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Offline apskip

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MasterChef
« on: June 03, 2010, 07:35:01 AM »
This is a new FOX network series about cooking training by Gordon Ramsay. Here are the FOX press releases on it:

"MASTERCHEF" PREMIERES TUESDAY, JULY 27, ON FOX

Gordon Ramsay stars in MASTERCHEF, the new series that takes amateur chefs - many of whom simply cook as a hobby - and attempt to turn one of them into a culinary master. Contestants on MASTERCHEF will be put through the paces with various challenges as they compete head-to-head to create delicious dishes. The series will serve as a unique platform for people from all walks of life who want to follow their dream of working as a professional chef. These contestants will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show their passion and excitement for food as their skills and palate are tested with the hopes of becoming the winner of MASTERCHEF.

Gordon Ramsay Reveals Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot Bowles
as Fellow Judges on New Culinary Competition Series

Gordon Ramsay announced that restaurateur wine maker Joe Bastianich and four-star chef Graham Elliot Bowles will join him as judges on MASTERCHEF, premiering Tuesday, July 27 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Bastianich is a partner of Mario Batali and has established some of New York's most-celebrated restaurants, including Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, Lupa Osteria Romana and Del Posto. Bowles is the youngest four-star chef in the U.S. and the mastermind behind Chicago's first "bistronomic" restaurant, Graham Elliot. With Ramsay at the helm of the competition, Bastianich and Bowles will coach and judge the contestants along the way.

"I'm hugely excited to have Joe and Graham join me as judges on MASTERCHEF," said Ramsay. "Both bring a phenomenal wealth of expertise and professional experience to the show."

Joe Bastianich opened his first restaurant, Becco, with his mother, Lidia, in 1993. Soon after, he partnered with Mario Batali, and together they have established some of New York's most-celebrated restaurants, including Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, Lupa Osteria Romana, Esca, Casa Mono, Bar Jamón, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria and Del Posto. Expanding their horizons beyond Manhattan, Bastianich and Batali opened Enoteca San Marco, B&B Ristorante and Carnevino in Las Vegas and Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. The duo also purchased a vineyard in Italy with the goal of creating the world's finest wines and olive oils. Their latest venture, a revolutionary retail food concept called Eataly, will be debuting this summer in New York. Eataly will be a resto-market featuring the best of Italy - from Italian products to Italian dining. Bastianich is an accomplished author whose passion for the culinary arts has been recognized with professional awards from Bon Appétit magazine and the James Beard Foundation.

Chef Graham Elliot Bowles is the culinary mastermind behind Chicago's first "bistronomic" restaurant, Graham Elliot, which tempers four-star cuisine with humor and accessibility. In a very short time, the 33-year-old chef has accrued accolades, including Best New Chef in 2004 from Food & Wine magazine and three James Beard Nominations. At age 27, Bowles was the youngest four-star chef in America. In May 2008, he opened the aptly named Graham Elliot, a restaurant that would not only bear his name, but become an extension of his passionate personality embodying his core principles of humility, courage, vision, respect and focus. He is also the chef/culinary ambassador for Lollapalooza, a three-day music festival, in which he cooks for bands backstage as well as oversees all of the restaurants at the Lollapalooza Chow Town.

You can look it up with major effort: Graham Elliott Bowles appeared in Top Chef Masters I and Top Chef Masters II, not making the champions round either time but finishing second in the preliminary rounds each time. Joe Bastianich has not appeared yet on Top Chef Masters, but his mother Lidia Bastianich was a guest judge for Top Chef season 4. I expect that they will be fine as judges.

On its surface the concept of MasteChef is absurd, as nobody including Gordon Ramsay can turn a novice into a Master Chef in the one month of intense instruction that the students will get. The Culinary Institute of America takes 2 years to turn novices into chefs who are not close to readiness as master chefs. That title is typically reserved for those possessing the Certified Master Chef credential. The CMC level is the highest and most demanding level of achievement of all American Culinary Foundation certification levels, granted only after the candidate has passed an intensive 8-day test of culinary skills and knowledge.  Prerequisites to register for the CMC credentialing process are a current ACF Certified Executive Chef (CEC) or Certified Culinary Educator (CCE) credential plus references from 2 CMCs. The CEC requires experience of 3 years as a Chef de Cuisine, Executive Sous Chef, Pastry Chef or chef in charge of food production in a foodservice operation including supervision of at least three full time people in the preparation of food. The CCE requires experience of a minimum 2 years as a Chef de Cuisine (chef in charge of food production in a foodservice operation supervising at least two full-time people) or two years as a working pastry chef. It is virtually impossible to go to the CIA or any other equivalent instruction full-time and also work full-time, so the effective minimum time to reach the skills and experience required just to take the CMC exam are at least 4 years. Ramsay is mocking the process by indicating that a master chef can be created in one month. It just isn't going to happen no matter how carefully he selects his novices.

However, MasterChef may still be an enjoyable summer TV program. That remains to be demonstrated. You can expect tor read about it in this thread starting late July.

I should add that BRAVO has a whole series of culinary shows in the works for the future, so the success of Hell's Kitchen, Top Chef and Top Chef Masters has spawned an entire industry of culinary competitions. We have yet to see Top Chef Juniors or Top Chef: Just Desserts. I can wait. I learned last night that Schwan's Home Service started is currently offering Top Chef—branded frozen meals for recipes seen on the show. The worst instance of this trend is Top Chef: the Game


Offline TexasLady

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2010, 04:19:42 PM »
Quote
However, MasterChef may still be an enjoyable summer TV program. That remains to be demonstrated. You can expect tor read about it in this thread starting late July.

I should add that BRAVO has a whole series of culinary shows in the works for the future, so the success of Hell's Kitchen, Top Chef and Top Chef Masters has spawned an entire industry of culinary competitions. We have yet to see Top Chef Juniors or Top Chef: Just Desserts. I can wait. I learned last night that Schwan's Home Service started is currently offering Top Chef—branded frozen meals for recipes seen on the show. The worst instance of this trend is Top Chef: the Game

I'm willing to give it a try.

