This is the toughest MasterChef team challenge yet. The remaining eight contestants have to spend the night in the woods and, the next day, cook a restaurant quality meal using rustic, camping-grade equipment: one knife, a flint for starting fire, an iron skillet, and a single wooden spoon. Say what?
Bri and Natasha are team captains, and Bri selects James for her first pick, followed by Eddie and Luca. Natasha's team consists of Jordan, Jessie, and Krissi (whose abhorrence for Bri resurfaces in her sound bites).
But wait—there's a twist (always a twist). The judges switch the team captains, and so Bri ends up leading Jordan, Jessie, and her not-so-favorite Krissi, while Natasha is now the head of James, Eddie, and Luca. Bri's blue team chooses rabbit for their main protein, leaving Natasha's red team to work with pigeon — two animals that are commonly found in the wild (as deemed by the judges).
I've never worked with pigeon before, nor have I eaten it. The first thing I'd do is cook off a pigeon to learn its flavor profile and texture before conceptualizing a dish. Rabbit I've made a couple of times — it's a lean meat that, to me, emits a ever-so-slight grassy odor. It's great braised.
The blue team decides on a braised rabbit ragout served over sautéed wild mushrooms and — of all things — pasta! Making pasta out in the wilderness with wine bottles and quail eggs is a brave (stupid?) move, but I've got to give them credit for thinking outside the box. After all, the judges say resourcefulness is key in this challenge.
The red team decides to slow roast their pigeon over a fire pit and serve it with honey-glazed carrots and a wild mushroom farro. Both dishes sound amazing. Now it's about execution and final flavor. Since the blue team started the braise late on their rabbit, they shred the meat partway through cooking. And at the end, Bri encounters a colossal accident when she spills the plated dish. What a nightmare.
Regardless of the skeletal kitchen equipment and less-than-familiar proteins, both teams receive high praises from the judges. And for the first time during this season of MasterChef, like a parent fawning over their children, I am quite proud of every contestant. Everyone was able to set aside their differences and work together in this undesirable environment to put out two stellar dishes.
Unfortunately, there can only be one winning team. And the title goes to the red team for their pigeon. So Natasha, James, Eddie, and Luca are safe in the gallery. But before the pressure test begins, they are tasked to select one person on the blue team to whom they will offer immunity. Should they pick someone they know they can beat later? Or do they preserve the competition's integrity and pick someone they truly believe is the strongest cook?
The immunity is given to Krissi, which leaves Bri, Jessie, and Jordan in the pressure test: six éclairs in sixty minutes. The judges are looking for six consistently beautiful éclairs with chocolate icing on top and Chantilly cream piped through the center.
Nobody's éclairs are perfect, but Bri had the worst of the bunch, and she is sent home. We've recently begun seeing a lot more of Bri, and she's definitely grown beyond her vegetarianism in this competition. And in a rare tender moment of farewell, Bri wishes Krissi luck, and Krissi even says she'll come visit. No matter how badly I wanted to stay in the competition last season, saying goodbye to another cook is always difficult. We spend virtually all of our waking hours with these people, and even when we fight and think we can't stand another minute with them, having to see someone's MasterChef dream end was always heartbreaking.
It's down to the lucky seven. What'd you think of this week's wilderness challenge? Do you think Krissi should've been given the pass? Did Bri deserved to go home? Don't forget to tune in next week's MasterChef at 9/8c on FOX for another gargantuan mystery box. Who'll be under it this time?