Masterchef 4 Recap: Team Mystery Box and Chocolate (S4E23)

Disclaimer: I know who got eliminated, and I know who wins, so I apologize if my analysis is somewhat biased due to my spoiler knowledge. Call me out on it!

After a highly engineered elimination that saw poor James get the axe, this episode proves to be just as engineered and dramatic with the previews showing Krissi and Jessie getting into a huge catfight. It’s easy to see why Krissi’s and Jessie’s personalities clash. In a high school context (which strangely, was only about two years ago for me. feels like forever!!), Jessie is like a varsity cheerleader, gorgeous, popular, always smiling, while Krissi is the girl way down on the social ladder, loud, brassy, a little rough around the edges, not afraid to show her emotions. It’s a clash of personalities that promises a high school cafeteria-esque cat fight.

The episodes start and it’s revealed that while in the last episode, what was normally a “team challenge” was individual, this time what is usually an individual pressure test will become a “team challenge”. An odd choice, and I can’t help but think that they are doing this to build up the catfight that will inevitably unfold. Once again, Joe’s exaggerated acting and writhing face muscles crack me up. Luca gets to pick first, and exclaims that it’s the biggest advantage that he’s ever had. I personally think that winning a mystery box, earning immunity, and getting to assign stuff to your contestants is a much bigger advantage. Luca’s penchant for being extremely exaggerated and somewhat dramatic is probably what enhances his appeal to both the producers and audience, which combined with his cooking skills is what has gotten him so far in this “competition.”

Luca picks Natasha first, which isn’t a surprise to me. He clearly values her cooking abilities over any disagreements they may have had in the past. I honestly think that Natasha is the strongest cook in the whole competition. She and Adrien Nieto, of MasterChef Season 2, recently did a pop up, and looking at some of the instagram photos and descriptions of the dishes, what they put out was absolutely incredible. Way more stunningly sophisticated and creative than anything that I’ve seen out of the other three contestants, and possibly any contestant EVER in the history of MasterChef (aside from “freak genius” Alvin Schultz, also of Season 2). The menu that they put out could easily have been in some of the best restaurants in the country, and the $75 that they asked for it. If you ever have the chance to attend one of their pop-ups, don’t miss out!

That leaves Krissi and Jessie as a team. No surprise there. I can already foresee what is going to happen. They will start struggling as a team, get into a HUGE fight, cause the MULTITUDES of people that hate Krissi to hate her even more intensely, they will lose the challenge, go into the pressure test, where Jessie will beat Krissi, and 95% of the people watching MasterChef will do huge fist pumps and set off fireworks in celebration of the satisfaction of seeing Krissi get eliminated after being such a huge “asshole” this season and particularly in this episode through the fight with darling Jessie. Sound about right? Keep in mind that I am only about 3 minutes into this episode at the time of writing this paragraph. Hahaha.

Notice something: the clip of Natasha saying “we don’t care for each other one bit”. Who is she referring to? “Luca!” says the majority of people reading. But is she REALLY referring to Luca? Who’s to say that the interviewer didn’t ask the question about Jessie, or Krissi, and have the editors conveniently splice the audio in? Again, the saddest thing about watching this show is that I don’t trust anything that they try and get me to believe anymore.

OMG. I rewatched that clip of Luca saying “Natasha and I have this….????” 5 times and couldn’t figure out what he was saying. Over and over again, trying to figure it out, but all I heard was “Natasha and I have this drive for two sex.” ?????? Finally turned the captions on in Hulu, and it read “Natasha and I have this drive for success.” THAT makes a lot more sense. Still, you can’t help but love and laugh at Luca and his adorable accent.

And here come the smack talk. Jessie calling Krissi “the thing”? Ouch…. She says that Krissi has no concept of “team”, and I can understand why she might feel that way based on her big, brassy, independent personality. But as recently as the WP-24 challenge. I remember Krissi struggling with the shrimp and feeling awful because she was letting the team down. I also remember a sushi challenge a while back, where I don’t remember who she worked with (was it natasha?), but she knew she was weak in that area, and humbly followed her teammate’s every instruction, didn’t let her ego get in the way, and just worked amazingly as a team player. I hadn’t watched the majority of the episodes this season (I stopped early on and didn’t pick back up until recently to cover for Ben), so I can’t say much about those episodes, but I can say that Krissi is far from the self-centered impossible to work with deadweight that Jessie is making her seem like.

The mystery box is FILLED with amazing, luscious, fresh, decadent, luxurious ingredients. Fresh seafood, fine wines, a variety of gourmet produce, herbs, spices, seasonings. It’s basically a mini MasterChef pantry, so I don’t get why this was even in a “Mystery Box” setting. Why not just let the contestants loose in the pantry to gather the ingredients that they want to cook with instead? I doubt the results would have been much different.

Graham claims there is an ingredient from each state, which I HIGHLY doubt, but, eh, difficult to prove or disprove. It would be cool to see an actual list of what all the ingredients are. The eye can only catch so much… With 50 ingredients though, the possibilities are ENDLESS. I can’t even begin to try and figure out what I would try to make unless I was there to absorb it all.

Natasha and Luca have some interesting ideas flowing, while Natasha and Krissi are having problems early. Ramsay goes ahead and plays the popularity card on Krissi, and this is headed in a very negative direction very quickly. For the record, I think the idea of greens, lobster meat, and fried oysters is a weird combination that I would have shot down as well, but the shaved asparagus with lemon vinaigrette options sounds PHENOMENAL. With some butter poached lobster and a light grating of some sort of cheese, it would be an amazing appetizer salad. *drool*

LOL at the seafood medley salad. It does sound a bit old school (I’m picturing a whole bunch of canned seafood mixed with mayonnaise…blech). In practice though, I’m sure Luca and Natasha can execute it and make it delicious, but might I suggest renaming it to something less reminiscent of a stale Chinese buffet item? haha. The rest of the menu sounds very classic: Lamb with beets and goat cheese (wonder which state this is from?), strawberry tart. They might be criticized for playing it almost too safe.

It sounds like Krissi and Jessie ARE going to go with the lobster salad with shaved asparagus idea. Gordon criticizes the dressing for the lobster as not rich and citrusy enough. I personally don’t see a problem with a light vinaigrette as long as there is some richness element to the salad (like the cheese), or if it’s followed up by a heavier entree for balance. Gordon also criticizes the raw garlic used. Many prominent chefs have expressed dismay at the the use of raw garlic in a dish. Personally, I like it. It’s a foundation for MANY Chinese lengcai or cold dishes, like seaweed salad, chilled beef tendon salad (which I made for my initial MasterChef open casting call in austin), cold noodle salad, etc. I eat raw garlic mixed with sesame oil and chinese black vinegar in HEAPS with my dumplings. However, I might agree that too much raw garlic can easily overpower the delicateness of the lobster and the asparagus in the salad. The entree is going to be an herb crusted rack of lamb (no sides mentioned), and an apple tarte tatin/tart for dessert. A tart tatin is just an apple tart that has had the apples cooked and caramelized heavily before being baked “upside down” with the crust on top, inverted before serving. There’s not THAT much of a difference between the two, except with the tarte tatin the apples are pre-cooked for longer. Apparently there are green beans in the salad too, which I agree is a somewhat weird addition. Jessie says that she had no idea about the beans, and it sounds like they are kind of making stuff up as they go. Hopefully they get it all figured out.

When Graham and Joe come to Natasha and asking her questions, her response to the question “if you are Luca are in the pressure test, who is staying?” is DRIPPING with sarcasm to those that paid attention. It’s as if she were saying “What do you expect me to say, idiots?” If she says herself, she comes across as being arrogant and overconfident, but if she says Luca then she comes across as insecure and weak. Damned both ways.

Krissi is getting frustrated, because when she takes over the pie crust, she discovers that it isn’t chilled. Chilling is crucial to ensure a pie crust turns out flaky, and apparently by the time she realizes it there isn’t enough to chill it and bake it (say, what about that blast chiller that YALL GOT THIS SEASON HM?? *grumble*). She then asks Jessie if she knows how to make a crepe, and Jessie throws out some uncertain measurements with the most hilarious expression on her face that I’ve seen all season. It’s actually refreshing to see the producers edit in some of her emotions this episode rather than the perma-smile that they show her with. Krissi is struggling with the crepes, and repeatedly tells Jessie that she isn’t comfortable making them. Her first attempt in the pan looks like she didn’t use any oil/butter to grease it (crucial, even in a nonstick pan, to keep the crepes from sticking). At this point I’m just wondering why they didn’t swap places/tasks, but who knows what was actually going on then. Jessie quips “You better pick SOMETHING you can cook” and Krissi takes issue with the insinuation that she can’t cook anything, despite the pie crust issue being out of her control and her openness from the beginning that she wasn’t comfortable doing the crepes. Credit to her for not blowing up then and there, though you can almost see the steam whistling out of her ears, cartoon-style.