While Central Market here in Austin has classes for children, I'm NOT ready to watch Top Chef Juniors or Top Chef: Just Desserts. (Well maybe TCDesserts...)  :lol:
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Offline ugot2bekidinmeny

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2010, 07:21:53 AM »
Master Chef is FOX's bite off of Chef Academy- Bravo +  Worst cooks in america- Food Network. :lol3:

zero, zilch, nada, nothing!

Offline apskip

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2010, 12:38:28 PM »
ugot2bekidnmeny,

That's nice to know, but I will wait to actually see an episode  before I conclude that it is as worthless as Chef Academy proved to be. I thought Chef Academy was a potentially interesting concept based on the pre-show-airing hype, but I agree that its actual execution proved to be dull, boring and not worth my time. I am also reminded of Chef Marco Pierre White, whose Chopping Block show on NBC was a complete waste of time.

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2010, 01:20:12 PM »
ugot2bekidnmeny,

That's nice to know, but I will wait to actually see an episode  before I conclude that it is as worthless as Chef Academy proved to be. I thought Chef Academy was a potentially interesting concept based on the pre-show-airing hype, but I agree that its actual execution proved to be dull, boring and not worth my time. I am also reminded of Chef Marco Pierre White, whose Chopping Block show on NBC was a complete waste of time.

I thought the same thing.  :lol:  Chopping Block was a total waste of time.  I can still see him sitting in his chair waving his pointy finger at us while uttering some inane comment.
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Offline apskip

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2010, 08:05:28 PM »
Here is the latest from the FOX network on changing time slots for Master Chef:

Tuesdays (July 27-August 10)
9:00/8:00c - "Masterchef"

Wednesdays (as of August 18)
8:00/7:00c - "Masterchef" (Two-Hours)

Offline apskip

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2010, 07:02:25 AM »
Propaganda from the FOX Network:

 In just two weeks, Gordon Ramsay brings the world's biggest cooking competition to America on Tuesday, July 27 at 9/8c! The new series takes amateur chefs, many of whom simply cook as a hobby, and attempts to turn one of them into a culinary master. Contestants on MASTERCHEF will be put through the paces with various challenges as they compete head-to-head to create delicious dishes. The series will serve as a unique platform for people from all walks of life who want to follow their dream of working as a professional chef. These contestants will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show their passion and excitement for food as their skills and palate are tested with the hopes of becoming the winner of MASTERCHEF.

With Ramsay at the helm of the competition, restaurateur wine maker Joe Bastianich and four-star chef Graham Elliot join the show, and together, they coach and judge the contestants along the way. Bastianich is a partner of Mario Batali and has established some of New York's most-celebrated restaurants, including Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, Lupa Osteria Romana and Del Posto. Graham Eilliot is the youngest four-star chef in the U.S. and the mastermind behind Chicago's first "bistronomic" restaurant, Graham Elliot. "I'm hugely excited to have Joe and Graham join me as judges on MASTERCHEF," said Ramsay. "Both bring a phenomenal wealth of expertise and professional experience to the show."


Note that the statement that Graham Elliott is the youngest 4-star chef tells you that the rating system referred to is definitely not MIchelin, which tops out at 3 starts. I have heard of 5 star chefs, which are probably using the MOBIL rating system. It would be nice to have just one system; I propose that henceforth all restaurant ratings (actually they are owner ratings, not chef ratings) be using the Michelin system. That means all 4 star and 5 star chef claims will be bogus. Understand that I am not knocking Graham Eliott Bowles who based on two Top chef Masters stints is a fine chef.

Offline TexasLady

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2010, 10:05:20 AM »
Propaganda.  :lol:

I'll give it a shot. This reminds me of another show that was similar. I think on the Food Network with two teams. It made such a big impression on me that I can't even recall anything more about it, except I think they had a Red and Blue team with a male and female chef coach.
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Offline apskip

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2010, 01:14:12 PM »
Kris De Leon of buddy Tv wrote this on the new Gordon Ramsay/FOX collaboration Master Chef, premiering tomorrow night at 9pm EDT on FOX:

Gordon Ramsey has trained and tortured chefs to become the best that they can be on Hell's Kitchen, he's exposed viewers to the world of food preparation and celebrity food fads on The F Word, and has rescued failing restaurants on Kitchen Nightmares. Now he's on a new mission to turn non-professional chefs into kitchen superstars with his new series, Masterchef.

Based on the British program, Masterchef is a competition series that gives ordinary people who can cook well, despite never having been formally trained, to shine in their own right. Contestants on this show will be put through various challenges and will be judged by world-renowned chefs.

"Gordon Ramsay is the biggest cooking star on television today and one of the most dynamic personalities on FOX, so we jumped at the opportunity to work with him to bring Masterchef to the U.S.," FOX president Mike Darnell said in a statement. "Masterchef searches for people who possess that perfect blend of creativity, innovation and passion for creating great dishes - rather than focusing on running a kitchen - that earns them the title of MasterChef."

However, these everyday at-home cooks will also have to deal with Chef Ramsay's hard truth and no-nonsense advice when it comes to their cooking, which can be a little hard to swallow considering Ramsay is known for his explosive outbursts

Masterchef premieres on Tuesday, July 27 on FOX.


Tara Spicer of Buddy TV has written:

Unless you've been living in a cave your whole life--hunting and gathering food while the rest of the world watches it on TV--you've probably see at least one of the many chef shows currently in rotation. Top Chef, Master Chef, Hell's Kitchen, and Kitchen Nightmares  are just a few of the competition shows causing nationwide cravings (and my own personal longing to flambe something) and reminding amateur chefs everywhere that they, too, can achieve culinary greatness.
Well. Some of them anyway.
 
In Masterchef, a new series based on Britain's hit TV program, amateur chefs (translation: doctors, software engineers, guys in overalls, and whoever finds deep personal meaning in holding a spatula) converge from all corners of the country in the hopes that their baked potatoes/fish tacos/mac and cheese will win them the title of "Masterchef" and their very own cookbook.
 
