Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Love Masterchef! Episode 1 Recap

MasterChef Review
   I love Masterchef!  It is an addiction I know!  Last night I was excited to watch the premiere of season 4.  Mr. Love From Scratch was away at work, so my cute little dog, Chloe and I had some snuggle time as we watched what appears to be the beginning of a very interesting season.  The first episode I always find intriguing, I love the back story on the contestants.  The evil side of me also loves to watch the train wrecks that choose to try out, and I can’t help but wonder, what were they thinking? 

     I took lots of notes on this episode, and so I have lots of thoughts about the season and the contestants we’ll be watching.  Let start with the first contestant, Natasha, she is good looking and knows it, mentioning it a few different times in just a few minutes, not that there is anything wrong with it, I just don’t understand why she mentioned it so much, it just seems irrelevant to me, but oh well.  I guess pretty girls have it hard in the cooking world, she gives the impression that people are always underestimating her.  I am not sure about her character yet, part of me wonders if she is being set up as some sort of villainess for the season or what.  Not much was mentioned about her cooking background or passion for cooking, but we can see she is a pretty girl, and we can tell that she thinks she’s beautiful too.  Not sure about her, don’t dislike her, but not sure why she feels the need to talk about her looks so much.  I guess that’s one of the burdens of being beautiful?
     Then on to 19-year-old Christine, she so badly wants to be a great chef and make her mark in the culinary world.  The dish actually looks quite tasty, but she is unsuccessful.  Unfortunately she left raw fat on the duck and they feel that her young age and inexperience worked against her.  She leaves in tears without the prized apron.   While she didn’t make it, I certainly applaud her positive attitude and courage in auditioning. 
     Next is a compilation of out of the ordinary cooks, who make weird things, such as wild bear steaks or the contestant who brought a live, (yes live) ostrich with him, all because he was using ostrich eggs.  I have to digress now and let you know that I positively hate “gimmicks” and to me some of the contestants are awfully gimmicky.  Last night we saw fire throwers, a tractor, an ostrich, a lobster hat, and so much more.  I guess for some people it works, but for me, I just don’t get it. 
     So the next contestant, Brian prepares them stripped beaver tail with frog chips. Surprisingly, Gordon and Graham vote yes and Brian is on the show.   My question on that is what does beaver taste like?  Probably chicken, everything is said to taste like chicken.  I was intrigued by this one, I wouldn’t even have the faintest idea on how to judge a dish like that, what should it taste like?  How do you prepare it?  How did you even get the idea of eating a beaver?  He definitely took a huge risk cooking his wetland friends, but I guess it worked, he might be one to watch for entertainment value.  I want to see what he does with a bit more tame ingredients.
     You know how I said I love to hear the “backstory”?  Well Jordan most definitely has a backstory his mom taught him to cook and that she passed away five years ago. He is wearing her apron, he loves to have something of hers close to him.  This stuck a cord with me, I actually cook a lot of the time with one of my grandmother’s aprons (I have a few of hers).  There is something that is connecting about wearing someone’s apron while fixing the dishes they taught you as a kid.  His plate looks amazing, Joe even says it was one of the best opening dishes they have ever had and that he could win the show. I personally love that as he leaves the three judges are hovering over the rest of his food and honestly devouring it.  Definitely rooting for Jordan, definitely one to watch.     

     And here we are, another compilation of less than stellar dishes.  We see Gordon spitting and spattering over and over again. There is one woman who makes baked mac and cheese with a “secret ingredient”, breast milk.  She of course doesn’t tell Gordon about that until after he already has a mouthful, of course he spits and you can tell is not happy about that at all.  I don’t understand that dish at all, who even comes up with that idea for a recipe, and who gets the idea to give that to a complete stranger?  Is that even hygienic and sanitary?  I must be a prude, but I just don’t like the whole concept of that dish.  Another woman is told that the dish she made is the worst thing they have ever had, and later they end up walking out on another contestant since she won’t stop talking and clearly doesn’t understand she didn’t get the apron and her journey is over.     