I also am kind of amused at the bleep patterns of MasterChef. Why are words like “shit” and “fuck” bleeped, but words like “bitch”, “damn”, “hell”, and I’m pretty sure even “bastard” have been left as is? Maybe it’s some weird FTC regulations, but it still strikes me as being a bit pointless to leave “bitch” in but bleep “fuck” out.

Krissi apparently leaves the kitchen to cool down, and that leaves Jessie with horrendous amount of finishing work. I can clearly understand Jessie’s frustration too. There just seems like a complete lack of communication. If I were Krissi, I would have simply said “Jessie, I can’t do these crepes. You come do these, get them knocked out, and I’ll go over there and help finish whatever it is that you are working on.” That’s all it would have taken to keep things moving forward. But the lack of communication leads to a dramatic escalation of the conflict, and while I don’t know the full situation, Krissi leaving is a huge setback to the “team” that has left Jessie virtually helpless as the bus is approaching to run her over.

Krissi heads back to the station after a few minutes, and makes a makeshift dessert with the caramelized apples, some whipped cream, and toasted macadamias. Definitely not a restaurant quality dessert, but like she said “It’s something”.

Luca and Natasha present their dishes. The starter is a lobster tail, a “barely cooked” (torched) trout, and a fried oyster. Not quite a seafood salad, and while the dish looks okay, I don’t really see a cohesiveness between the various elements. The individual components are executed well apparently, which is a saving grace. Personally, I would find the idea of a giant cooked lobster tail on a plate almost naked rather unappealing. Lobster by itself doesn’t have that much flavor, and the amount of garnish/sauce on the plate doesn’t look sufficient to support the lobster. And lobster is a protein that NEEDS support. So the balance is off, but the execution according to Joe is good.

The lamb entree looks cooked well, but once again the balance seems to be a bit off. The dish looks flat, both “height wise” and just in overall visual appearance. Some greens (char those beet greens on the stove and dress them with some lemon and olive oil!) would have enhanced the dish, and overall I just feel the mixture of lamb, beets, and parsnips is missing some elements to make it a balanced, cohesive dish. Gordon’s comments/criticisms actually mostly make sense. The beets did look just kinda thrown on there, without a real tie-in to the dish, and having them soak in that red wine jus due to how they plated the dish kinda destroys their character.

The dessert looks nice, and referring to it as a deconstructed strawberry tart is a good way to put it. The pastry cream does look quite thick (it did even as she was plating it, so the time spend between cooking and tasting wasn’t a factor here), so she might have used too much starch. It’s not a particularly impressive dessert, nor a particularly impressive meal as a whole from Luca and Natasha, and honestly I expected better from them.

Krissi and Jessie’s lobster appetizer looks stunning, and I would eat the shit out of that. Some crostini or other element (like the shaved asparagus originally discussed!!) to go with the beautiful lobster would have been great, but visually it has much greater appeal than Luca and Natasha’s dish. Joe gives similar feedback, saying “it’s just missing one thing”. Personally I actually like the lobster claw garnish to give it some height though…to each his own I guess.

Krissi and Jessie’s entree looks more composed as well. More balanced, more colorful, though I think it could have used more of the “red wine jus”. I don’t really see much if any of it on the plate. The lamb is not cooked properly, and Ramsay brings up a good point. Why does Krissi let other team members take over her station and not say anything until the judging portion? I think that Krissi realizes that she isn’t the most popular kid in the room, and when somebody criticizes her and wants to take over, she lets them rather than throwing a huge hissy fit and letting her ego get in the way and distracting from the task at hand. Then when the judges criticize the dish, she uses that moment to, in a way, say “I told you so.” I think it’s a case of somebody with a strong personality realizing that she is offending people, and overcompensating by being too meek and humble and NOT speaking up when she should. It’s a mistake, but I can relate to the decision to not speak up and make a scene and cast yourself as even more unpopular than you already were (I was extremely “unpopular” growing up). There were COUNTLESS moments like that for me in school all the time when I worked in groups, had a brilliant idea but was shot down by the more popular and highly regarded members in the group and just watched the group sink until I had my “I told you so” moment.

The dysfunction in the team becomes more apparent as they talk about the dish, and it all boils down to one thing for me. Lack of communication. Let me tell you something, guys. In ANY relationship, whether it be personal, professional, romantic, platonic, whatever, the key to having a successful relationship that is effective, mutually beneficial, and long lasting is to have an abundance of honest and open communication. I cannot stress this enough. I hate when people don’t say something, or flat out lying because they are afraid of offending people or being judged. I hate when people are too shy about something to speak up. I hate when people want something but are afraid to ask it. Too many times, people are so afraid of saving face and making themselves look bad that it’s almost like the forget how to communicate properly. Growing up in Asian culture, this was and IS a HUGE problem. So much of Asian culture is based on honor and looking good in other people’s eyes, which to me is complete and utter bullshit. Everybody should just be themselves, be open and proud of who they are, and if the people you’re with can’t handle that, find a new group of people to be with. It’s this kind of mindset that draws me to Krissi, who for the most part is unapologetically herself, fuck what the world thinks. Ironic that her lack of communication is what sunk the ship in the team challenge.

For once this episode, I actually completely agree with just about all of the feedback the judges have given thus far. The feedback does tend to be more genuine at the later stages of the competition.

Based on the food alone, it would SEEM like Krissi and Jessie had the edge. It seems better executed and more balanced overall. Based on team dynamics though, Luca and Natasha clearly had the edge. It will be interesting to see how the judges spin the decision. They pick Luca and Natasha, and leave Jessie and Krissi to duke it out in the pressure test. Jessie calls Krissi a cow over and over again, which to most people sounds like an insult in reference to her weight or intelligence. She claims on twitter that it’s a reference to “personality.” Regardless, she’s frustrated as well and I can understand her frustration, being left to do a lot of the work at the most crucial point in the challenge. But her perfect aura of perfection and positivity is losing its luster, and that may well be a sign of things to come.

Question for you guys, does Luca really hate Natasha? If you said yes, slap yourself on the wrist. Shame on you, haha.

The pressure test is reminiscent of the souffle pressure test from last season, where each judge had the contestant make them their “favorite” souffle, except this time with chocolate. The mousse is a gimme (I personally like a whipped cream mousse better than an egg white mousse), and the lava cake and souffle have all been done before on MasterChef multiple times. So this really isn’t that unusual or particularly difficult of a pressure test, except for getting the timing of the souffle and the lava cake to finish at the same time (although if they have the use of two ovens, even that should be less of an issue).

75 minutes is actually plenty of time in my opinion. I would bang out the mousse in 15 minutes and just have it chilling in the fridge until service time. An hour to make a molten lava cake and a chocolate souffle seems like adequate time. What do you guys think?

Time is called, and all the components seem to be on the plate with no visible disasters. Krissi does not have powdered sugar on her souffle, though I’m not entirely sure if that matters. Jessie constantly mentions how she added salt to her desserts, which is an important part of any chocolate dessert. Since chocolate has many savory flavors in addition to sweet flavors, some salt really helps enhance its profile. Since chocolate and salt is such a common combination, it would greatly surprise me if Krissi didn’t add salt to her desserts as well. Krissi’s souffle isn’t as tall as Jessie’s, which could be since she took hers out of the oven earlier and had more time for it to fall.  The center inside is steaming, but Natasha and Gordon both think it’s undercooked. I’m not actually 100% sure what a “properly cooked” souffle should be like. Should it still be at all runny and pudding like in the center? Should it be firm but moist? Hot (as in enough to burn your tongue) in the center, or just warm, like a medium rare steak?

Krissi’s mousse is much airier than Jessie’s (which looks a bit more like glossy ganache than fluffy mousse). She takes this one.

Jessie’s lava cake has more of a crust, and Krissi’s looks a little soggy.

