MasterChef Recap: Season 4, Episodes 5 & 6

Oh, the best laid plans. I thought for SURE I was done with doing the recaps… but I went and told my fellow “contestants”. Peer pressure!

So, I’ll continue doing the recaps for now. A bit of a disclaimer:

I like to keep things positive on this blog…. but I also like to keep things real. MasterChef was a big part of my life this year – 6 months, full time.. and then some! – but I don’t have a ton of positive things to say about it, aside from all of the awesome friends I made. If I can’t be positive, at least I can be honest… and honestly, there is a good chance that my recaps will devolve into “Joe is a moron. The end” by the finale. Hey, the show wanted me for my lack of filter, right? LOL!

So… If you’re adverse to negativity and drama, you may wanna skip my recaps of a trashy reality show that treated my friends like crap! 🙂

Ok. Here we go.

As the show starts, I have two thoughts, and both are about Krissi Biasiello.

1. WHO is Krissi gonna fight tonight?

2. I’m starting to hate Krissi a little because she’s one of those *PRETTY* chunky chicks. Makes pasty, puffy, blotchy me a bit jealous. I won’t hate her too much, though: She may BE one of those pretty ones, but she don’t routinely bleat about it. LOL!

This episode features the first team challenge of the year. Much like with the display of lamb on the previous set of episodes, I feel a bit of a twinge. Though I don’t usually play well with others, it would have been cool to be able to do a team challenge. I am SUCH a logistics freak… but I guess things going smoothly don’t make for good TV. LOL!

Anyway.

Opening montage of the contestants on a bus, driving through LA. Gotta say, I do NOT miss being driven through LA.

Joe’s shoes look so stupid with his suit and overall demeanor.

The contestants are told they’re cooking lunch for over 300 elementary kids. They have 1:45 to cook it, and 90 minutes to serve.

Ramsay is doing his faux Shatner thing again. Is this supposed to be suspenseful or dramatic or something? I know I’m not Fox’s target market for ANYTHING, much less reality TV, but… bleh.

Jordan and Jessie are team captains this week, and alternate picking their teams. (and I’m SO glad I got to avoid the rehash of always getting picked last in school, LOL!)

As they are picking, I notice once again that every one of the women have their long hair down. Where this is preparing food for the public, I really hope they’re made to wear hair nets. You’d think food prep regulations would apply at this point, right?

Hrm, apparently not.

Right away, Jessie’s Red Team is talking about how kids don’t want green vegetables, so they choose corn. Sigh.

First off, I hate that the show is encouraging and/or perpetuating BS about kids hating veggies. Kids hate veggies when they’re told to hate veggies. Maybe stop all the crap about “Oooh, they’re picking GREEN BEANS, the kids will HATE THAT!”, and kids will love green veggies like normal human beings.

My favorite veggie as a kid was Brussels Sprouts. Never had anyone filling my head with “Not supposed to like that!” nonsense.

Secondly, corn is a grain… NOT a vegetable. (And hey, shameless plug here… my newest cookbook, Sweet Corn Spectacular comes out in just 3 weeks! Preorder now!)

They decide on Chicken Teriyaki.

The Blue Team goes for spaghetti and meatballs.

Gordon starts carrying on about how Chicken Teriyaki is a bad choice, because it’s brown and kids will hate it. Joey Coattails agrees, saying that between spag and meatballs, and chicken Teriyaki “no doubt in his mind, he’s going for the spaghetti and meatballs”.

Well, duh. Joey doesn’t go for anything that’s not Italian.

Also, let’s be serious. If your kids turn up their nose at chicken teriyaki, odds are good that you’re either a bad cook, or a bad parent as it relates to food.

Joe and Graham go to the red team and tell them that they’re cooking the chicken wrong.

I’m really distracted by everyone’s hair down. Gordon and Graham are chefs, and Joey Coattails owns restaurants. I’m blown away that NONE of them put their foot down and have the contestants practice proper food prep hygiene. Guess I know a few restaurants I won’t be eating at… ew.

So the kids go running and screaming at the competitors.

The announcer mentions that the teams have 1 hour to serve. What happened to the 90 minutes mentioned earlier? Does Fox think that there are 90 minutes in an hour now? (I wouldn’t be surprised…)

Lots of footage of the kids giving opinions of the food.