     Adrianna is next up, she is a very pretty girl (though unlike Natasha didn’t mention it.)  She cooks prickly pear cactus soup, which is a dish I have actually had, its really quite delicious when I had it.   Gordon thinks she might be too nice for the competition, I don’t know show I feel when they pull the “too nice card”.  To me when ever I hear that I also hear that old line, “it’s you, it’s me.”  To me that line just feels like a cop out, but I am sure Gordon has his reasons, and he understands the situation far better than I ever will.  However in season one there was a similar interlude between him and Whitney Miller, who he feared would be too nice for the competition.  Whitney won, and Adrianna certainly shows promise.  Also this show has been awfully kind to nice girls, nice girls do well on this show,  She  does eventually convince Joe that she can be tough when needed, securing a second vote and gets her apron.  Another early favorite for me and I will be watching her.      Then starts another compilation of contestants, this time ones that were successful.  I didn’t hear the backstory on these contestants, but some of the plates looked incredible.  I am curious to see more of them next week.

     The next part I have some mixed emotions on.  George comes and  cooks for the judges a Greek wedding soup. I love wedding soup by the way, so good dish choice, George.  Joe should really know wedding soups, so it better be good.  Sadly, his recipe fell completely short, however while he is preparing the dish he tells the judges that his girlfriend is with him and he is carrying a wedding ring in his pocket for six (yes SIX) months. After the tasting Gordon tells George that he is not giving him an apron, but it is time for George to man up so George gets down on one knee and proposes. They both are very emotional and I wish them definitely all the best, hopefully it all works out for them.  He didn't get the apron, but got the girl and they seem like a very sweet couple.     

     Krissi from Philadelphia is the last cook to go before the judges on the first day of auditions. She says her son Joey is the inspiration for her being there and is surprised and thrilled when he shows up to cheer her on. I can’t pinpoint exactly what, but I like her.  Something about her seems very engaging and sincere.  She makes a stuffed meat loaf and potatoes, I love that she chose such a comfort food dish, that’s risky.   It must have been quite the meatloaf, the gets three votes.  Gordon wants to meet her son, so she brings him in. What a cute kid he is, he is very nervous because he is a huge fan of Gordon’s. He talks to Gordon about how he wants to be a chef and that his mom and Gordon are huge inspirations to him.  He is a cute kid, and I know I shouldn’t judge a mother based off of a few seconds on television, but from what I saw I think she is doing a good job with her son.  She gets three yes votes and they let Joey hand her the apron.  I like you Krissi and your cute son, please don’t let me down.      

     Now we are on to day two of the auditions starting with  Bime, a Puerto Rican who is extremely devoted to his kids. uses his kids as his inspiration. He gets very emotional during the tasting, enough so that Joe questions his emotional stability and gives him a no. Graham gives him a yes. Gordon is worried he won’t be able to be able to stand being away from his kids for long periods of time which is what this will take, but he gives him a shot and gives him a yes so Bime gets an apron and the tears come flowing again.      

     Jesse, a tall, blonde southern belle type who lives in a rural community.  She is a very pretty girl, (never mentions her looks either) but she is the picture perfect southern belle.  She makes a sea bass for the judges, Gordon asks her about fishing she tells him that she has caught numerous fish.  Love that she actually does fish.  He then tells her that her dish is a little dated and looks like it is from the 80’s.  It did look a little dated, but it also looked delicious, so I wouldn’t have been critical of it, but what do I know?. Joe gives her a no while Graham gives her a yes. Gordon wants to see if she is for real. He grabs a couple of raw, whole fish. He asks her to watch as he fillets one of them into six portions then tells her to do the same with the second fish.  I love that fact that she jumps in and does it and succeeds,  She is the real deal and she does get her apron.  I like her, I will have to watch her closely to see what she comes up with.    