Before we even go any further, lemme point your attention to the order of the dishes they tasted. In ANY best of X competition, with X being an odd number (3 and 5 are most common), 99% of the time the producers will engineer the results to have the scores be tied with one deciding vote for the winner. Why? For drama, of course. The judges started tasting down on stage left, and then went all the way to stage right to taste the mousse before finally going back to stage middle. Why the weird jump over there? Because somehow or another, the producers knew that Krissi’s molten lava cake was inferior to Jessie’s, and if they went in order, Jessie would have a 2-0 advantage and there wouldn’t even be any point in tasting the mousse. Keep in mind that the souffle HAS to be tasted first in order for it not to fall. In these types of situations the time between cooking and tasting is very minimal (the beauty shots are rushed and only take a minute or so) so that the souffles don’t lose their height.

Joe is extremely subdued while announcing the winner, a far cry from his usual animated gesticulations and facial expressions. I (and Krissi herself) can tell that she’s going home. It’s similar to my elimination, when Gordon said “the person leaving MasterChef is… and I’m sorry to say it….Michael.” Some contestants get to form a bond with certain judges, and I (and more so Ben Starr) had that with Gordon, and Krissi this season has that bond with Joe. So occasionally, just judging by the demeanor of the judges when announcing the eliminations, you can tell who’s going home.

Of course, I am sad but thoroughly unsurprised to see Krissi go home. I have made it no secret that Krissi has been one of my favorites throughout the season, because of her boldness, fearlessness, and unashamed determination to be herself in the face of being unpopular. She’s the kind of person that I would love as a friend, because I know she’s going to give it to me straight if I ask for her opinion on something. She’s got a great sense of humor, stands up for what she believes in, and while she (as well as EVERYBODY else) has made their fair share of mistakes on the show,  I still have nothing but respect for her and for how strong she has held up to the withering barrage of insults, hate, and threats coming her way from the true bullies, those that hide behind the wall of the internet’s distance and anonymity to launch their vitriol. Though she has clearly frustrated some of her co-competitors in the past, I feel like the majority of the contestants have grown to respect her strength, even those that have been portrayed to hate her like Bri and Natasha. I really hope to meet her someday.

Follow here on Twitter and Facebook, and please, spare her the vitriol.

What do y’all think? Are you happy Krissi went home? Which three course meal would YOU have eaten? Which chocolate dessert is YOUR favorite? Let me know down below….

About Michael Chen

A contestant on season 3 of FOX's MasterChef! Tune in on June 4 and 5 at 9/8c to watch me compete in the top 100 home cooks in America!
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78 Responses to Masterchef 4 Recap: Team Mystery Box and Chocolate (S4E23)

  1. Gregory Wright says:

    I have the same exact thoughts about Krissi. I used to get bullied, blamed for things I didn’t do, underestimated and given no credit when I earned it. That can make you pretty angry. And when I finally decided enough was enough, I was cruel and bullyish before someone could do it to me. I’m over that now, but I could relate to her see that Krissi was a fish out of water shoved to the side. I love her no BS, I am what I am personality. I’m guessing she’s an amazing Mom. And I think it’s amazing that Joe could see through it and take her under his wing. She gave a really nice radio interview that lets you see her in a much fairer light. And I think she hilarious. Here’s a link to the interview for any who are interested. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/vocnationradio/2013/09/06/totallly-driven-radio

  2. Andrea says:

    Maybe I’m a sucker for single mom stories, but I always felt sorry for how she was edited. Granted, her abrasiveness may be natural, but if there is something that raising a kid on your own will teach you is never to back down or let anone manipulate you, because Krissi wasn’t doing this for herself only. She had what I’d call one of the strongest motivations ever: Her kid.

    We had Christine Corley in Season 2. We had Monti in Season 3. And I found myself rooting for them to the end (though they may not have been my favorites to win). I’ve taken to defending her (though she doesn’t really need it) in social media, because I feel sorry for those people who hate her without even wondering why they do. Are they gullible? Maybe. Are they force fed that hate and drama? Definitely. That’s the big deal with most reality shows around the world.

    I’ll refrain for discussing Jessie’s attitude, or Luca and Natasha. While it was definitely no surprising that Krissi was going to be eliminated (FOX producers, may all your bacon burn!), she is someone I admire for being true to herself. No wonder she’s the Minion Mama. She’s unstoppable.

  3. Constance says:

    Michael, what a great recap!
    When I watched this episode and heard Jessie’s words about Krissi I was shaking my head. Where did that come from? They didn’t seem to have any interaction in the episodes, never worked on a team together, so from where did the false remark about teamwork stem? In every team challenge Krissi was a team player.

    I think many who had been shunned or bullied felt a bond with Krissi. Knowing where she attended high school I can understand what she probably went through. Sometimes, when a disagreement gets too heated, it’s best to walk away in order to cool off. I’ve done it myself with difficult coworkers,

    The bond between Krissi and Joe was evident throughout the series but I also think Gordon saw a lot of himself in Krissi. Both scrappy fighters from working class backgrounds. I loved the emotions shown by both Joe and Gordon when she was eliminated.

  4. I love following blogs like Ben’s (and now, yours) because it gives the audience some insight to the fact that these shows are highly edited, spun by the producers, and often taken out of context.

    That said, and I think this will be an ‘unpopular’ statement here, I was happy to see Krissi go. It’s entirely probable to me that Jessie isn’t really as lovable as she’s been edited to seem, and maybe she’s very deserving of Krissi’s wrath. But Krissi’s comments in the interviews are (in my opinion) distasteful enough to stand on their own. I can’t imagine how context would make them any better. The comment about how she had to step out and take a break so she didn’t “go to jail tonight” was the last nail in the coffin of my open-mindedness toward Krissi. I was over her at that point. It displays a lack of emotional maturity that’s more appropriate for a drunken bar fight than a nation-wide contest for the Master Chef title.

    One more thing: I never thought Krissi’s food was that remarkable – at least not as far as the judges’ reactions would suggest. Maybe it says more about the judges’ attitudes toward her than the actual taste of her food, but am I the only one who thought there was a slightly condescending tone to many of the evaluations of her food throughout this season? In a way, I almost felt bad for Krissi because it didn’t seem like she usually got the opportunity to be judged in the same light as everyone else. Sure, she’s never been to a fancy steakhouse, and doesn’t have the financial resources to have cooked with, or even seen, many of the higher-end ingredients. I still thought it odd when the judges would respond to some of her dishes with a tone that said “Wow, I’m surprised to see such a quality dish from someone like you. Good for you, ‘A’ for Effort.” No? Maybe that’s just me.

    • Tracey says:

      I agree with you so you’re not totally alone. She was constantly threatening people with physical violence, there’s no context needed there. It was ugly and I didn’t like it.

      • Michael Chen says:

        Do you really think she had ANY intention to follow through on those threats? I HIGHLY doubt it, and to me I think it was a way for her to let out frustrations in the interviews rather than confront them in public and get into a huge fight. If an obnoxious driver cuts me off on the highway, do I sometimes feel like beating the shit out of them (and ranting to my passenger the same sentiment)? Yeah, haha. Would I ever follow through? Of course not. But of course, like I’ve said, you can judge for yourself. I’m just trying to put in context here.

        I don’t think ANYTHING that Krissi said is a thought that we haven’t felt at some point in our lives. In many cases, I might have had the exact same words going through my head. But she just has the nerve to say it all out loud on camera for the country to hear, which is definitely rude (how rude would you be if you said all of your thoughts out loud?? haha), but in a way make me respect her more for not being fake. I think a big reason so many viewers dislike Krissi is because she reminds the part of themselves they are embarrassed to admit to showing in public.

      • Greg says:

        The topic of Krissi and her behavior is a fascinating topic. While we all sense at times that we are being manipulated by the writers/production staff, at some point people are accountable for their comments and actions. Krissi lost me early on, when she went out of her way to call out Jordan for taking the immunity offered him in the pressure test, and then did the same thing without hesitation a couple of episodes later without hesitation, citing her love for her son as an excuse. God only knows if that was cut and pasted by editors to get a reaction out of me. That being said – Now that we have had 3 seasons in a row of single mom’s portrayed as having some sort of higher calling for wanting to succeed on the show, can we all take a step back and admit that all of the contestants are participating to improve their lives, as well as the lives of those nearest and dearest to them?

        It is interesting that several comments regarding Krissi in this thread speculate that she must have been the victim of bullying at some point, and that somehow whitewashes her words and actions. That is ironic, because name calling and physical threats (Krissi’s calling cards) are pretty common tactics in bullying. The fact that she did not follow through with it did not make it any less distasteful. Coming from Krissi, we profess admiration for her spunk, honesty, and being real. When similar behaviors are exhibited by the “prom queen” types, we cry foul and scream bully! I wonder whether any empathy, joy, or spite I feel in relation to the contestants is legit, or if I am some sort of puppet being manipulated by producers???!!!