Man, this episode could be soooo suspenseful if the show hadn’t spoilered the winners way back even before the cast list was announced. What genius decided to show challenge results coverage?

Having seen the Red Team victorious in that commercial, I find all of the crap about chicken teriyaki is WAY over the top. There is not subtlty or nuance in reality TV, huh? “They’re going to lose! They’re going to lose! OMG THEY WON WHO SAW THAT COMING!?”. Lame.

Graham refers to corn as a veggie. Sigh.

The last kid who walks through the red team’s table is subjected to waving and whooping… poor kid.

Footage of the blue team talking about who’s going home.

Jordan’s given the opportunity to “save” three people from the pressure test. He saves Howard and James, is told that he can save himself for the third option. So… he does. Of course.

I hate it when team captains do this. From what is shown, it’s his “leadership” and lack of logistics that ended them up there. Krissi declares it to be a “bitch move”, and I agree. Competitions should have more sportsmanship and honour… even if it’s a “competition”, in quotes! 🙂

So, the 6 remaining people have to make cheesecake.

They have only 90 minutes to make, bake, chill, AND garnish a cheesecake. Ridiculous.

Gordon declares that the CRUST is the secret to a great cheesecake, saying that “when your base is solid, your mixture is solid”.

Um. WTF?

Dear Gordo… your cheesecake batter is completely separate from your crust. Your crust has no real influence on how cohesive your batter is, I have NO idea what the hell you’re getting on with…

Also, the real key to a successful cheesecake is to take your time mixing it GENTLY, and cook it at a low temperature for a long time. Period. You know… something that they don’t actually allow the contestants enough time for!

Adriana is cooking mango cubes and guava paste together, ingredients from the “limited pantry” provided to top the cheesecakes.

After some footage of drama, the judges start talking condescendingly about how Adriana “just used canned guava paste… come on!”.

Given that they’d shown her cooking a topping of mangoes AND guava paste, I’m not sure how they justify the “just” in there. Also, guava paste is a specialty item. A delicacy! What is it even doing in the “limited” pantry, if they’re going to carry on like she’s slathering her cheesecake in Velveeta?

… also, seriously, they apparently let Howard get an apron on a canned peach cobbler. Guava paste > canned peaches.

Joe’s thoughts on cheesecake – especially given the parameters of competition – are BEYOND stupid. “DDDUUUUUHHHH I’m from New York, I expect cheesecake to be 6″ tall, even though we don’t give you the TIME for it”. Dumbass.

Judging:

They like Krissi’s cake, after the peanut gallery trashes her (including what seems to be a snotty comment on her weight, from Jordan).

John presents an interesting looking pineapple cake. Joe uses his fingers to shove a piece in his maw (It’s cheesecake, you neanderthal. Use a damn fork!), then makes some weird comments about how the pineapple topping is a *contrasting* texture for the cheesecake, and he doesn’t like that.

Joe, you ignorant slut.

What are you even doing “judging” a cooking show? ALL decent cooking features contrasts of all types, including texture. The whole POINT of cheesecake topping is to provide a stark contrast to the cheesecake itself – in color, texture, acidity, sweetness, etc. Moron.

Kathy presents a cheesecake with a berry compote, nails it.

Eddie makes a vanilla bean cheesecake with mixed berry compote. Judges give him some flak about not draining his compote first, but overall they like it.

Savannah made a salted caramel cheesecake that doesn’t look like a cheesecake. It looks GOOD, but just not like cheesecake.

The judges rip on Adriana’s guava cheesecake with mango and coconut – which looks INSANE, btw … I would eat the shit out of that! – Gordo starts carrying on about canned guava paste again.

Adriana goes home. Ridiculous.

Ok, on to the second episode of the night.

Mystery Box Challenge time. Contestants are told that someone will be cooking alongside them, blah blah. It’s Ramsay, who goes on to showboat and drink tea for half the challenge. Meh.

The contestants have cod… oooh I love cod. Anyway, they have a bunch of Asian ingredients with it.

JESSIE TIES HER HAIR BACK!

Well, sort of. A ponytail is a start.

