One hundred one firefighters? Oh my! This week's MasterChef team challenge has Bethy and Bime as captains. Each team must prepare a New York strip steak complete with a sauce and two sides for the American heroes.
When it comes down to the final two selections, Bethy chooses Krissi for her blue team, leaving Kathy to Bime's red team by default. I remember what it was like to be left last team pick, but like Kathy says, "we'd rather be underdogs and exceed expectations than fall short." But Krissi ends up on Bime's team anyway, because Bethy is given the opportunity to trade, and she takes Eddie. Clearly, the blue team is viewed as the stronger of the two. But sometimes too many strong cooks in the kitchen can lead to numerous arguments—everyone will have something to say. Will the blue team be able to stay cohesive for victory's sake?
The red team serves a reduction sauce, sautéed mushrooms, and a cauliflower purée with their steak. Meanwhile, the blue team chooses peppers and potatoes as their sides but can't decide between a chimichurri or balsamic sauce. This is their first mistake; as Gordon Ramsay always says, why waste time making too many sauces? Just make one stunning sauce!
It could be anybody's game. While I love sautéed mushrooms—their earthy flavors complement proteins well—I'm not too crazy about cauliflower purée. Yes, it's a good substitute for carbohydrates, but it's hard to get the texture just right as cauliflower can often end up watery or grainy. Regarding the blue team's menu, potatoes are solid, but their indecisiveness about the sauce could cost them a win.
Blue team ends up nixing (or, as they say in restaurant speak, 86-ing) the balsamic idea, and perhaps this seals their victory with 68 to 33 votes.
Then we get a glimpse of the ladies on the red team having a meltdown, which manifests in a hurl of mean words. I understand their frustration in their loss, but it's important to remain a team, even to the end.
In the next day's pressure test, Bime is automatically given a pass by the judges. He gets to save one more person, and he saves Jordan. The remaining six have to make Eggs Benedict, which will largely come down to their hollandaise and egg poaching skills. Bri and Krissi (despite her starting her hollandaise over with just one egg) have the best Eggs Benedict, leaving Luca, Kathy, Natasha, and Beth still standing before the judges. And then comes the twist. All four homecooks are told to pack their bags and...wait for it...go to Gordon Ramsay's BurGR in Vegas where they will compete in two teams to make the best burger. Luca and Kathy become the red team, and, of course, Natasha and Beth, who were yelling at each other in the previous challenge, naturally get matched on the blue team. As team leaders, Beth makes the call on serving a burger topped with goat cheese, crispy prosciutto, and arugula; while Luca foregoes the cheese for simple caramelized onions and arugula. I personally love the caramelized onions and would add mushrooms, but I would not leave off cheese. (You can find a recipe for such a burger in my new cookbook, Recipes from My Home Kitchen.) But because this is Vegas, and in Vegas, everything is over the top, I would serve a burger with aioli, gruyere, arugula, and a slice of seared foie gras.
During the last service push, Luca makes a smart strategic move and lines up burgers on the pass, sending the blue team scrambling to assemble their burgers since there is only a 60-second window to have both teams' burgers at the pass window for expediting. Natasha and Beth are clearly flustered, and they miss some orders which will cost them votes.
But in the end, it's Luca and Kathy that lose, and they go into yet another pressure test head-to-head. Poor Luca and Kathy—they've ended up on the bottom for the past three challenges.
Luca and Kathy are given 45 minutes to make a butter poached lobster. The competition is close, and Luca ekes by with a win for his beautiful but slightly undercooked lobster. And Kathy leaves the MasterChef dream behind in a heartfelt goodbye. Good luck to Kathy and her future culinary endeavors.
What would you have served with your strip steak? How would you have dressed your burger?
Tune in to FOX next Wednesday at 8/7c for another MasterChef adventure.
-Christine Ha, follow me on Twitter @TheBlindCook