        I began watching this show in hopes of being entertained while learning about cooking. Michael and Ben have provided valuable insight. Unfortunately this season has been a lesson in the unrealness of reality tv and how emotional manipulation can easily lead us into an uneven assessment of what is real and what is to be blamed on editing. The harder I work at sifting through the silliness of what is real and what is edited, the more I wonder if it is time to stop yearning for truth and treat this as entertaining fiction.

        Sorry to ramble. Thank you to Ben, Michael, and others for sharing your thoughts.

      • Couldn’t agree more, Greg. I had almost forgotten about how she chided Jordan and then did exactly the same thing. I don’t think it was too cut-and-pasted, though, because the judges even commented on the hypocrisy of her move.

        Fascinating topic, indeed.

      • Michael Chen says:

        There could have been more context in those team challenges that we don’t know that justify Krissi’s decision. More likely though, I think Krissi had an instinctive negative reaction to Jordan saving himself when he did, but when she found herself in his shoes a challenge later she realized how difficult a decision it was and realized that she was wrong to judge Jordan. She made the mistake of judging somebody without actually being in their shoes, something we are all guilty of to some degree.

      • Michael Chen says:

        Here’s the thing about bullying. You can really only bully somebody that you “have power” over, whether that’s in terms of physical strength, popularity, or some other advantage. If my little brother started yelling at me and calling me names and doing his very best to threaten me, I would find that obnoxious but hardly bullying. But turn the tables around, and if I said the exact same thing then the perception of the scenario changes dramatically.

        Similarly, when somebody is popular and “has it all” starts insulting somebody less popular, and really using her advantage in popularity to make somebody feel bad, then that is what I call bullying. If Jessie, somebody that clearly has a lot more going for her than Krissi, starts insulting her because of her weight or physical attractiveness (an area that she has a clear advantage), then that comes across as far more characteristic of bullying, than if Krissi says in an interview “I’m going to bash your face in”. That to me just comes across as blowing off steam. However, if she was making menacing threats and gesticulating with a knife, frying pan, or some other form of dangerous object at the object of her wrath directly, then that would seem more in line with bullying to me because physically, Krissi is more intimidating that the objects of her wrath.

        In summary, bullying to me is when somebody with some sort of advantage uses that advantage to try and hurt somebody else, whether that be physically, emotionally, or psychologically. A 5 year old kid that threatens to beat up at teenager is not bullying. Krissi’s comments, however brash and distasteful they may be, did not seem like bullying to me as much as her being frustrated and angry and using those words as an outlet

      • Tracey says:

        No, Michael, I don’t think she intended to follow through but that really doesn’t matter. Many times, it was said to intimidate other people. I can see from your replies here that you really want to stick up for her because you think you understand why she behaved that way. But she’s got a child at home and she’s modeling behavior for him. If he goes to school and starts threatening to punch people in the face, things won’t go so well for him. It’s not like she made threats once or twice, she did it a LOT. And while I can understand your viewpoint of where she’s coming from, I still don’t think that makes it OK.

      • Greg says:

        Michael….I think your analogy regarding bullying is appropriate and relevant if we were talking about a Junior High setting, but we are talking about 18 adults who were all put in a situation equally outside of their normal life and comfort zone. If Krissi’s words and demeanor in the vignettes with the camera are indicative of her interpersonal relationships with the rest of the cast (even at a watered down level), should we be surprised that she might be less than popular with the rest of the cast? Conversely, if she is well liked, the Krissi defense of “being the straight forward, tell you what I think to your face” character obviously is not accurate either, for that would indicate that her viciousness was on full display for the on camera interviews, but tempered when in the presence of her peers.

        Natasha has gone on record and confirmed in Ben’s blog – “I know for a fact what happened on that balcony and it was brutal to hear the words coming out of the person standing next to me” in response to Krissi’s cruelty from the balcony prior to Bime’s elimination. That certainly wasn’t “blowing off steam”. It was mean and spiteful behavior…..period. If you do not want to call it bullying, fine. It was no less vicious. If Krissi was trying to win friends and influence people, she went about it all wrong. If she was intent on getting as much airtime as possible and wanted to make sure everybody knew she was tough, didn’t care, and had no filter, than she accomplished her mission.
        There are consequences for that type of behavior though, and no one should be surprised that most folks found it crass.

        I suspect Krissi is much nicer than she is being portrayed, and Jessie likely is not as perfect as she was being portrayed up till this most recent episode. However, the content that the show producers are no doubt playing with was ultimately provided by the contestants, and after over a dozen episodes, is it a stretch to make some determinations regarding these folks from the overall body of work? As slick as the editing may be, the producers could not have edited Jessie into Krissi’s role or vice versa – even if the show was broadcast over the radio only. The producers are no doubt firing the guns, but Krissi is supplying ammunition by the truckload. Maybe it is time we stopped making excuses for her behavior and acknowledged her key role in the war effort.

        I sense I might be beating a dead horse, so let me shift gears for a second. Michael – you mentioned your love for calamari recently, a dish I enjoy thoroughly too. Regarding using an aggressively seasoned seasoned flour as opposed to cornmeal – I have typically had better results in my home kitchen with flour. Should I be treating the cornmeal battered calamari differently as far as the frying technique is concerned?

        Thank you again for providing this forum for us all to share our two cents!

      • steve says:

        Here’s the thing about bullying. You can really only bully somebody that you “have power” over, whether that’s in terms of physical strength, popularity, or some other advantage.

        Michael, you’re spot on about bullying. I don’t think Krissi really intended to bully the people around her. In fact in think in a way Krissi felt insecure around some of those people and in some ways at times felt like she was the bullied one. However, I DO think that some of her behavior could understandably be perceived as attempted bullying, especially given that she’s bigger than the people she was directing the comments towards. This just applies to the comments she made to people directly, not the stuff in the debriefs. Which brings me to Tracey’s comment…

        No, Michael, I don’t think she intended to follow through but that really doesn’t matter. Many times, it was said to intimidate other people.

        A lot of the comments people have problems with are said to the interviewer after the fact, and cannot have been intended to intimidate anyone. For example, the oddly controversial comment about going to prison, which was very clearly hyperbole. It was intended to indicate just how frustrated she felt. No way was she seriously declaring to a national tv audience that she was literally about to murder someone.

        The comments made directly to people could be seen as threatening (and as I acknowledge above, it’s not good for a larger person to threaten a smaller person, precisely because it can be intimidating). But then she made the comments in front of a number of people, including the production staff, and in front of cameras. So again, it was all talk. People have described her comments as ‘empty threats’ both on the show and here in this blog commentary. You can’t have it both ways; they’re either genuinely intimidating, or empty bravado.

        I’m not ‘whitewashing’ or giving her a free pass. Some of her comments are ill-advised to say the least, and she’s definitely been bitchy to people at times. But I don’t buy the idea that she was a serious bully, and I think the reaction to her has been out of proportion.

      • Michael Chen says:

        You think like I do. Thanks for sharing!

    • Michael Chen says:

      Hey Cynthia,

      I appreciate you for commenting in such a neutral and level headed manner. I know that somebody with her brashness and that doesn’t operate without a filter can get on people’s nerves, and there’s no shame in admitting that. I personally found that jail statement extremely amusing, and give her credit for the fact that she didn’t blow up and fight right there but had the ability to exercise some self control. She was frustrated, angry, and had to blow of steam somehow and used a rant in the interview to do it. Better than actually hurting somebody (In a previous season, one contestant actually attempted murder. Long story).

      But yeah, Krissi is a strong cook but not as elegant or as refined as the other cooks. She epitomizes a home cook to me, in a way similar to Christine (who specializes in making comfort food, and not so much “fancy food”). Will she ever work in a Michelin starred restaurant? Hell no. But do I want to eat the food that she puts out? (for the most part,) Hell yes!

      • Many thanks for the thorough reply, Michael. Also, thanks for the detailed recap – I forgot that earlier.

        I think what your reply makes me realize is that you and I see these people from completely different perspectives. To me, the contestants (and even you) aren’t really like “real” people, in a way. They’re more akin to celebrities actually. And we all know celebrities make great decisions, right? ;) That probably sounds ridiculous to you, as someone who’s been in the competition and can quite easily put yourself in the contestants’ shoes. I’m not in a great position to judge anyone’s behavior until I’ve been in a similar situation, and I’ve not.