Ramsay goes and has a tea, etc, before BIG DRAMA starts cooking, and then all the focus is on what he’s doing. Description about what he’s doing, etc. Forget the contestants.

One thing I dislike about this show is that it’s all basically a circle jerk for the judges. MasterChef Australia, for example, is WAY more about the competitors.

Joey Coattails seriously made fun of Gordo’s regionally appropriate pronunciation of “basil”. EXPRESSO, Joey!

Gordo’s dish is presented with a great flourish, and Joey invites the contestants to taste “how a real Master Chef does it”.

“Master Chef” is actually a professional designation, attained through a specific accredited program and intensive testing. There are very few actual Master Chefs in the world (Pretty sure it’s under 100!). I can’t find any reference anywhere to Gordon Ramsay ACTUALLY being a Master Chef.

Hrm.. I wonder if I can just adopt “Doctor” as a label. I mean, because training and earning a professional designation apparently means nothing anymore. “Doctor Overlord Marie”? “Overlord Doctor Marie”? Which works better? And where do I fit in “Czar of Cakes” with that? LOL!

Howard apparently plated raw fish. I don’t even get why he’s still in the competition. Nothing he’s made so far has stood out in any positive sense, and nothing he’s done gives any indication that he knows how to cook at ALL. I mean.. AT ALL…

… and, aside from the odd snark at Krissi, he’s not really there as a big personality player.

I have to wonder if all of the behind-the-scenes drama he had going with another contestant is going to end up coming out as a plot point. I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to that (Schadenfreude!), or dreading it. The show will step into irreparable trashiness if they go there…

Anyway.

The contestants all present their meals.

It’s almost too bad that Lynn Chyi is so reserved and drama free on the show. He gets like NO face time, and all his food looks *beyond* gorgeous.

Wouldn’t it be great if the show focused on the FOOD, rather than the judges and/or BS drama?

Luca wins the challenge, is given the choice between decorated cookies, cupcakes, and ca… WAIT A MINUTE. Are they using a freaking FUNFETTI CAKE as the demonstration?

WHY YES I THINK THEY ARE.

FunFetti

… Why would you DO that? I mean, I get throwing together a box mix in the interest of saving a few minutes for something that likely won’t be eaten, but why wouldn’t they use a plain flavor, not easily-identifiable FUNFETTI.

Man, they really are going for trashy this year!

(Note: I don’t judge people who like Funfetti. We all have guilty pleasures… but this is GORDON RAMSAY presenting the cake on a “competition” show!)

Luca picks cupcakes. I am bored.

He’s also given the advantage of handicapping one of the others for the challenge.

Luca takes Jordan’s mixer, as punishment for his earlier bitch move. I’ll admit, he’s kind of adorable about it.

I can’t believe how much drama is being forced over Jordan not having a mixer to work with. What a bunch of wusses we’ve become. All KINDS of cakes and pastries were made LONG before stand mixers (or electricity, for that matter) were even invented.

Gordon gives Kathy some hassle over her putting stuff on the bottom of her cupcakes. “Why complicate them?” he asks. “Why not?” is her answer. I like it!

Graham makes some comment about how Bethy has flour and sugar “all over her face”. If he honestly thinks that having flour on her face is somehow indicative of not knowing cupcakes, he’s never been in a bakery… and DEFINITELY never been around a baking competition.

Luca is called downstairs.

Howard is first to present. Says he has “Tahitian Vanilla Bean Cupcake”… except that there’s no bean, he just used extract. Um…?

So guava paste is bad, but calling cupcakes “vanilla bean cupcakes” when only using EXTRACT is Ok? Oh boy…

No mention is made of the fact this his cupcakes look like crap, and have barely any frosting on them. There is a MINIMUM frosting to cake ratio that should be attained, he missed it by a mile.

Malcolm’s cupcakes looked delicious until they were cut into. Also, one of these years, MasterChef will cast people who know how to pronounce “Mascarpone cheese”.

Bime’s cupcakes pretty good, decent frosting ratio.

I’m laughing at Joey Coattails being so offended at Kathy putting stuff on the bottom of her cupcakes.

For someone who is “SOOOOOO NYC!”, I’m shocked that he doesn’t seem to realize that what Kathy did is actually quite popular, even trendy. I mean, NYC is pretty much the cupcake capital of the WORLD. You’d think a food “expert” would be familiar with such cupcakes.