In watching the Masterchef trailer, I can't help but be reminded of American Idol.  The formula is a predictable one: an obscenely long line of hopefuls screaming at the camera, a panel of three judges (Graham Elliot, Joe Bastianich, and the infamous Gordon Ramsay who easily trumps Simon Cowell both in snark and shirt size), and an "audition" where each amateur chef has to prepare a dish before the unblinking glare of all three judges. And, like American Idol, I predict there will be plenty of crying, monologues about people's moms, and video montages chronicling each contestant's "personal journey." Yawn. Let's just say what the real draw of this show will be: Gordon Ramsay. Being mean to people.  And Graham Elliot's distractingly white spectacles.
 
The show premiers July 27 on FOX, and I fully intend on tuning in on a full stomach so I don't crave seared ahi tuna or seafood bouillabaisse.

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2010, 07:50:17 AM »
100 CHEFS COMPETE

Due top my unagile fingers, I wiped out my entire recap of last night's premiere, so I am writing it a second time.

The premiere of Master Chef starts with an impossible premise, that you can turn the "best of America's home cooks (a bit of hyperbole there) into Master chefs in however long this series took to film, probably one month plus or minus. The traditional way of doing that is culinary school, followed by years of apprenticing in some sine dining restaurants to learn the ropes, then certifications as a master chef and finally, becoming a master chef. Gordon Ramsay, in his zeal to become the mentor of new culinary talent in the U.S., has proposed a way to do that.  The voiceover announcer stated that master chefs must demonstrate skill, passion, flair and potential. The prize is $2150,000 plus the publication of your own cookbook (which depending on how it's done could be valuable or not worth much). So, how much interests was there in competing for the single prize, with the other prizes being the opportunity to learn under 2 of America's and one of Britain's master chefs? there were "thousands of applicants" from which a pool of 100 was chosen to go to Los Angeles to narrow the instruction class to only 30. I will hazard a guess that  multiple cooks will be dropped in each episode to reach a final group of 2 or 3 competing for the title.

Approximately half of the 100 chefs listened to Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliott Bowles (note - for their resumes see a posting above), who are all acclaimed master chefs. I believe Ramsay got there at age 28 after careful apprenticeships, Bastianich inherited the genes from his more-famous mother TV chef Lilian Bastianich and Bowles I am not sure about when he became a master chef. However, it is clear that all three are well-qualified for the roles of both instructor (which we will not see much of for the first 2 episodes) and judge. The first task is to cook their signature dish. In future episodes we can expect that the challenges will involve feeding an Army unit and catering a wedding reception.

This show has FOX.Arthur Smith/Kent Weed using their tried and tried overdramatization formula with cliffhangers before commercial breaks and much pathos. If they wanted to be serious competition for the BRAVO top Chef series, which is the closest in concept to what is being done here except the instruction is embedded in comments about the positive and negative things the real chefs there have received for their Quickfire challenges and elimination challenges, FOX must cut the crap and focus more on the inherent drama of the competition. I expect to see a lot of trash talking and bursts of ego in future weeks. After all, even top chef and especially Hell's Kitchen highlight those.

The contestants in a carefully timed sequence started cooking on mobile compact kitchen units (the real star of the first episode) 60 minutes before they were due to finish, plate and present their signature dish before the judges. The judges are obviously negative immediately, clearly positive or on the fence in their verbal reactions to tasting each dish. There are a number of contestants who provided some pathos and were did not make the cut on last night's first episode. My favorite was the woman who played professional soccer in Brazil and was fawning all over Ramsay (hadn't she heard that Ramsay is happily married and would never allow on-screen dalliance?) whose tilapia tacos with mango sauce were judged not up to the standard for making the cut (perhaps a better fish might have done it). The footage only showed 9 cooks make that cut, although the voiceover announcer said that "more than half" (meaning at least 16) did so. I can predict that next week's choices for a few remaining spots are going to be dramatic and traumatic.

Here is a listing of what the 9 chefs shown as passing made and the commentary (if any) with all references to the instructors/judges using first name only for brevity:

Mike 42 server CA, Duck Ssams with orange miso sauce -  all 3 judges have comments like "brilliant and extraordinary", balanced and "spices and miso worked very well", also praising that Mike "moves fast like a master chef" in the kitchen and clearly cooked like a chef
woman, Caesar aalad with chipotle sauce
a 61 year old woman who Gordon told Joe that he was obligated to"give her an apron" after asking so many questions
a guy
Dr. Tracy Naylor, a 42 year old physician with father present and young child at home who emphasized her culinary heritage from her mother including a recipe book that she brought with her for good luck - smothered pork, which all  judges liked a lot but Joe asked if she could "take it to the next level" with instruction
a software engineer from MA, New England style bouillabaisse with French bread crouton and rouille - this guy came in over the top and impressed the judges with his arrogance until Gordon told him that a more humble approach would be needed if he was to survive, his flavors impressed the judges but Gordon told him that real bouillabaisse must take 2 days to cook and cannot be hurried into 1 hour; the vote was split but he made it
Josh a rancher
Christine LA who I am going to name the drama queen for her emotional outbursts, Cajun Catfish with Creamy Shrimp sauce - she cooks in the Cajun new Orleans style; Gordon found her catfish cooked perfectly but her pasta off, Joe said pasta terrible adn there was a split vote but she got yeses from Gordon and Graham
Farug a young man with wife and young child present, "sheikh" macaroni and cheese with bread crumb topping and Parmesan butterflies - Gordon told him to ditch the butterflies as they were superfluous and that cooking a simple dish like mac and cheese required perfect results; Farug's results were not perfect only because he had underseasoned the dish with not enough salt or pepper; this was one of those split votes; Gordon told him to take the salt mill with him and learn how to use it sparingly

The preview of next week's episode revealed that we can expect these 4 situations:
a woman given an extra 2 hours to go home, cook the best dish ever and come back to present it
a man with 3 fingers on each hand
a woman who Gordon told Graham he needed ot change his vote and go out to the audience and "give that woman an apron"
a man Graham says he will sponsor and personally mentor

So, the question you have no doubt waiting to have me answer is: Do I recommend this show for future viewing? I cannot give you an answer for another 2 weeks, as next week will be another sorting out process to select those needed to make the magic "30". The following episode will be the first instruction, which I expect to be extremely rapid fire just like Ramsay does on Hell's Kitchen, no doubt to emphasize the need for speed. I will let you know when I have seen the first instructional episode.

« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 08:31:31 AM by apskip »


Offline TexasLady

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2010, 09:45:11 AM »
Excellent recap apskip! I had the show on but only halfway watched it so I can't say too much about the contestants chosen. It did remind me of American Idol with the way each person was given a chance to make a dish and the drama, whether or not the person passed the plating and taste test.

I also will know more in a few weeks whether this is worth watching or a waste of time. I did think my DIL should have tried out for the show. She's an excellent cook and works as a chef demonstrating how to prepare food to an audience every day. If the show does well perhaps she can try out next year.  :tup:
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Offline apskip

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2010, 09:19:52 AM »
I regret this, but I will be out of commission for about 2 weeks starting with the second episode of Master Chef and unable to either view it or write my recaps. I will catch up around ep. 4 on August 17. Anyone could take this one over if they choose.

Offline TexasLady

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2010, 10:52:41 PM »
Hopefully someone can pick up the job. We'll miss you apskip.
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Offline apskip

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2010, 06:45:03 PM »
I am mostly back from my extended outage away from posting in the Other Reality Shows superthreads. I promised that when I did return I would provide my best recommendation of worth it/not worth it on Master Chef. Texas Lady has done minor comments but other than those I am where I expected to be. I have finished episode 1(double hour), 2 single hour, 3 (single hour and 4 (double hour) an even though I have not posted about them yet I know what I will be saying and it should only take days to have them all completed.

Do I recommend Master Chef? That question has a contingent answer. If you want a fast-paced competition similar to Hell's Kitchen, this is good and all that is available to watch right now of its type (different from Top Chef and Just Desserts). I was expecting something a bit different with serious culinary instruction involved. All the cooks on Master Chef get is Gordon Ramsay on techniques for chopping onions moving at lightning speed so it is difficult to learn any new tips of the home chef anyway. I doubt that this will change in the reminaining 5 or 6 weeks this show can be expected to take.

I am truly disappointed. I am watching this only because of the analogies to Hell's Kitchen. It should have been better.

Offline apskip

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2010, 01:42:41 PM »
Ep. 2 continuation of original Apron Award Decisions

The "cook you signature dish" competition continued for the second half of the original group. The decisions whittled the size of theoriginl invites ot a more management 30, who were told to come back ready to rumble.

 

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2010, 01:53:27 PM »
30 CHEFS COMPETE

Ep. 3 began with the 30 remaining cooks inside a grubby industrial building (the kitchen units for the signature dishes had looked start of the art). They watched a dumptruck roll in and unload heavy sacks of onions. Those familiar with mise-en-place (including certainly the 3 judges) would expect a competition to chop an entire 10 pound sack of onions into small, evenly sized, neat piles. Anyone could be evaluated at any time and have an instant pass-fail decision made. It took 90 minutes for the last 2 contestants to reach that point. At the end, about 5 had been eliminated for inadequate knife skills.

The next test was to cook an egg perfectly with any of a huge range of other ingredients so hat the egg flavor was predominant. A very wide range of combinations was tried and about 11 contestants were eliminated. That left 14 to go to the next round.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 08:32:49 AM by apskip »

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2010, 02:20:46 PM »
14 CHEFS COMPETE

There was a competition to test creativity. All cooks were given the identical ingredients:

tomatoes
lemon
pork chop
cabbage
cream
parsley
bread
apples
cognac
cinnamon
chocolate

Whitney wins this and her reward is to pick a single ingredient from Chinese mushrooms, mandarin oranges and duck as a mandatory one for all to use. Whitney gets to pick for 5 minutes from the ingredient bins while all the others have only half that time. All dishes are supposed to be Chinese. Almost everyone used chicken and stir-fried, so the range of dishes is quite low.

Mike won this cookoff.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 08:33:58 AM by apskip »

Offline apskip

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2010, 03:37:43 PM »
14 CHEFS COMPETE

There was a competition to test creativity. All cooks were given the identical ingredients:

tomatoes
lemon
pork chop
cabbage
cream
parsley
bread
apples
cognac
cinnamon
chocolate

Whitney wins this and her reward is to pick a single ingredient from Chinese mushrooms, mandarin oranges and duck as a mandatory one for all to use. Whitney gets to pick for 5 minutes from the ingredient bins while all the others have only half that time. All dishes are supposed to be Chinese. Almost everyone used chicken and stir-fried, so the range of dishes is quite low.

Mike won this cookoff.

There was a competition to reduce the group from 14 to 12. Sheena and Avis were cut at this point.

Finally, there is a real competition involving food preparation for an entire meal. The remaining group of 12 was assembled to visit a Marine base near San Diego.  Mike was asked by Ramsay to pick a team of 6, so he chose Jake, Lee, Tony, Tracy and Sheetal . The other team was defined by who was left but included Whitney, Slim, Sharone, Faruq,  and Sharone who assumed leadership of this team. They had to pick a menu to feed about 400 Marines and their families, size out the quantities of ingredients involved, prep theose ingredients, have the finished food ready for serving and in most cases even serve it. Mike's team appeared to be losing to Jenna's teamon better menu and food quality but a critical mistake by Faruq in running out of potatoes and in running out of vegetables due to not prepping enough was made and Sharone's team lost to Mike's.  That gave Mike's team exemption from the "guess those ingredients" challenge, a favorite of Ramsay's over the entire run of Hell's Kitchen for good reason.  Excellent palate skills are extremely important for master chefs.

The product being tasted was Texas-style chili. The cooks went a bit further than normally happens in Hell's Kitchen, so I believe it is not a super-challenging one. Someone managed to guess the palate skills of the 6 competitors in fairly reverse order, so that the following contestant would win against his following contestant and could be released to the viewing platform where the other team already was.