     Another compilation including a guy on a motorcycle, a Goth rocker type, a woman in leather swinging fire around on chains, and a guy who uses a robot to help him cook. One woman who carves squashes carved to look like the judges, this compilation seemed like a very gimmicky one to me.     

     Then on to James, who he talks about how cooking sustained him through the loss of his mother a few years ago and his dad last year. He definitely has a hard back story, and talks about the struggles that he has faced.  He makes the judges pork belly (which I love)  and hash. He aspires to run a pub that featuring interesting food.  Joe questions if he has the fight in him to be on the show.  Then we learn that Jesse explains has put everything in his life, including his wedding, on hold for his chance to be on “Master Chef.” Joe is still not convinced and gives him a no.  (Come on Joe!  Have a heart!)  Graham is a yes. Gordon surprisingly pushes him about his ability to handle pressure, which I didn’t understand.  It’s clear that James has had a lot of pressures and stresses the past several years, so I was surprised they asked for the reassurance.  James does get the apron, another one that I am rooting for and definitely one to watch.     

     The next compilation I found to be some of the comic relief.  We are treated to an assortment of women trying to flirt with the judges as a way to impress them including one woman who says she would take Gordon home and do things to him that would leave him unable to walk the next day.  Actually is was a bit of an awkward compilation, but funny still.  None of the would-be temptresses succeeded, all leaving empty handed.   

     Sasha is the next contestant in front of the judges and she is very energetic, and proclaims herself a “beast” in the kitchen. She makes fried chicken with a bourbon glaze. She also sings as she prepares the dish. She is very likeable and soon has them all laughing, her food also impresses them and she gets an apron.     

     The next contestant is Rudy who was burned badly in a fire in 2003. He had burns on 75% of his body and spent three months in a medically induced coma. He makes what a buffalo taco, which is something I have never actually had.  He seems like a very nice man, and I love that he isn’t letting tragedy stopping him from living.  Joe doesn’t find the food as “compelling” as his story and gives him a no, seriously Joe have an heart?  Besides what dish on earth would ever be as “compelling” as his story?  Tell me that one.  Graham disagrees and gives him a yes. Gordon says he is inspired by him as a person, but gives him a no.  Boo Gordon!  Boo!  Gordon tells him to keep cooking and keep working hard.  I like you Rudy!  Thanks for being an inspiration of living and having a positive outlook in spite of obstacles.     

     After Rudy begins a run of bad cooks as many people are rejected and we see Gordon spitting over and over again.  The judges say this year is the hardest year ever to get on the show and say that the bar has been raised and they have higher expectations than ever before.     

     On to the next contestant Eddie, a former NFL football player, is up next.  Also I might mention that he played in college for Arkansas I saw him play against my team,(Texas A&M) we were both in college at the exact same time.  He was on the Patriots Super bowl team a few years ago, but injury forced him into retirement.   He makes them a jerk meatloaf over a sweet potato mash. The dish looked good to me, I would have liked to try it.  The judges seem to be intrigued by his food, and I think his background too.  Joe gives him a yes. Graham thinks he is not quite there and gives him a no. Gordon gives him a yes and he is on the show.  Another early favorite for me, and one that I will be watching closely.  In some ways his demeanor reminded me of Josh Marks from last season, who I thought was a class act.     

     Last but not least is Luca who auditioned last season and was rejected. He has battled back and gets a second shot at the judges. First off let me say, way to go Luca!  I love a fighter and some one who perseveres.  The judges all recognize him and Luca immediately tells them that last year Gordon broke his entire family’s hearts which makes them all laugh. He is likeable same as last year, but seems even more earnest in his ambition.  This time Luca gets the apron and the second try is a charm (luckily not the third as the old adage goes!)  Luca is the last cook to get on the show as the season 4 premier of "Master Chef" comes to an end.      It was a great opening episode, I think it shows the makings of a great season.  So tell me, who are your favorites?  Any predictions?  Don’t forget to tune in next week!

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