked down. Joe sort of likes the heat in David's ceviche, though Gordon seems unconvinced, what on account of the near-lethal levels of jalapeño in the dish. Gordon's also puzzled as to what the pea soup was doing there if he wasn't supposed to eat it with the ceviche. During all this talk, Graham seems to have gone to his happy place. And what of Whitney's appetizer? The purée's a delight, and everyone likes the corncake, but oh, that undercooked shrimp. "Highs and lows," Gordon says, which seems a charitable way of putting things.

The contestants are back now, with entrées in tow. David offers a traditional beef Wellington with foie gras mousse and a mushroom duxelle. Gordon reminds us, yet again, of his proficiency with beef Wellington and reiterates how he hopes the dish melts in his mouth. "It's not bad," Gordon says, after trying a mouthful. "But it's not perfect." About two more minutes would have done the trick, Gordon continues, as David starts to tear up. Well, maybe Whitney's floor chicken -- OK, OK... buttermilk chicken and creamed collard greens -- will fail to wow the judges. Particularly if it's pink and uncooked. Fortunately for Whitney, though, Gordon declares that it's cooked perfectly. And everyone seems to like the collard greens, too. Just to make it official as David and Whitney retrieve their desserts -- David's entrée had potential, but fell short; Whitney's tasted good and didn't trigger a salmonella outbreak. Score one for Whitney.

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MasterChef

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