First up was Whitney and she was phenomenal. She guessed onions, celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, Jalapeno peppers, garlic, cilantro, oil, beans, beef salt and beef stock correctly for a total of 12 before making an error with chili powder.

Faruq got 9 including parsley. That released Whitney.

Jenna got 7. That released Faruq.

Slim got 8.

David got 8 including salt.

Sharone got 8, including cumin which released Slim, David and Sharone and eliminated Jenna.  
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 08:36:58 AM by apskip »

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2010, 04:43:22 PM »
11 CHEFS COMPETE

This episode started with a Box Challenge. In it were the ingredients to make one cupcake plus there was also a huge selection of fruits, sweets and other enhancements. The cooks were given 45 minutes to bake and decorate. Tracy was heartbroken that her cupcakes never rose properly and was nt considered at all due to the "pick only the best 3" rule that Gordon, Joe and Graham have imposed. Those were Whitney, Jake and Sharone.
Sharone had never made a cupcake before in his life, but he won. He was to discover that his reward was extra special, as he would be given the opportunity to cook against a celebrity master chef and if he should unbelivably win he would go straight to the final group of 4. Since that was almost impossible he would still be guaranteed not being eliminated and having an incredible experience.

That celebrity chef was Cat Cora from Iron Chef and he had a choice from 3 of her favorite dishes:
the first dish is truffle halibut with sweet corn zabaglione
the second is beef tenderloin with cous cous
the final dish is marinated lamb with feta salsa verde.

Sharone picked truffled halibut, which everyone had to make.There is no formal recipe for it, as she has made it "thousands of times" and might be able to do it blind-folded. She demonstrated the steps but a lot of the art of this dish is in intricacies of the sauce and that was difficult to pick up from a brief observation.

Sharone cooked against Cat Cora and everyone else remaining cooked to avoid elimination. Sharone did extremely well, but they do not have a place waiting for him at Iron Chef just yet. The winner of the rest was Jake, who will get a reward. The loser was selected from Mike, Slim and Faruq. Faruq had been struggling and this was his demise on Master Chef.

The next morning the cooks went to a truckstop in the California desert where 100 hungry truckers would be descending to eat hamburgers prepared and serve by a Blue team and a Red team. Jake got to pick the Blue team of Tracy, Whitney, Lee and Tony. The Red team by default was Sharone, Slim, Sheetal, David and Mike. This exercise was designed to test teamwork, making good choices and adjusting to mitigate the impact of bad choices.

Jake picked 100% beef for his team's burgers; so did Sharone. Jake picked cheese as a topping but Sharone had blue cheese in the mix of hamburger. As soon as actual production began, Red was in trouble because that cheese melted and gunked up their grills. Sharone successful  adjusted very rapidly and then went on to make other adjustments (two burgers in one bun, etc.) to maximize the appeal of his team's offering. Jake almost defiantly refused to admit that there was anything wrong with his offering despite the scorecard continually showing gains by Red after the initial advantage of Blue. It was even at 17 - 17, then Red finished it at 51-35 for the win.

The Red team became exempt from an  ingredient visual/touch test( no eating allowed). The lowest consecutive score from the Blue team would be eliminated. Jake went first and has an incredible ability to identify ingredients visually. He correctly picked tomatillo, golden raisins, macadamia nuts, butternut squash, plaintains, okra, rhubarb, blue cheese, filet mignon, rosemary, salmon up to a  total of 11 out of 25 there before picking sorrel instead of watercress).

Tony correctly identified 9 and went into the suspense category.

Lee correctly identified 10 and was safe.

Whitney correctly identified 10 and was safe. This eliminated Tony.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 08:41:04 AM by apskip »

Offline apskip

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2010, 09:36:08 AM »
9 CHEFS COMPETE

This episode started with a Mystery Box challenge. Tomatoes, apple, ginger, avocado, prosciutto, peanuts, asparagus and garlic were all outside the box. The chefs were asked to pull the box away to reveal what was underneath. It was a live Dungeness crab. Nobody had any trouble sticking it into boiling water immediately except Cheetal, who as a Hindu claimed she had never taken the life of a creature. She fretted about this or 30 minutes of 60 minute cooking time, then finally put her crab in the water. She had lost too much time to catch up to the highest level, but maybe she could salvage something. The judges announced they would taste only the top 3 dishes. They chose:

Sharone - Dungeness crab cucumber prosciutto roll with apple ginger reduction.
Lee - Dungeness crab salad w/ fresh avocado and Gazpacho Andaluz
Cheetal (no doubt getting some sympathy points from the judges) - Tomato and Crab Curry

Gordon Ramsay commented that Sharone's dish was vibrant, fresh, delicious and creative. Graham called Lee's dish "you knocked it out of the park".  Cheetal's dish according to Joe was simple but excellent. Lee was the winner, having created the single best dish in the brief history of Master Chef, and that gave him the right to choose the main ingredient for the next cooking challenge, creating a Romantic dish.

Lee had the choice of chocolate (which he abhorred), passion fruit and fresh burratta, a mozzarella/cream cheese mix from Italy. He could not think of what he wanted to do with burratta, so passion fruit was his choice. They had 1 hour to cook and all 9 dishes were going to be tasted, with the worst resulting in an elimination of its creator. Sharone tok a huge risk by doing beef sous vide when he was having trouble with the sous vide system, but he did persevere and get excellent results. Lee's shrimp with beef tenderloin sautee w/ cauliflower and a marmalade of passion fruit glaze was the winner. The group of 4 with the worst dishes were the women, Tracy, Cheetal, Whitney and Slim. Tracy and Cheetal were judged to have better dishes and were not going home. A question asked by Joe to Whitney got the wrong answer from her (she said a minor adjustment to less garlic was the way to fix it when the judges believed a total revamp was necessary. However, it was Slim who got the boot.

