“Together in a tightly-packed dozen we stand, but divided, we fall. When JFK took his trip to Germany and said, ‘Ich bein ein Berliner,’ he thought he was saying, ‘I am a citizen of Berlin.’ In fact, what he said was ‘I am a doughnut,’ because a Berliner is a type of doughnut. Many people have thought this was a social gaffe, but now, I’m not so sure. I think JFK was a doughnut, like we’re all doughnuts…”
—Ace’s quest for the Hole-y Grail, 1999
“Everything on that plate needs to have a reason,” Chef Gordon Ramsay tells the competitors midway through tonight’s episode of MasterChef. What everyone is wondering at that point is: whose dish will he spit out tonight?
Episode 4 opens with Chef Ramsay announcing that Gordon (“little Gordon”) got sick and left the competition. (Spoiler Alerts: Season 5, Episode 4′s winners and losers will be announced in this post.)
The remaining 18 cheftestants get started with the mystery box: nets filled with live seafood (crab, lobster, clams, oysters, scallops, prawns, mussels, etc). Maybe “a little too fresh” for some of the competitors, like Kira, who squeals, and later admits to never having worked with live seafood.
Joe Bastianich tells them, “there’s nothing more important for a chef than to know how to work with live seafood.” (Nothing?)
Christian gets to work immediately on shrimp and grits. Francis B is preparing a “profound” fish stock. Ahran, at 18, the youngest competitor on MasterChef, tells the judges that even though they’re favoring Courtney, she is unimpressed.
The first standout dish belong to Francis B, spicy seafood broth with seared scallops. His father used to live in Morocco and his Mom in Italy, and his dish incorporates elements of both (blue crab tossed in tandoori; shellfish cooked down in sake). Ramsay tells him, “normally I’d call this fusion confusion but this is fusion at its best.” Bastianich says he’s put together “Morocco meets Rome on a plate,” and tells him that he’s “firing on all cylinders.”
Ahran’s spicy seafood stew with jasmine rice is the second dish, with different harmonies adding up to “a seafood boy band.” Chef Ramsay tells her (in the cringe felt round the world by women chefs everywhere), “underneath that little sweetie pie look you can cook.”
Christian’s BBQ shrimp with cheese grits are pronounced both homey and punchy, and Bastianich tells him the dish “really tells the story of where you’re from.” It’s “New Orleans on a plate.”
Ahran takes the win. She does not have to compete in the elimination challenge, and she is allowed to select which of the three options the contestants will have to prepare next. For the second week in a row, the elimination challenge is sweet, not savory. Faced with the choice of muffins, cookies, and donuts, she selects the one with the highest degree of technical difficulty: donuts. Everyone must hand craft a box of a dozen donuts. Again, she confesses to the judges that she is hoping to toss Courtney out of the competition (“maybe because I go to high school and I deal with a lot of fake bitches all the time.”)
The editing reflects her wish as Courtney forgets the eggs; has to start over; and is out of yeast. None of her competitors want to share (no yeast for you!)… the drama… until Francis L tosses her a spare pack. Francis B is immediately in the weeds; his donuts don’t rise and he improvises with sad-looking donut holes. Kira leaves out the shortening. Leslie is over the moon with his creations (“I am a donut,” he mutters).
Daniel is proclaimed “a beast with the sugar and yeast.” Leslie has produced a “box of Malibu sunshine.” Christine’s flavors are there, but her donuts looked like she sat on them. Victoria’s were uniform and simple. Kira and Cutter both announced filled donuts that then had no filling. Ahran is allowed one more perk for her earlier win, and she opts to save Francis B to accompany her to the balcony and be exempt from elimination. Courtney has accidentally spilled salt into her batter, thus winning the distinction of providing the dish Chef Ramsay spits out in tonight’s competition.
The bottom three are Cutter, Kira, and Courtney. The top two are Leslie’s box of sunshine and Francis L’s prosciutto-topped Guinness and maple donut (“long live Scotland,” Chef Ramsay tells him). Leslie takes the win, and both earn spots as team captains in next week’s competition.
Although Cutter and Courtney are strong contenders for the worst of the evening, Kira is sent home for her donut that Bastianich announces is “more like a kaiser role than a donut.”
MasterChef airs on Fox on Mondays; check local listings, and tune in here for future recaps.
MasterChef Season 5, 2014 Recaps