        You made a fantastic point about what we’ve all done, thought, or said to a few close friends. But that’s the thing – on the very rare occasion when my temper gets to the boiling point, I like to think I would hold the threats of physical violence for off-camera venting if I happened to be on a nationally televised show. I’d be personally embarrassed for anyone I knew who behaved that way in such a public forum.

        The show is obviously “steered” by the producers (we all seem to agree on this to various degrees), but I’d still like to believe there is some prestige behind the title of Master Chef. In order for me to keep believing that, I have to be rooting for people to win who don’t display a season’s worth of inability to get along with others.

        Thanks for letting us use your blog as a public forum to talk about this. The topic really has me thinking today.

      • Michael Chen says:

        Haha, that is a good point. The first thing I do when “fans” meet me is to tell them to stop viewing me as a celebrity (I’m not), and start seeing me as a normal person that just got lucky (unlucky?) enough to be on reality TV. People are just people. Miley Cyrus is a person, Justin Bieber is a person, Ben Starr is a person, I am a person, we are all people that have thoughts and emotions, that make many mistakes in our livesa and try to learn from them.

        The thing with being on reality TV is that you HAVE no friends to vent to when you are frustrated and angry (and reality TV will make you more frustrated and angry than anything you have ever faced in your life with few exceptions). You can’t call up your friends and rant about them. You could talk to your fellow contestants, but oftentimes that will just make things worse. So people tend to let it all out in the interview room, where they have some semblance of artificial “privacy”. Just you, your interviewer (who is usually REALLY nice), and a camera guy. It almost feels like therapy, in a way, and can lull you into a false sense of security to just let your emotions loose. In addition, the producers have been known to feed the contestants alcohol (“Here’s some wine and beer, enjoy!” *imbibes to the point of no inhibition*) and then lead them straight into an interview to get them to spill the beans more easily. Christine was the victim of that several times. In several of her interviews, she was flat out shit-faced and couldn’t stop laughing at herself when she finally “saw” them on TV.

        I’m sorry though, there is very little “prestige” in the title of MasterChef. Probably about as much “prestige” as there is in being crowned prom queen or king. Actually, come to think of it, that is a very apt example. Hmm….

      • Stephen says:

        Thanks for the link to the radio interview. From that, I assumed that Krissi was/is a popular and well-liked in her neighbourhood. No mention of her being bullied at school or she would have mentioned this.
        However, I do think that when she had to leave behind her comfort zone (as per interview), and meet, live and work with a group of people (the other contestants, staff, judges) that were from different backgrounds from her, and even spoke different, she freaked out and lashed out as a protective shield. Her chorus “I am being real” or “I am not a fake” actually revealed that she thought the others were ‘not real’ and ‘being fake’. The problem was that she already pre-judged this about the other contestants before she actually worked with any of them.
        By the way, I used to pre-judge the good-looking and privileged folks. Until one day, one of them shared that he could not help how he talked and presented himself (son of one of the country’s top obstetricians)- he also enjoyed good food and wine- because he was brought up that way.

        How do we know that Jessie, Natasha etc were not bullied and shunned during their formative years?

      • Michael Chen says:

        I don’t think her saying she is well liked in her neighborhood is any indication of her childhood. I am very well liked now (I would hope), but I was definitely bullied pretty hard growing up. Whether I mention that in an interview depends entirely on whether that is relevant to the topic of conversation. I think it’s unwise to draw such harsh conclusions from it.

        In all honesty, I think a lot of the contestants weren’t “real”. Few people are as “real” or straightforward as Krissi was. And you get to know your fellow contestants EXTREMELY well throughout the course of a reality TV show, even a week in. There are definitely a few people in my season that I don’t think were “real”. And with the progression the show is taking, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were even more contestants like that this season.

        I have no idea what you are trying to say in the paragraph where you say you used to judge the good-looking and priveleged folks.

        And it’s entirely possible that Jessie and Natasha faced some bullying and shunning in their formative years. Everybody does, to some degree. That point isn’t really relevant though. We are really grabbing at thin air though, because I haven’t met ANY of the season 4 contestants, so I am making assumptions just like all of you guys are. What I DO know is that I shouldn’t take what the show throws me as truth without thoroughly analyzing it first. I believe in assuming the best in people until proven otherwise, and it has helped me be much happier now than I was a few years ago. I don’t dislike ANYBODY on the show. I don’t dislike anybody that I haven’t actually met in real life. The only reason I stand up for Krissi is because I see how caught up people get in the drama of reality TV and the hate so many contestants are spewing her way. THAT is bullying.

  5. Mike Sheets says:

    Thank you for filling in for Ben, you’re doing a great job! Can you shed some light on recipes being used for baking pressure tests. Thanks again.

    • Michael Chen says:

      There’s just a basic recipe hidden in the drawer that you can pull open and look at.

      • MaryAnn says:

        No! Really? I knew there were cooking lessons and things during the week but I had no idea a printed recipe was right there! I figured these people just crammed all night to learn how to make all these recipes since we never see books or anything.

        I love your recap, you did a great job and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you making it so I can still have my recap fix while Ben is Burnin’! Not sure what I’d have done without you :-)

      • Michael Chen says:

        I try my best! It’s going to be SEVERAL days before I can get part two out though, unfortunately. I have to wake up in less than six hours for my flight to new york!!

      • Doug Moel says:

        Hello!

        Are you really allowed to mention that there are recipes hidden in the drawer?

        I ask because I (and probably everyone who watches) was curious about how all the contestants were able to cook from memory. Other blogs (Ben’s at least) seemed to be careful about not revealing specific details about the U.S. version of Masterchef. Usually the other blogs give hints and point out how Masterchef in other countries does things, leaving the reader to infer that the U.S. version is probably similar.

        Thanks!

      • Michael Chen says:

        Let’s just put it this way: if I get asked to remove the comment I will. I’m barely a blip on the radar in the eyes of MasterChef, so I doubt that they will care. But I like to be open and honest about stuff as much as possible, unless I’m coerced into stopping.

  6. Andi says:

    Michael did you not watch the final 4 on Ben’s season that pitted Christian & Suzi vs Adrien & Jennifer or season 3 (your season) where Josh & Frank faced off with Christine and Becky……..this format for a final 4 is not as new as you seem to make it out to be………………and I agree Joe is overly dramatic but Graham is a true diva of the drawn out dramatic flair lol

    • Michael Chen says:

      Yes, the final 4 go head to head but that is always in a team challenge, not a mystery box. I don’t think it’s been done for a mystery box challenge. It’s not really a big deal, but just something I noticed, since field challenges are almost always team challenges while mystery boxes are supposed to be individual.

  7. buzmeg says:

    Great job, Michael.

  8. GingerSnap says:

    We all like to rationalize someone else’s behavior based on our own experiences. I can’t say I agree with you on Krissi’s behavior because we are ALWAYS responsible for our reactions and how we treat other people. So I don’t accept that she’s totally guiltless in what we saw. The camera doesn’t lie. But I do think they had behavioral psychologists around who knew what they were dealing with (an explosive personality disorder) and took care to manipulate her in just the right way to pull out her dark side. When it came time for her elimination, they used some pretty sophisticated techniques to prevent the explosive side of her personality from coming to the surface. But the thing that irritates me the most is that the show is just such a fraud to begin with, and some pretty nice people are having their hopes and dreams toyed with for the financial betterment of FOX and the show’s producers. As well as the men who were hired to be judges.

    • Michael Chen says:

      Everybody has their faults, even Krissi, but I know that her faults are not as dramatic as the camera would make it seem. Again, I point to how friendly Bri and Natasha are with her off camera. She is most certainly not guiltless by any means, and people that know me (and even Ben) know that we have our deep faults as well. But I take a step back, look at the whole picture, and ultimately, I like Krissi. People are free to disagree, and I appreciate how you and a few of the other commenters are doing so in such a respectful way rather than just blasting her as a “fat bitch” or whatever.

      • GingerSnap says:

        Well,I can relate more to Krissi than I can to Jessie, but I’m quite a bit older than you. Life has taught me that you get back what you put out and what I see is a 34 year old woman who lacks insight into her behavior. And doesn’t get that she can choose to behave differently, even if it’s difficult.

        Remember that she has a son and there was or is a father somewhere. Chances are she has exploded at the son when she’s felt frustrated. Which makes me concerned. for his well-being. Whatever her relationship with the father is,,being unable to control your anger is going to hurt things more than help.

        The truth is you and Ben have kind hearts which speaks highly of both of you. I appreciate your insight into the behind the scenes workings of the show, which only confirms what careful observation of the way the show is edited supports.

