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.
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….