TV: MasterChef Season 5, episode 2 recap

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Party in Chef Ramsay’s mouth everybody!

DanWu_GordonRamsey_MasterChef_Season5“For the 22 that remain, it’s only the beginning,” on tonight’s episode of MasterChef. Last week on the season 5 premiere of MasterChef, 22 cheftestants earned an apron and a chance to compete for the title of MasterChef 2014. (Spoiler Alerts: Season 5, Episode 2′s winners and losers will be announced in this post.)

Tonight, the competition began in earnest with the first mystery box challenge. It contained chocolate, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, brandy, lady fingers, extracts, honey, and coffee. The challenge was perfectly straightforward: 90 minutes to prepare one dish. No anchovies were tossed into the basket, a la Chopped.

Texas Willie is thrilled. He loves desserts, selecting a spicy gingerbread cake for his offering. Back home in Texas he lives with 13 people and food is how they come together. He is not just the “cook of the family,” he is the only one who cooks. (Even his “Auntie, all she can do is boil water.”) He has “a lot of people riding on me succeeding.”

Jaimee, 23, a bakery assistant in Queens, makes a chocolate pecan brownie. She is confident that this challenge plays to her dedication  -  a dedication confirmed when she demonstrates her commitment, revealing a KitchenAid mixer tattooed on her upper thigh.

Cutter, a former search and rescue swimmer, goes for pudding with biscotti.

Astrid is “nervous,” about her lemon bars.

Elizabeth makes a strawberry balsamic cake with a honey mascarpone icing. When Chef Ramsay asks her who’ll wash out tonight, she fingers Leslie, whose workstation is in front of hers. She IDs him as all talk, and when he trash talks back to her, “You #$*@* live in Malibu,” is her response, later telling the camera “obviously your #$*&@ wife works… and you don’t.”

“You want drama, I’ll give it to you,” he mutters.

Cutter, who thought he’d knocked it out of the park with his cappuccino pudding and biscotti, and Astrid, are brought up as the two losers. “It doesn’t even look like a dessert,” Ramsay tells him, while Joe Bastianich defines biscotti for him. “Roger that,” Cutter responds to Ramsay, appearing a bit dazed and mystified. Willie and Courtney are brought up as contenders for the best dish win. But it’s Astrid who’s ultimately sent packing for her raw lemon tart. “Take your apron off and leave the MasterChef kitchen.” Astrid owns the loss, “Maybe I should’ve read some more recipes and practiced baking because that is my weakness.”

Courtney, the aerial dancer, takes the mystery box win over Willie, with her honey cake (even though Ramsay describes Willie’s dessert as “a party in my mouth.”) For her reward, she is allowed to not only sit out the next round, but also to choose the dish her competitors must cook, and select which 11 (half the field) will compete in the meatloaf round.

Dan Wu says, “these are the top ten; we’re the strongest competitors and that’s exactly why she left us down here to cook.” Courtney, mixing her metaphors again (after “planting a seed and waiting for the bomb to go off”), says she’s the “puppet master —I’m holding all the other competitors in my hand and I’m going to play them like chess pieces.” Evil giggle. “Checkmate.”

Dan says, “I don’t need Courtney to save me. A lot of people see me as a food snob and I wholeheartedly embrace it. Snobbery just means I’ve had better; I expect better; and I will make better.”

He gets to work prepping his Southern Asian fusion take on meatloaf: ground veal with pork and short ribs with a quick kimchi of brussels sprouts and bok choi.”

Francis prepares a burrata-stuffed mealoaf using short rib and lamb, with bok choy and oyster mushroom caps over a romesco sauce.” Ramsay characterizes it as a “BOLD move” that works, while Bastianich says he is “playing the game at a high level.”

Stephani’s herbed lamb meatloaf with couscous and bleu cheese might not sound like a pleasant flavor profile, a suspicion confirmed when Ramsay spits out his first taste. “There’s no way I can swallow that.”

Dan glances over at Whitney’s Caribbean meatloaf with lemongrass and soy sauce, proclaiming it “pretty pedestrian,” while Chef Ramsay tells her “I can’t think of anything worse to go in  meatloaf.” He characterizes her efforts as “TV dinner turned into TV disaster,” adding insult to injury with “my apologies…to the meatloaf.”

Christine skirts criticism with her veal and pork meatloaf topped with a fried egg and basil fennel pesto, earning a good flavors seal of approval and the mild suggestion that the egg might not be needed.

Jordan also garners only mild criticism from Ramsay, “you’re the youngest guy, and tonight, I think it shows.”

Tatted Daniel earns high praise from Bastianich for his lamb and ground beef meatloaf served over sweet potato mash, who says, “I like everything about this dish.”

Willie’s dish, pork with beef meatloaf with mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts, earns accolades for its spot-on seasoning. Ramsay tells him he is “a strong contender.”

Dan Wu is “feeling pretty confident” as he presents his dish, only to be shot down by Ramsey who proclaims it “absolutely disgusting,” adding, “that is one of the worst meatloafs I’ve ever eaten.”  He accuses Dan of “humiliating that meatloaf,” advising him that he’d gotten too cocky for his own good.

Wu tells the camera, “When Chef Ramsay says your food is disgusting, it’s the worst thing you can hear. It’s absolutely devastating.”

The bottom three are identified as Stephani, Dan, and Whitney, with Whitney being sent home, with dreams of saving up enough money to finish culinary school.

Francis takes the evening’s best dish prize and an advantage for next week’s competition for his burrata-stuffed meatloaf.

MasterChef airs on Fox; check local listings, and tune in here for future recaps. In Lexington, you can join the MasterChef viewing crowds at Blue Stallion Brewing.



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