MasterChef

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The Soufflé Also Rises

So it's off to the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey, where our would-be chefs will turn those fish into meals for a finicky panel of judges. Those who prepare the worst two dishes will have to square off in a pressure test, with the loser being sent home. Clear on the ground rules? Now let's meet our judges. Jeffrey Steingarten is the food critic for Vogue, but you probably know him best as the sour-faced guy on Iron Chef America who looks like he's perpetually choking down the urge to stab one of the starlet guest judges with his salad fork. Tanya Steel edits Epicurious.com. Judging by the expression on her face during her introductory shot, someone very close to her must have died the second before filming began, and one of the five remaining MasterChef contestants is likely to blame. Finally, there's Barbara Fairchild, editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit magazine, which is an influential enough publication not to go belly up. (I'm looking at you, Gourmet. Whitney squeaks about how much she admires Tanya Steel and Barbara Fairchild. Silly producers, trying to trick us into thinking Whitney is literate.

Speaking of Whitney, because she won the dessert challenge from the last MasterChef installment, she'll get an extra 15 minutes of cooktime. The other chumps just get an hour. Let's get to it then. Lee plans to keep things simple -- he's going to braise the fish and serve it with the broth -- "The same way I pulled it out of the water, I'm going to keep it on the plate," Lee declares. Presumably with less saltwater. David thinks the fish has the same consistency as lobster, and lobster makes him think of butter, so he's gonna get all Paula Deen on that fish. More to the point, he's using a saffron-butter poach, and he'll serve that fish with some couscous.

Gordon wants to know what Whitney's up to. There are roasted vegetables and an Italian theme and... are those canned tomatoes she's using in her sauce? Well, surely no one will make a fuss over that. Certainly not judges who constantly talk about "restaurant-quality dishes" like they're reciting a mantra. The judges remind the contestants to taste everything they're doing. Sheetal is none too pleased with her curry cauliflower, judging by the face she makes as she chokes it down. The curry powder she used had salt in it, to go with the salt she already used to season her dishes. Hope Jeffrey Steingarten is in the mood for a salt lick, because that's what he's getting at this point. Sheetal's starting over.

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MasterChef

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