Bethy made three types of cupcakes, including Bananas Foster, Raspberry Lime, and an Almond Chocolate cupcake with Hazelnut Liqueur.

You know I love me some Bananas Foster cake… (and I have recipes for a few variations in both Evil Cake Overlord and The Spirited Baker!)

Anyway, her cupcakes look really good!

Jessie’s cupcakes look good, if small and irregular.

Jordan presents his cupcakes, which look good. He says “marscarpone”. LOL. Top home cooks in America!

Luca is invited to taste Jordan’s cupcakes, and he looks SO excited. He takes a bite, loves it. Seriously, he looks like someone needs to hand him a towel.

He asks if he can keep it, which is adorable for about a second… then my husband yells “HE IS PROBABLY STARVING!” right next to me.

Good point!

Looooong drawn out “deliberation” and elimination drama.

Bime and Bethy are selected as the two winners / team captains for next episode.

Malcolm goes home.

Done!

18 thoughts on “MasterChef Recap: Season 4, Episodes 5 & 6

  1. Are you watching the show “American Baking Competition”? I really like it – the judges actually treat the contestants with respect and dignity, which is such a refreshing change. What a shame it isn’t doing well in the ratings. I have several friends who are hooked on it (including myself!).

    Roberta

  2. Thank you for writing these reviews, Marie. I hope you’re able to continue bringing us your own perspective on this show.

    Karen

  3. 1. Your reviews of MasterChef sound like sour grapes
    2. You’re a food snob and you have no reason to be one
    3. I’ve seen your cakes and they look a lot like every other average “cake artist”.. not bad, just not great. Give them a 16-inch pastry bag and a box of tips and suddenly everyone’s a “cake artist”

  4. Don’tchya just love it when someone goes out of their way to be hateful? To me, it’s a glaring sign that they are supremely unfulfilled and unhappy.

  5. Please elaborate what is a “good reason” for being a food snob?

    I love Marie’s recaps and her insight into the show.

    And really, you’re offended? For what? …Joey, is that you?!

  6. I just wanted to tell you what a fantastic and funny writer you are! I find your reviews interesting, helpful, and extremely humourous . I really hope that you will continue to write more. And although it is 1 in the morning here in England, I really wish I was eating one of your scrumptious cakes right this very instant!

  7. I agree with you entirely about the hair issue. Even when tied back an occasional stray hair escapes (Hell’s Kitchen).

  8. Something tells me that you really, really, really don’t like Joe. Just some sense. I mean, it is all understated and between the lines and stuff. But really, seems like you might not like Joe much. Just figured I would make that observation……

    On a more serious note, I guess, I would like to know a little more details about the contestants not being fed, or harassed. I saw the comments about someone being too sweet for the show, and felt like kicking the judges, but out right actual sexual harassment? It could be worth a pretty penny if they can prove it……….. I can imagine contestants getting seriously depressed after the show for a lot of different reasons, but again, actual harassment is a different story.

    1. Hi Malene, thanks for commenting.

      Joe’s an idiot who knows nothing about anything. It bothers me to no end that he’s in a position to belittle and bully (at a minimum!), with no real cred besides “Mommy is famous, used her money and other peoples’ names to start restaurants”. Ramsay may be a jerk, but at least he’s a self made jerk with actual cooking cred!

      As for the harassment… here’s a nasty “Can’t sue the show for any reason whatsoever” clause in the contract. Between that, and the fact that they never actually AIR any of the worst of it, the show can pretty much do whatever they want. :/

      1. Well, there are laws against sexual harassment, and no contract can make you sign away your inherent rights protected by the laws. But of course it depends how far the harassment goes. If it is one or two uncomfortable piggish comments – then yeah, not much that can be done about that. Sexual harassment frequently goes way beyond that though. Suggestions such as giving sexual favors to judges, or ongoing, sexual focus on one contestant would be completely against the law, and can be dealt with in the courts, no matter what the contracts say. I would say look up a lawyer with a specialty in sexual harassment and talk to them.