The next phase of the competition was catering a wedding at an upscale Malibu country club. Lee got to pick his team, which was Mike, Jake and Tracy. He obviously snubbed the best competitor, Sharone, so Sharone became the captain of the opposing team. He by default got Whitney, Cheetal and David. The menu was very simple - Caesar salad with goat cheese tartlet plus surf and turf (filet mignon and Canadian salmon) with mashed potatoes and onion rings and it was 115 portions of each done by each team. It appeared that no special doneness instructions were allowed, so all proteins were cooked at one doneness level. Each team leader assigned roles to specific individuals Tracy started out well, but later went into a funk, having problems with lettuce and burning the tartlet. If this test could have resulted in an elimination, it certainly would have been her. Next worst was Sharone himself, who assigned himself the fileting of the salmon but butchered the first huge fish badly.  Sharone's team was making a huge comeback and got the first appetizers out and the feedback indicated they were excellent. Their lead continued throughout and Lee's team could never pull even on even timeliness or quality. The judges felt obligated to jump in for a quality control role; they did no cooking but prevented bad preparations from leaving the kitchen. Joe acted as sommelier and gathered feedback. Although the judges stated they needed a day to decide, it was perfectly clear to home viewers who had won. It was Sharone's team, which was then exempt from a pressure test.

That pressure test was 90 minutes to cook fresh pasta. Early on, the judges observed that Jake had the correct technique for combining the flour and egg with slight temperature increase from his body as transmitted primarily through his hands. The dishes presented were:

Tracy - ravioli bolognese; she had originally planned on lasagna but had to abandon that; the judges said a real bolognese sauce could not be done in less than 3 hours
Jake - fettucine w/ calamari tubes and minimal pasta sauce
Mike - he had trouble getting his pasta to hang before Ramsay told him to flour it; his dish was ravioli w/ tomato-based sauce
Lee - ravioli w/ a simple sauce heavy on garlic
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 09:45:48 AM by apskip »

Offline apskip

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2010, 08:53:44 AM »
6 CHEFS COMPETE

We are left with Sharone, Lee, David, Mike, Whitney and Sheetal as the final 6. The Mystery box challenge will cut one of them. The ingredients are:
Venison
Blueberries
Bacon
Red Cabbage
Fingerling Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts
Red wine
Beet root
Quail Eggs

Graham indicated that the choices for using quail eggs are difficult: braising, searing, tartare. However, you have to do them precisely to avoid problems. The judges wouldl taste only the top 3 dishes based on their observations of technique in creation and the probability that the dish will succeed.

Sheetal produced a venison that came out  from pan searing relatively early and rested for a long time, which Ramsay identified as a key factor in who will succeed the balance of cooking time vs. resting time for optimal development of flavor and juices. On it was a red wine reduction sauce and accompanying it were creamed Brussels sprouts. Ramsay said it was chosen for one of the 3 because the venison looked like it was cooked perfectly.

The competition for him was Sharone and Whitney. Whitney had pan-seared venison with a berry sauce. Sharone had perfectly cooked his venison on teh bone, which got him into the group of 3 judged. However, he had very strange globs of things smeared all over his pale, so the on-venison part of his plate was scored at close to 0.  Ramsay said that Whitney's looked beautiful. In her first top result, Sheetal won this test and received choice of the key ingredients for the next cooking challenge, the Invention Test. The theme was desserts and the choice was between a range of honey products, a range of berries (straw, rasp, huckle, goose, etc.) and a range of vanilla products. She chose vanilla. that is the key ingredient all cooked with, but this challenge involved anything in the pantry. They had one hour to cook, except that Sheetal had 15 minutes more. All would be tested  and the lowest rated dish would send its creator home. Dishes presented were:

David - creme brulee (Ramsay told him after it was too late that he had chosen the most difficult way to cook it - oven with a water bath) with vanilla  orange mango coulis
Sheetal - plan was for vanilla sponge cake with vanilla custard, but her sponge cake did not bake thoroughly so she had an abbreviated dish that was clearly not acceptable
Sharone - it was supposed to be a Napoleon with 3 different types of nuts; actual was listed as a Mille-Feuille with zabaglione
Whitney - profiterole with Senegalese vanilla in Chantilly cream and flambeed bananas
Lee - Bourbon pan perdu (old dried bread) with vanilla
Mike - Poached Pear trifle w/ vanilla scented brandy

Comments on these were:
Mike- short on flavor (Ramsay); question "are there raw eggs in it?" (3 times from Joe) before Mike sheepishly admitted there were. Joe refused to even taste it.
Lee - this is dried bread (Joe)
Whitney, Sharone, David - "your dishes are stunning and you are safe"
Mike, Lee, Sheetal - "your dishes are inferior; one of you is going home right now"

The odd man out was Mike, who was severely criticized for running around the kitchen like a chicken with its head cut off.. Lee got a reprieve form a poor performance only because of Mike's raw egg component. Sheetal had wasted the advantage of her picking the key ingredient and getting 15 minutes more cooking time.

The next challenge was probably the best ever. This panel of judges was brought in for the battle of the final 5:

Jeffrey Steingarten, food editor, Vogue magazine
Tanya Steel. Editor, www.epicurious .com
Barbara Fairchild - Editor-in-chief, Bon Appetit

This was billed by Ramsay as a heavyweight panel of judges and indeed it is. The aspiring chefs recognized the the judges had previously tasted a better version of anything they could create.

I loved the next part, the chefs going on a fishing boat to catch their primary protein, which turned out based on where they were fishing was guaranteed to be a California sculpin or scorpion fish. It had poisonous tentacles on the outside, so they had to be careful in handling them. Cooking and judging were at the Ritz-Carlton. The dishes were:

Lee -sculpin in its own braising broth supplemented by carrots, shallots and fennel
Whitney - pan-seared culpin Italian style w/ tomato sauce
Sharone - sculpin liver and grilled sculpin w fennel
David - Sculpin cooked like lobster w/ yellow pepper, a touch of saffrom
Sheetal - Sculpin in sauce w/ cauliflower

None of the chefs got any significant feedback from the judges, but they did get some questions. Whitney was asked what type of tomatoes she used, with the implicit question of why they were not fresh (she had used canned and it was obvious to Jeffrey). There was also judges commentary to just themselves about too much garlic in her dish. Sharone was given the opportunity to describe his dish and he took what may have been dozens of minutes describing how he got to where he is before a very brief description of his dish(I hope he lost points for doing that). Jeffrey told Tanya and Barbara that Sharone's liver component of the dish tasted bad. He also encouraged Tanya and Barbara to try monkfish liver, which he claimed is the "foie gras of the sea."