        What I hope is that each of you who are or were participants in the show have gained enough experience from Graham and Gordon and any of the other cooking professionals associated with the show to make it worth it. Which most of you seem to think because you have moved on. Except Josh. Which is a shame because he was a likeable young man..

      • Michael Chen says:

        I think you are walking a DANGEROUS line if you are trying to make the assumption that Krissi has abused her son. I have yet to see an instance where Krissi has completely lost her temper. If anything, in the very first team challenge, Natasha completely losing it when Beth said the cauliflower was disgusting is the closest thing to losing a temper this season. I have yet to see any evidence that Krissi actually physically threatened anybody on the show. Yes, she felt insulted when Jessie insinuated that she couldn’t cook anything, but she did what was right in that situation to calm herself down (take a few moments, breathe, cool off for a bit, and get back to work). I think Krissi has actually shown tremendous restraint in not losing her temper or causing huge fights in front of the other contestants for the most part, and waiting until she is alone in the room with the interviewers before venting her frustrations and anger. I don’t even know if I would have the self control to do that if I were in her shoes.

        But seriously, insinuating that she has explosive anger issues and abuses her son because of it is really quite an offensive assumption if Krissi were ever to read this. Throughout the season, and on social media as well, her interactions with her son have been filled with nothing but heartfelt motherly love (tough love as it may be sometimes). I strongly urge you to reconsider that statement.

        The key to succeeding after MasterChef is to take what you have learned and move on from it. Both Ben and I have done that. I no longer bring up MasterChef in any of my conversations unless it gets brought up first. Ben has made an effort to distance his underground restaurant, Frank. from MasterChef as well. The appeal of the MasterChef brand usually wears off within a few months. Josh was doing well, but apparently his mental illness took a toll. I wish him the best.

    • GingerSnap says:

      You know, I’m not interested in dissecting Krissi. Her role in the show became tiresome at the end. As well as the role that Bri played. The show should be about cooking and not drama which it is not. I don’t like any of the manipulation that comes with being on the show, whether they are doing it to Luca or Jessie or Natasha or James. OR, in seasons past to people like Josh and Christine and Christian from season 2. You all went into it with open hearts, and they took advantage of you. This is probably my last seaon watching MasterChef because I just can’t stand the drama anymore, and I have no respect for the people running things. I think there are better shows out there that give me some insight into high level cooking without all the drama.

  9. Thank you for the recap! Those episodes seemed particularly manufactured. Since I took a step back and thought about the extent of manipulation involved in this show, I’ve become sympathetic for Krissi and her family and cherish the moments where it seems like ‘reality’ actually comes out–like the relationship between Joe and Krissi.

    As I mentioned in Ben’s blog (and admittedly I am pretty much in love with Ben) I feel like this may be the last season I watch. It has become too much. And I am saddened by that, because I love learning about cooking!

    Thanks again for the post and I look forward to more! Side note–my sister and I are cooking a chocolate lava cake for the finale, any tips or recipe you particularly like?

  10. bobby927 says:

    Based on what I’ve read regarding the editing manipulation and taking sound bites out of context then using them to portray varying personality traits that we the viewers are supposed to digest as fact, leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. I consider this being scammed. Using a sports metaphor as comparison would only lead me to believe that “the fix was in.” That being said, after I watch next week’s “scripted Luca win” I’ll be removing MC from my DVR schedule as I don’t appreciate being conned.

    Thanks for all the insight Michael (and Ben) as you’ve opened my eyes to the reality of Reality Television.

    • Michael Chen says:

      Yes, it does feel a bit like you’ve been manipulated. I don’t like having my emotions played with, and that seems to be all reality TV does, both to the contestants and the viewers.

  11. Deborah says:

    I’m glad you mentioned the flatness of the plating for Luca and Natasha’s main course. That really struck me as a weird visual. As you said, char some beet greens for a green and red element. Give the meat its own section, show the parsnips in all their creamy whiteness contrasting the rose and green. I love lamb, beets, and parsnips and it just really didn’t look appealing.

  12. Calvin says:

    I feel as though I may be the only one to think this, but I can almost swear I heard Natasha’s line “we don’t care for each other one bit” before in another episode. Of course, you said you didn’t really keep up with the earlier episodes, but just an interesting thing that I noticed.

    • Constance says:

      There may have been respect between Natasha and Krissi but I doubt there was affection. Krissi mentioned in that radio interview that she thought Natasha was the best cook but also stated on Twitter that she is not friendly with Natasha or Jessie. Luca also said he didn’t like Natasha and, when the two of them are standing together on the balcony after this last team challenge, he said, “Now I hate you again.” He was laughing though.

      • Michael Chen says:

        Affection is a funny thing. The only person on my season that I really have “affection” for is Christine, but I do care for just about all of the other contestants and respect them greatly. Whenever we try to make assumptions, we are grasping at straws here. The only way to know for sure is to hang out with Krissi and actually talk to her about it, and hopefully I will have the chance to do that sooner rather than later.

    • Michael Chen says:

      it’s VERY possible they took the same line and used it twice.

  13. snugglesmar says:

    Three things:
    1) Hooray for Michael’s excellent substitute recaps!
    2) Of course Luca exaggerates…he’s Italian (I lived there and am pretty sure they enroll the children in exaggeration classes at birth.) ;)
    3) While Krissi & Company were all definitely edited, Krissi is little immature and/or naive when it comes to understanding “think, then speak”. I don’t believe she meant any harm, but she obviously hasn’t had much experience outside of her part of the country and just doesn’t understand that her phrases can have a completely different interpretation. I’m sure she can become a bit more tempered over the years without losing her spunk.

    • Michael Chen says:

      Hahaha! Enrolling in exaggeration classes at birth….love it!!

      I think it’s the culture of the northeast. Christian Collins from season 2 was the exact same way, and they also edited him to seem like an arrogant villain and that earned him a lot of hate as well.

  14. rain says:

    Something else to consider about Krissi and Jessie’s edit: Jessie claimed in a tweet that Krissi made a death threat against her. Knowing the crap Krissi has thrown out this season, I think it was a “leave me alone or I’m going to kill you” kind of thing. Nothing she’d really follow through on, because Krissi is a bully full of empty threats. Still, beyond the pale, something the editors apparently thought was so bad they couldn’t air it. Jessie’s “cow” comments came after that, she says. That’s pretty mild name-calling against someone who has threatened you with physical violence.

    There’s no indication that Krissi herself has ever been bullied. Don’t fall into that trap. If we don’t know the real her, we don’t know that she was bullied. All I’ve seen are indicators that she’s the instigator. Remember how she boasted early on about how Bri reminded her of the girls she used to beat up? Bah. Stop defending Krissi. She’s not a victim, she’s the bully who pounds on others repeatedly, then whimpers and cries bloody murder when someone punches back. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t have some admirable qualities and that people might be able to get along with her despite her out-of-control anger, but she ain’t no victim anyone needs to feel sorry for.

    • Constance says:

      Rain, I don’t know Krissi personally but I know the area where she grew up and the town where she went to high school. I recognized in her someone who had probably gone through the wringer in school. High schools are full of cliques, suburban high schools more so. If someone transfers to a new school and they are a bit different in background/appearance/etc from the majority of the student body chances are they won’t be accepted. If one doesn’t wear the right clothes, have the same interests, even speak the same, the new student may be shunned or made fun of or insulted.
      I spent my entire life in the same town but attended Catholic school for 8 years. I transferred to the public high school in 9th grade. I knew none of my fellow students. Almost every other student had gone through the public elementary school together, they all knew one another. Me being fat and not having the “right” clothes was a reason for many of the students to ignore me, talk about me behind my back or be rude to my face.
      People handle this treatment in different ways. Some turn inwards and suffer. Others, like Krissi, fight back verbally or physically. Me, I just decided to fly my hippie flag (it was the late 60s, early 70s), ignored the bullies and befriended the other outcasts.

      While I respect your opinion I would ask that you don’t buy into the role the producers/editors cast Krissi in or, at least, take what you saw with a grain of salt. She has said the some of the contestants weren’t pleasant to her in the beginning. There have also been comments from others who were there for auditions that some of those who made it into the MC kitchen were rather nasty. Who knows the truth? We don’t know what happened when the cameras weren’t rolling or what the producers/editors decided to leave on the cutting room floor. But I think Krissi has been pilloried quite enough.

      • rain says:

        Krissi acts awful on her twitter feed outside the show; presumably the producers don’t have any control over her words there. They certainly didn’t have any control over her pre-MasterChef twitter feed that she deleted after journalists in Philadelphia found she enjoyed posting racist jokes.