        I am curious, is the show supposed to be feeding you while you are there? Or, are you responsible for feeding yourself? Again, there are labor laws that assures that you at least get the time to eat. In this case, you wouldn’t even have to sue the show, just file with the right government agency, they investigate and take steps on your behalf. You can’t sign away those rights.

        I am just curious, I have known for a long time some of the stuff that producers do to create the “drama”. What is rather interesting btw is that food and sleep deprivation are two tricks that the most destructive cults often use to gain and keep control over their members. I have heard about reality shows using those dirty little tricks too, although I didnt think it was routine. There are no laws against it, but there should be. It is torture, and it undermines people’s ability to think clear headed. BTW isolating members is another cult mind control trick of the trade. So is efforts to control what members read or say.

        The big difference here of course is that the reality show eventually allows people to go back to their real lives. With distance, food, sleep and access to loved ones to help processing what happened people who doesn’t have too much of a traumatic past should be able to gain their feet under them again fairly quickly. The problem is with those who do have trauma in their past, this type experience can majorly screw with their heads.

        1. Oh, I realize this… but it’s really up to those it happened to, to do anything about it. I had issues with the lack of food and water, but didn’t experience the sexual harassment or assault myself.

          I agree that there should be laws against the psychological torture – and I agree that they use a lot of the same tactics as cults do. That was one of my early realizations when I got home, and it really cast a weird shadow on the whole experience for me.

          Another interesting thing to note: A past season contestant contacted me, and mentioned that their season cast had a rate of childhood abuse survivors MANY times over the national rate… and that, looking back, the psychology test questions we went through early in the process were likely SPECIFICALLY seeking such people out. I know for a fact that my own season also has many times more than the national rate, and that really sickens me. “The problem is with those who do have trauma in their past, this type experience can majorly screw with their heads.”, indeed!

          The thing I don’t understand is this. We were told that these were actual psychologists. I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of the ethics involved with a psychologist license, but it seems to me that being involved with targeting / victimizing people in this way would/should be against their code/regulations. Do they not have to swear to non-Maleficence, or some version of the Hippocratic oath? I have no idea.

  9. Ok, so I typed up a whole long reply, but I dont see it ever appearing.

    Psychologists and therapists do not swear an oath to do no harm. Their legal and ethical obligations are to be honest about their role in your life. If they tell you that they are not there to be your therapist or to help you, but there on behalf of the show, then they have done their duty. People often make the assumption that people with the training of psychologist or therapist cares about others, but that is not always a true assumption.

    There are labor laws in California that specifies that they must give you time and access to eat. They might not have to feed you, but they must give you time off and a way to access food. I would contact the California Labor board. While you are speaking with them, I would also mention the lack of sleep and malicious waking you in the middle of the night. I am less certain what the rules are about that, but I think there might be some rules. A complaint with the California Labor Board would be investigated and represented by their legal team. It wouldnt cost you a dime, and you cannot sign away your right to file such a complaint.

    For those specifically who were subjected to sexual harassment I would highly recommend finding a California lawyer with a specialty in sexual harassment cases. This is a sub-specialty so I wouldn’t take the word of someone without expertise in this area though.

    When it comes to the high number of people with a sexual abuse past, it is interesting, but I can imagine a LOT of different reasons for that. One thing is, that we do not have an actual number of the percentages of people who were sexually abused due to how under-reported it is. Legal numbers says about 1 in 4 people, but there is broad agreement that this is not the actual number.

    Here are some other thoughts. On TV we definitely have a group that at the very least has accepted to be out in the open. They just might be a little more open about it than the general population. Let’s say that the general population have a 50% history of having been through sexual abuse, but due to general hesitancy to talk about it only half of that is officially acknowledged. Then you get a group of people willing to go on tv, you might see 50% of them talking about sexual abuse, but that might be a true number for the rest of the population. The only difference is that the people on tv are more prone to be out in the open.

    Sexual abuse survivors also often have confused boundaries. This both mean that they might be more open about it, even on tv. It also means that they might be more prone to accept the abuse dished out by the network. Where someone with more clear boundaries is probably more likely to say “hell no, that’s enough” a lot faster.

    Finally, it is of course not at all unlikely that the network even screen for this as these people have confused boundaries and might be easier to manipulate. As cruel and abusive as that is in it’s own right. Those psychologists are pure trash humans of course, if that is what they do.

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