The few comments the judges made among themselves indicated that there was no common ground in their thinking on the chefs. However, the process of totaling points will average that out. Each judge could give out up to 12 points, with 4 maximum to any chef. The results were:

David 11.5 ( almost perfect)
Lee 8
Whitney 5
Sharone 4
Sheetal between 5 and 8

This put David, Lee and Sheetal into the Final 4 and left Sharone to face-off with Whitney for the final spot. What will the deciding Pressure Test be? The judges made it as hard as possible, the most fiendishly difficult dessert to make: souffle, with each chef able to submit just one but create as many as they liked in 90 minutes.. As Ramsay said, you have to tinker with the components and test them out to see how they rise and hold that rise after 14 minutes of optimal baking. The edge here had to be with Whitney, the budding pastry chef (only Tracy appeared in the same level of affinity for baking desserts). Joe said that souffles are a combination of technical skill and nerves to let the right moment happen. It was quite a contrast in styles between Whitney and Sharone. he did as recommended and tested out a few as a learning experience before reaching 15 minutes left and having to go with his final 2 Chocolate Souflees with sea salt. Whitney had ignored the please of Ramsay to try something and learn first and she was rigidly focused on getting the ratios of ingredients as perfect as possible. With slightly more than 15 minutes left, she put hers in to bake. The Souflees with Orange Zest came out looking perfect but Ramsay warned her to powder sugar it and serve it so it did not fall within the next 90 seconds where that could happen. Sharone's came out looking good also. The judges sampled each and decided. Whitney was in fact perfect and Sharone's needed a few more minutes cooking time. So Sharone went home and Whitney to the final 4.
  


« Last Edit: September 10, 2010, 01:30:37 PM by apskip »

Offline TexasLady

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2010, 09:08:20 AM »
Thanks apskip, another excellent recap! I haven't been able to watch as much of this as I'd like so it's helpful to read about this episode. Desserts always seem to separate the best from the ordinary.
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Offline joetraff

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2010, 12:40:34 AM »
14 CHEFS COMPETE

There was a competition to test creativity. All cooks were given the identical ingredients:

tomatoes
lemon
pork chop
cabbage
cream
parsley
bread
apples
cognac
cinnamon
chocolate

Whitney wins this and her reward is to pick a single ingredient from Chinese mushrooms, mandarin oranges and duck as a mandatory one for all to use. Whitney gets to pick for 5 minutes from the ingredient bins while all the others have only half that time. All dishes are supposed to be Chinese. Almost everyone used chicken and stir-fried, so the range of dishes is quite low.

Mike won this cookoff.

There was a competition to reduce the group from 14 to 12. Sheena and Avis were cut at this point.

Finally, there is a real competition involving food preparation for an entire meal. The remaining group of 12 was assembled to visit a Marine base near San Diego.  Mike was asked by Ramsay to pick a team of 6, so he chose Jake, Lee, Tony, Tracy and Sheetal . The other team was defined by who was left but included Whitney, Slim, Sharone, Faruq,  and Sharone who assumed leadership of this team. They had to pick a menu to feed about 400 Marines and their families, size out the quantities of ingredients involved, prep theose ingredients, have the finished food ready for serving and in most cases even serve it. Mike's team appeared to be losing to Jenna's teamon better menu and food quality but a critical mistake by Faruq in running out of potatoes and in running out of vegetables due to not prepping enough was made and Sharone's team lost to Mike's.  That gave Mike's team exemption from the "guess those ingredients" challenge, a favorite of Ramsay's over the entire run of Hell's Kitchen for good reason.  Excellent palate skills are extremely important for master chefs.

The product being tasted was Texas-style chili. The cooks went a bit further than normally happens in Hell's Kitchen, so I believe it is not a super-challenging one. Someone managed to guess the palate skills of the 6 competitors in fairly reverse order, so that the following contestant would win against his following contestant and could be released to the viewing platform where the other team already was.

First up was Whitney and she was phenomenal. She guessed onions, celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, Jalapeno peppers, garlic, cilantro, oil, beans, beef salt and beef stock correctly for a total of 12 before making an error with chili powder.

Faruq got 9 including parsley. That released Whitney.

Jenna got 7. That released Faruq.

Slim got 8.

David got 8 including salt.

Sharone got 8, including cumin which released Slim, David and Sharone and eliminated Jenna.  
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Offline apskip

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2010, 03:36:34 PM »
SEMI-FINALS and FINALS

The first hour of this episode was the two competitions between Sheetal and David and between Whitney and Lee. The second hour was the final battle between the two winners of the above. The general belief was that if there was a dessert course (out of 3 courses) involved then Whitney the Pastry Princess would be able to beat anyone else as she would win that course plus one of the other two. We'll see if this logic hold up.

David vs. Sheetal
The judges invited the families of Sheetal and David to enter and ascend to the observation platform. The requested dishes, one from each judge and judged exclusively by him for the semi-finals were:

Joe Bastianich - veal Milanese the classic way it's made by Joe's mother
Graham Elliot Bowles - a perfect American apple pie
Gordon Ramsay - the perfect chowder (Sheetal complains that is too big an advantage for a New England chef, but is told there are no limits on what type of chowder)

The chefs had 2 hours to create, cook and plate; both worked on the pie first. David's crust was not working right, so he elected to jettison that approach and jam the crust into circular ramekins placing on top 11 slices of apple, and then cook his apple pie.

Sheetal's chowder used some lime juice and the shells of shrimp in the base. Sheetal used the concept of pounding the veal  thin then pan frying it. David took a risk and did his in the oven. Ramsay stated that it did not look like a chop and did not appear to be finished.

