MasterChef
Top 14

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Mr. Sobell: B- | Grade It Now!
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One Egg to Rule Them All

Previously, on Yan Can Cry: Amateur chefs came. Amateur chefs went. Tears were shed. Thirty chefs got aprons. More tears. Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich preside over it all. Someone's getting screw-up-your-taxes money and a cookbook deal out of all this. Up to speed? Goody.

As the 30 remaining would-be chefs arrive, the pleasant-sounding lady who handles voice-over duties informs us that, for some, "the dream of a lifetime ends today." If that dream means cooking in a pristine kitchen like those high-falutin' Top Chef cheftestants, then the dream has ended right now. Tonight, they'll be cooking in an unsanitary warehouse. There's a table set-up with 30 knives jammed into 30 chopping boards. That is not going to do much for the sharpness of those knives, I don't think.

"You've all earned the right to wear that apron," Gordon says by way of greeting. "Today will determine whether you get to keep it or not." And with that -- bring in the truck, boys! Yes, a truck carrying a payload of onions drives into the warehouse and drops its cargo in front of the gasping contestants. If they want to progress beyond today, Gordon tells them, they're going to have to prove to the three judges that they can successfully slice and chop an onion. Gordon recalls his 22-year-old self arriving in France to an unglamorous onion-chopping gig: "Fifteen hours a day, six days a week, I got my butt kicked chopping onions. Why?" Because those Frenchies love them some onions? Perhaps. But also because the contestants need to put in a similar effort to really master these kinds of skills. "If you can't cut an onion, you have no place in a kitchen," Joe sniffs. Which brings us to our first elimination competition: chop onions until the judges tell you to stop, at which time they'll let you know if you've sliced and diced your way to safety or if you've butchered your last allium.

I confess to being torn about this elimination competition. On the one hand, I think making sure the MasterChef aspirants can pull off a basic culinary task is a wholly appropriate challenge. On the other hand, man, is that a lot of onions. Like these cats need another excuse to start crying.

Your onion-chopping time starts... now! And 30 seconds in, we have our first casualty in the Great Onion War of 2010, as some guy we barely saw during the first two episodes has cut the dickens out of his finger. Then, Mike -- the hat-wearing guy who wowed the judges in Week One with his Duck Ssam -- follows suit. And before the first minute is up, at least four MasterChef contestants have chopped their fingers to bits. There are disaffected goth teenagers who find this much self-mutilation distasteful

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