        Sympathize with her if you want, but assumptions and hypotheses matter much less to me than her actual demonstrated actions outside the show. I’m sorry you had a bad experience in high school. That sucks, you didn’t deserve that. But you and I don’t know if Krissi was treated badly in high school or not. We don’t even know if she was overweight then. The only evidence we have is what she tells us and how she acts, which is that she beat people up then and hates all sorts of people now and wants to punch them in the face. If that’s true, then she would have been one of the people unfairly picking on others, not one of the people being picked on.

      • Michael Chen says:

        Rain, it seems like for the most part you have your mind made up, and I really shouldn’t even be addressing this especially at 2:30 am when I have a flight to catch at 7 am tomorrow. But I just want to encourage you one last time to never take things at face value, to refrain from judging people until you have at least met them, lest you learn a lesson the hard way like Krissi did when she judged Jordan and then realized that the judgement was unfair once she was put in the exact same situation.

        I focus on the good in people, not the bad. If you don’t think that way, then you of course are free to live life as you wish. We may respectfully disagree on the topic of whether Krissi is an awful person or not. I wish you peace.

      • Michael Chen says:

        Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks so much, Constance!

    • Michael Chen says:

      Do you know how many MULTITUDES of death threats have been made against HER an even her SON? The lengths that people go is WAY out of line. And I highly question the notion that the producers didn’t show Krissi’s “death threat” because it was too severe for reality TV.

      And if you want to see what my thoughts are on bullying, read one of my other comments to Greg. I don’t see Krissi as a bully because she does not have any power or “advantages” over any of the contestants to make her words that damaging or hurtful. Again, if she had physically threatened them face to face wielding a frying pan, that would have been different. But all of the “controversial” statements that she has given have been in interviews, which comes across to me not as bullying but as being frustrated and angry and blowing off steam.

      And we have already established that Bri and Krissi are good FRIENDS outside of the show. Bri went to Krissi’s house for a barbecue not too long ago. So don’t try to use that one quote (which was probably said either sarcastically or in an attempt to be funny) to justify a belief that Krissi hates nerdy white girls. Haha

      Again, I don’t KNOW Krissi, and I won’t claim to “know” her until I meet her in person someday. But too many people are going way out of line in how much they are abusing her on social media, and I am just doing my best to give everybody a reality check and help y’all realize that you need to not take what you see on a silly show like MasterChef so seriously. Treat it like a completely scripted TV soap opera, because it really isn’t that far from that.

      • rain says:

        Death threats against Krissi and her son are awful. Nobody deserves that. Anybody who would do that is a horrible person.

      • dumlaut says:

        To address the whole “bully” thing: I think Krissi’s power comes from the fact that she is physically more intimidating than most of the people she threatened. I believe she could easily take on Bri or Jessie. That is why I read her threats and insults as “bully” behavior. That and the fact that she said she beat girls up in high school. As someone who was bullied in high school, I didn’t sympathize with her from that angle. I am also under the impression that Krissi and Bri are friends -now-, and that they in fact did have to bury the hatchet. That is the implication I got from an interview Bri gave. But it I definitely think Krissi is being bullied by the fanbase now, in horrendous ways, which is not okay.

        Also, I was shocked when Jessie called her a cow; she had avoided stooping to that level right until that episode. I understand why it happened: getting the heavy end of Krissi’s hatred after both had been snippy and being left without a partner for at least 20 minutes (that’s the amount of time Graham said Krissi was gone for in an interview) seems to have pushed her over the edge. I was surprised she kept it together for that challenge. But I was appalled by the things she said, even so.

        So yes, I think Krissi acted poorly, and I think she certainly may have displayed “bully” behavior, but I think the fanbase is guilty of bullying her right back and the editing did her no favors, and I think Jessie was mean-spirited in her anger and said ugly things, things she definitely should not have said, and she’s likewise being attacked by the fanbase. Basically, this is a high-stress competition and I don’t know anything about these people, so I don’t think we should judge either of them too much. They both seem talented and I know we don’t know all of what happened in that kitchen so I feel for them both.

  15. Gayle says:

    Michael, I just finished reading the long blog and comments. Rather than respond to various recipe adjustments you suggest, I’ll limit this to the Krissi issue. Regardless of her upbringing, etc., she is someone who simply cannot control herself in a mature way. I never thought she’d win MC for two reasons: (1) the producers would not want her representing the brand, and (2) in all direct frankness, her cooking was very, very ordinary. She lacked the skills necessary to take her recipes to the next level. I think it was Joe who (early on) called her dish a Blue Plate Special and that’s how they all looked to me. Great for Sunday dinner with Gran but not nearly enough for a MC competition. Notice that Joe only invited her to dinner with him and his mom; he didn’t offer her a scholarship or job, as so many of the other contestants are offered. That’s because they don’t trust her ability to rise to the cream of the cooking crop. The judges placated her on her exit to lessen the blow but she’ll always be a good home cook, end of story. I wasn’t influenced by her “victim” persona; if she’s not happy with how people treat her, she needs to look in the mirror to see what she should change.

    • Michael Chen says:

      I COMPLETELY agree with you on the two reasons that she wouldn’t win MC. She’s not a refined cook, and admits as much. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Krissi say that she is the strongest cook in the competition. She does however, always promise to put up a good fight. And she is definitely not marketable. Even if they showed only her good side on the show the vast majority of America judges by appearance and she does not have the attractiveness the be a highly marketable winner.

      Yes, her dishes were really quite ordinary. But think back to Christine from my season. The vast majority of the dishes that she made were very ordinary, comfort food dishes. Fried chicken. Vermicelli noodles. Soups, Braised pork belly. Green papaya salad. Virtually none of the food that she made would really qualify as “fancy food”. And yet, she won the title.

      I think you are making the mistake that a lot of viewers make, which is reading way too closely into the happenings of a highly scripted reality TV show. Joe not offering her a job could be for a variety of reasons, the most likely being that the people in the control room didn’t direct him to offer her a job. I didn’t get offered a job when I was eliminated, and I am one of the most successful contestants post-MasterChef in history. Ben didn’t get offered a job either, and even if he did get offered a job he NEVER would have wanted to cook in a restaurant kitchen (I suspect Krissi is the same way). Nobody has ever been offered a true scholarship (Tracy’s “scholarship” in season two was an enormous sham that Ben can talk about). I have no doubt in my mind that Krissi would be an absolute FAILURE in a professional kitchen. She would not be afraid to admit that as well. I’m not trying to defend her cooking skills here. They are clearly nowhere near the level of somebody like Natasha, whom Krissi has called the strongest cook in the competition.

      I’ve already driven this point into the ground, but read through my previous comments and you can see why in my opinion , Krissi has actually exercised more self control than I would be able to say for myself in the same situation.

      What you are saying in the end amounts to telling a kid that is bullied in school that the problem is with her, not the bullies. Too many people on social media are taking this witch hunt way too far. Have you SEEN some of them?

      I think I need to make a whole post on how we as people need to learn to not be so quick to judge other people before really getting to know them.

      • Hmmm…I’ve written numerous articles concerning the problem of “bullying” but in an academic environment. You’ve read into my comment a different conclusion, unfortunately. Krissi may have been bullied but she’s now an adult and responsible for not repeating the very thing that she hated as a child. And as far as judging people prematurely is concerned: when a person signs up for a TV program (or writes a blog or becomes the most successful post-production cook in MC history, etc), there is an element of acceptance that not everyone will agree with them. If that acceptance is missing and someone feels “bullied”, perhaps they should look in the mirror first.

      • Michael Chen says:

        Few people realize just how much signing up for a TV show will affect them. I certainly didn’t, and I wasn’t even shown that much on TV. Nobody signs up for a TV show expecting to be hated by millions of people.

        I am particularly sensitive to the topic of bullying, and ALWAYS call it out if i see if and there is anything I can do to stop it. That’s the whole reason I’m even investing any time into this subject, to call out the people that are using twitter and facebook as their cyberbullying playground. I stood up for Christine when a season 4 contestant called her a bitch. Hell, I even stand up for the pigeons in the park when I see a little kid abusing them. Ultimately, I just don’t see Krissi’a actions as bullying. I can’t imagine any of her co-competitors on the show feeling the same helpless frustration and shame that I felt when I was bullied in school just because she got mad and halfheartedly threatened to flatten my face with a frying pan.

