Michael, a 34-year-old-server who's decided to distinguish himself by wearing a hat, takes that message to heart. His Duck Ssam with orange miso sauce wins raves from the judges. "You move like a chef, and clearly, you cook like a chef," Gordon says. "That is like sex in the mouth," Graham enthuses. Joe says something equally complimentary that does not require me to scrub my brain with Lysol to wash out the image of Graham Elliot and mouth-sex. Michael gets an apron. It does not necessarily clash with his hat.
More successes follow. A lady who prepares a southwestern seafood salad with chipotle lime dressing gets an apron; maybe next week, she'll get a name, too. The same goes for a 62-year-old lady who also gets an apron after Gordon shames Joe for guzzling too much of her wine. Another fellow who makes New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp is awarded an apron, but only after Gordon makes him yell like some kind of participant at a "Unleash Your Inner Yes" seminar down at the Airport Sheraton.
Enough of this parade of nameless and competent cooks. Let's get up-close and personal with Tracy, a doctor from Atlanta, who's competing on the strength of her mother's recipes. Did I mention her mother is deceased? Did I also mention the third anniversary of her mother's passing is apparently just a few days after her chance to cook under Gordon Ramsay's disdainful eye? This has the potential to go very pear-shaped very fast. Fortunately, though, either Tracy is a very good cook or her mother left her very good instructions (or some combination of the two) because she's granted an apron. "You're the one reason that MasterChef was launched," Gordon says. "Amateur chefs that are really good." There is much sobbing.
That's enough success for now. Let's go to our montage of failure, featuring a pedestrian Cuban paella, an overcooked wine-tarragon chicken, and a wheat-cracker-encrusted ahi tuna that looks like it seriously deserves a paddling. Seriously, dude -- you're coating a fine piece of fish with Triscuits? Pack your knives and g... well, we'll think of our catchphrase sooner or later.
Let's spend some quality time with Dave, a software engineer from Boston, who does not want for self-assurance. "Some people call me cocky," he says. "I prefer over-confident." Look, let's just split the difference and settle on "jackass," OK? He's preparing what he's billed a New England-style bouillabaisse. Gordon thinks that's an odd name since a perfect bouillabaisse requires at least two days to prepare. Good thing it's not a perfect bouillabaisse, then. In fact, no one seems to have very nice things to say about either the dish or Dave himself. "My problem is when you're good at creating something, it creates a confidence," Gordon says. " When you're insecure about something, it creates an arrogance." Graham thinks Dave should get an apron. Gordon is opposed. The deciding vote, then, comes down to Joe, who agrees to keep Dave on because... well, why the hell not, apparently. We didn't spend all this time on him just to send him home now. In gratitude, Dave makes gibbering monkey faces for the camera, like an orangutan trying to fathom why it is we humans cry.