Ramsay was exhorting both to taste their food and then there was 20 minutes left. He told them timing is everything, obviously good advice but sometimes hard to determine what is good timing and what is not.

There was long conversation on David's controversial approach, but in the final analysis it's what on the plate that should matter.

For the pie, Sheetal used only Granny Smith apples. Graham praised hers beautiful, unadorned and simple. David had made not an apple pie but more like an apple cupcake.  Its only virtue was the crumble on top. Sheetal blew him away on this course.

Sheetal stuck with the classic method of pan frying veal Milanese. David started there but he finished in the oven. Joe judged and found David's superior. He won that course and the place in the finals and now went up to the observation deck.

Whitney vs. Lee
This one is going to be a fascinating battle. Whitney has gained the reputation of unbeatable on desserts even though she can be and has been beaten on other courses in the entire competition. The door opened and, among others, Lee's aged mother had been brought over from Israel to watch him compete. He is thrilled that his mother is there and at the end asked if she could taste his food that he is so proud of.

The judges reveal the courses for this battle:
Eggs Benedict
Chicken Parmesan
Cheesecake (automatic edge to Whitney)

Lee planned to use vanilla, rhubarb and butter in his cheesecake. Whitney was taking a huge risk by doing hers in the refrigerator on a No-Bake concept, with blackberries around the outside and graham cracker caramel topping.

For the eggs Benedict Whitney was planning on using Southern-style grit cakes rather than classic English muffin and adding Andouille sausage for more Southern style. Whitney had a malfunction an broke her egg at thew wrong time, necessitating a do-over. She has a swirl of hot water going and it took only 15 seconds to cook.  She barely got it sauced and plated.

The final judgment was that the grit cakes made that dish too heavy. Lee won that course.

Whitney easily won the chicken Parmesan course. The cheesecake will decide the outcome. Will Whitney's gamble pay off? As always, Whitney takes it the the wire in plating. Ramsay stated that both taste superb, but the winner is Whitney, who will next face David Miller in the finals.

David vs. Whitney
The finals are similar but not identical in concept as the chefs get to choose their own dishes for each of 3 courses.  David is viewed as taking abnormal risks in an effort to give himself maximum motivation. Whitney is younger but with a great talent for desserts and technical cooking. She will take risks but probably lesser ones. He tends to play to the audience while she is more controlled.  The first course will be :

David - Scallops Ceviche w/ pea puree
Whitney - Crispy corn Cake w/ shrimp, black-eyed pea puree w/ shrimp sauce

The second course will be:
David - Beef Wellington  w/ pulverized chanterelles (note- the judges were offended at how David took a fine ingredient and turned it into a pedestrian one)
Whitney - Buttermilk breast of chicken w/ creamed collard and turnip greens

The third course was:
David - Nectarine crepes suzettes
Whitney - White chocolate bread pudding w/ raspberry coulis and white chocolate sauce (note - midstream, Whitney had changed course and apparently went to a souffle concept but had not been able to deliver that so used a broken souflee for her bread pudding base

The judges kept their thoughts to themselves after providing some feedback to the chefs. David was questioned on his use of a the pea puree in what Ramsay considered to be an additional course rather than a complementary part of the appetizer course. The judges commented among themselves how sacraligious his handling of the chanterelle mushrooms was.Whitney was questioned on his diversion from her original plan to use most of a souflee concept.

The judges went out to meet the audience, but put the chefs on a special circular pedestal. They announced that the first master chef winner was Whitney. It was obviously very close. I think David lost it not on flavors but on attitude as exemplified by his clowning around with the audience. Ramsay and the judges had to ask him to cut it out and be as focused and concentrated as Whitney was.

So that's the end of Master Chef season 1. It was interesting to see what can be done with top-notch amateurs vs. the professionals seen in Top Chef and Hell's Kitchen. It looked like the best of the best amateurs could compete readily in Hell's Kitchen. I enjoyed it and will watch the next season when it appears.


« Last Edit: September 16, 2010, 03:49:15 PM by apskip »

Offline TexasLady

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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #24 on: October 03, 2010, 04:28:37 PM »
Thank you apskip for your excellent recap. It was an interesting concept and the contestants proved that an amateur can cook on a high level even with all the added pressure.  I hope the series returns.
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Re: MasterChef
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2010, 04:31:02 PM »
I thought this was interesting:

October 2, 2010
Update on MasterChef winner Whitney Miller

By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor The Picayune Item Picayune Item Sat Oct 02, 2010, 06:38 PM CDT

PICAYUNE — For those that have called The Picayune Item wanting an update on MasterChef winner, Whitney Miller, here it is.

Miller says, “The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of travel, interviews, updating my Facebook page and working on my cookbook. I have been to New Orleans, La. and all over Mississippi doing interviews for radio and television.”

The weekend following the MasterChef season finale, Miller was asked to walk out on the field at the MSU game and viewed the game from the President’s Box.

“It was an  honor to be asked,” she said of the experience.

“I keep busy now. My family still plays a major part in everything that I do. My mom travels with me and works with me in the kitchen when I am working on my cookbook. My dad is the “taster,” which is the perfect job for him,” she says.

Speaking of the cookbook, Miller says the rumors that her new book is exclusively of desserts are not true.

“No, it is not just dessert recipes,” says Miller.

“My focus and vision for my first cookbook is to have it based in Southern foods and maybe do a second one that would exclusively be desserts.”

“I am really excited about it. I have a good insight into what people want in cookbooks like lots of photos and a font that is easy to read. I think that people do not want to go to a recipe and see a long list of ingredients and things that are hard to find.”

“I am working hard behind the scenes on it (the cookbook) and hope to have it available by the end of the year.

“Of course, I am trying to stay focused on the cookbook, but there has been talk of my having a cooking show. I have also been asked, by two other people, to collaborate on a show with them. There have been three magazines that are Mississippi related that have asked about me doing an article or column for them for food and cooking. None of these is concrete, yet. For now, it is all just talk,” Miller says.

Continue reading here
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