        Tell me this. Who is she “bullying”? Bri? Jessie? Natasha? Who is the recipient of her supposed “bullying” behavior? Now go to that person’s twitter, facebook, or email if you have it and ask them directly: do they feel bullied or genuinely threatened by Krissi? I would hazard a guess to say absolutely not. But then again, I can’t speak for them directly. If you do get an answer from them, I would be glad to hear it.

        FYI, I do not feel bullied right now in defending my views on this subject, if that is what you were implying through your parenthetical quotes. In this case, the power is entirely in my hands. Now, if I as the administrator of this blog would use my power to ban certain comments, or even worse, edit certain comments to make it appear as if everybody was in agreement with me, then that might be bullying, which when you think about it really boils down to an abuse of power.

  16. Constance says:

    One reason I was in Krissi’s corner was how similar she is to my favorite niece. Both grew up in South Philadelphia, both are single parents, both are passionate about food (my niece has worked in the restaurant industry most of her life both in front of the house and as a line cook). Bullies went after my niece in school. She refused to back down. She fought for herself and continues to fight for herself to this day. Bullies don’t go after their victims just because they’re fat, nerdy, gay, etc. My niece is a beautiful, petite blond so there was probably jealousy involved.

    As for Krissi not being offered a job by the judges, she has stated that she has no interest in working in a professional kitchen and the producers/judges were aware of this.

    • rain says:

      Working in a pro kitchen is hard and doesn’t pay well, in most cases. I would think most home cooks wouldn’t want such a job. I’d rather cook really great food for friends and family. I’d assume the same for many if the people on the show.

      Some of the contestants like Bri, Luca, and James obviously want to work in the industry. Good for them, but that shouldn’t be the focus of this show. Maybe they need another competition, like “Who wants to be America’s Next Top Line Cook?”

      Oh, right. We already have that. It’s called “Hell’s Kitchen.”

      • Constance says:

        Lol, where’s the like button?
        I’m with you Rain. While it’s nice to go out to eat there’s nothing better than a delicious meal served in the comfort of the home.
        Cooking in a professional kitchen is grueling, stressful and there’s a lot of rampant sexism. Just as I wonder why people would apply to be on MC, I wonder why people would want to work in a restaurant.

  17. rain says:

    Funny how the people who are “keeping it real” are always those with the most odious behavior. I think Michael and Ben’s optimistic viewpoint and friendly behavior is just as “real” as anything any loudmouth jerk would spew.

    Judging Krissi for her behavior on the show works both ways. Why should any of us assume that because fellow competitors applaud her on the way out that they actually like her? Why not assume they are being polite, or, worse, being told to applaud? Or was that applause for something else?

    If we can’t believe anything we’re shown, then we can’t believe anything we’re shown.

    I find Krissi to be unlikable. I don’t care if she’s not going to follow through on her threats or not. Her racist non-MC tweets and intimidation tactics are unpleasant to me. I’d rather give the benefit of the doubt to someone like Bri, who presents herself just as “real” by being a pleasant, slightly geeky theater kid who likes food and can prepare it well. The fact that she can get along in some fashion with Krissi outside the show despite Krissi’s behavior tells me that Bri’s more forgiving of that crap than I would be.

  18. snugglesmar says:

    Some big assumptions are being made here that maybe we should clarify.
    –We don’t know if Krissi was bullied in school or was a bully. Or neither…her comment about beating up girls could have been pure hyperbole.
    –Krissi’s weight, while a problem for the MC producers (ironic misogyny considering Graham’s size) is likely NOT a problem for her in her home town. That area faces an obesity epidemic. A quick google search found many scary stats about Pennsylvania and Philadelphia in particular. Food Fit Philly states that over 900,000 adults and 150,000 kids there are obese, and the norm is now to be obese not at a healthy weight. (PR hint to Krissi…you could do a lot to change your image by addressing this issue with a health and cooking program.)
    –None of us know Krissi’s ability to parent, good or bad. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, especially with someone you see only on TV.

    All any of us really know is what she posts on Twitter (and even that isn’t a window to someone’s soul). It’s ok to like or not to like her edited persona; just know that you don’t know the real her OR anyone else on reality TV. Just like we don’t really know each other on here in the comments. She’s not my favorite (the way she pronounces “cook” makes me cringe), but none of us, including Michael, really know her.

  19. rain says:

    A comment on cooking (finally!)…if MasterChef is about finding the best home cook, why does the show put so much emphasis on “restaurant-quality” dishes? And why so many challenges working in a restaurant environment?

    I know, it’s about creating conflict and seeing how people cook in an unfamiliar environment, but man, is that so not about home cooking. Great for Hell’s Kitchen, but not MC, imo.

    I also would like to have all the contestants cook with the same ingredients in elimination challenges. The advantage should be not having to cook and selecting what all contestants get to use, not picking fior individuals. Tells me again that this show is more and more about “reality” and gamesmanship than it is about finding the best cook.

  20. Evan M says:

    I think Gordan had Krissi pegged. She has this brash straight-talking get-in-your-face schtick, but then when she’s in a team situation and someone does or says something she doesn’t like, she goes passive, rolls over and takes it, and then erupts over it later. Gee, it’s almost as if she wants the drama. When Jessie was turning down her ideas, she could have handled it more tactfully, but at the same time, if Krissi had asserted herself then and asked Jessie to give her ideas more consideration, chances are Jessie would have done so.

  21. Michael Chen says:

    I am on vacation now, and I don’t think I can add anything else to this discussion on Krissi that I have not already said. Thank you all for being so courteous and genuinely trying to engage discussion for the most part. Y’all are free to continue discussing this topic among yourselves, as long as the discussion remains civil, but I have no further comment on this subject for the time being.

  22. Steve says:

    Some general observations, While I have zero inside knowledge, I’ve been saying for some time now on Ben Starr’s blog that MC producers will be angling for a male winner this year. I did predict early on that that would likely be Lynn, but obviously I got that part wrong!

    So once James was eliminated there was no doubt to me the winner would be Luca. We’ll see in a few days.

    As for krissi being “far from the self-centered impossible to work with deadweight that Jessie is making her seem like”, I think you’re right. In addition to the examples you gave, she worked well with Bri’s team that episode out in the countryside where they had to cook with few resources.

    As for the swearing, maybe it’s your age, but for most people over about 30 “fuck” is definitely considered a more taboo swear word than “bastard” or even “bitch”, and “damn” and “hell” are barely even swear words anymore.

    • Michael Chen says:

      Mmm, perhaps. I never understood why some people got so offended at certain words but are okay with their euphemistic versions. Why is “crap” okay but “shit” taboo? Or “frick/freak” vs “fuck”? Or “heck” vs “hell”, “darn” vs “damn”, etc. It seems overly legalistic and self-righteous for somebody to condemn a person for saying one version over the other, when the sentiment and the intended meaning/expression is the same.

      • Constance says:

        I don/t get it either Michael. There are many more offensive words, especially slurs regarding race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc. People take umbrage at the most minor things when there are so many more important issues in the world. One thing I’ve noticed, in general, is the F bomb seems to get dropped a lot by very well educated people, men especially. I remember a conversation with a doctor friend who said fuck often. When I asked why he used it so much he said why use a bunch of other words when fuck fits the bill so well.

      • steve says:

        I don’t get it either, on a strictly logical level. But the fact is, for whatever historical sociological/psychological reasons, some words are perceived as more taboo than others, and ‘fuck’ is broadly considered more taboo than ‘bitch’ and ‘bastard’ these days, especially on mainstream network TV. Even Ben Starr will edit some words and not others on his blog comments sometimes. Although he apparently does this because his nieces and nephews might be reading, it shows an awareness of these perceived boundaries.

    • rain says:

      I thought Jordan was being set up to be the male winner, then blip, he was gone.

      Was Krissi ever on a winning team? I can’t remember one. She was on a lot of elimination challenges. She did good on the camping challenge, making quail egg pasta, but they lost that challenge and Bri went home on the eclair elimination challenge. Krissi didn’t have to participate in that elimination challenge because of her pasta. Overall, I’d say Krissi did not have a great record in team challenges.

      As for the final, I think it’s a tossup between Natasha and Luca. Natasha is probably the better cook with a wider range. Luca’s very good at what he already knows how to cook, but has had some trouble going outside his comfort zone. I assume the final challenge is a “cook a three-course meal of anything you want,” so Luca will probably pick things that he feels comfortable with.

      • I seem to remember in one episode that someone mentioned that Luca spent a lot of time pouring over cook books, studying, and trying to expand his range. I would be happy with either one, but I’m rooting for team Natasha and suspending belief for two more hours. I am looking forward to it!

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