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Offline apskip

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2011, 10:26:23 AM »
MC2, Ep. 13

This episode started with a Mystery Box Challenge. The exclusive ingredients were large special scallops, eggs, arugula, cauliflower, pancetta, shelled peas, corn on the cob, bananas, avocado, red onion, croissants and brandy. The cooks had 60 minutes to create and, if chosen to be among the top 3, present their dish. The top 3 dishes were:

Ben – seared scallops with roasted bananas and corn salsa
Adrien – scallops 3 ways with corn, egg, and cauliflower puree
Christian - scallop succotash

Adrien won and discovered that the theme for the upcoming Elimination Challenge was cooking with cuts from a pig. He received the huge advantage of assigning to each of the 9 cooks a special pork cut which the judges urged him to use to try to eliminate a tough competitor. They stated that pork belly and pork cheeks were the most difficult to work with:
Adrien – double pork loin for himself
Alejandra – pork loin
Ben – pork butt
Christian – pork cheeks (acknowledged by the judges to be the most difficult)
Christine – baby back ribs
Derrick – St. Louis ribs
Jennifer – ground pork
Suzy – pork belly
Tracy – applewood smoked bacon

The cooks then had 60 minutes to create and cook these dishes:

Adrien – double cut pork chops with apple beer sauce and sweet potatoes
Alejandra – pork loin (generally regarded to be the easiest cut with apricot wine sauce; pork slice raw in its center on both sides
Ben – pork butt chili (he had problems with undercooked beans, so he took out as many as possible, but Joe actually liked them)
Christian – braised pork cheeks with apple fennel slaw
Christine – baby back ribs with a dry rub, Brussels sprouts and leeks
Derrick – braised St. Louis ribs, roasted tomato tartare
Jennifer – sauerkraut, ground pork, mustard
Suzy – spaetzele with pork fat + braised cabbage with pork with too many cloves
Tracy – not shown

The winners’ group was Christian, who excelled at the most difficult cut (disproving the judges theory that getting the most difficult cut was always a disadvantage), and Christine. The worst 3 were Jennifer for having an outdated uninteresting dish, Suzy for having the nerve to cook German food when she never had previously and never visited Germany and Alejandra for not testing either side of her pork slice properly and serving it raw. Joe during sampling had gone so far as to dump Jennifer’s dish into the garbage to emphasize what he thought of it.

The competitor eliminated was Alejandra. Ramsay called serving raw pork to anyone anytime a catastrophic error.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 10:10:21 PM by apskip »

Offline franxaverian

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #26 on: July 27, 2011, 12:30:15 PM »
Apskip, the one that has her dish thrown over was Jennifer's, not Suzy's

Offline apskip

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2011, 03:41:24 PM »
MC2, Ep. 14

This challenge started outdoors in a suburban cul de sac with the captains picking teams for this challenge. Christian chose the Blue team of Adrian, Derrick and Jennifer. Christine chose the Red team of Tracy, Ben and Suzy. Every cook left in this competition had a degree of skill that varies depending on what type of cooking it is. This challenge will be to cook burgers and sides in 2 hours plus one hour serving time for 200 kids who will be the judges. The catch is no beef and no potatoes. The basic decisions on what to cook are made by the captains, but Christine listened to ideas from her team and Christian did not. Those menus were:

Blue – turkey sliders with cheese, ketchup, mustard and pickle; side of fresh apple slices with caramel sauce
Red – originally pan fried chicken nugget burgers with creamy ranch dressing, fried corn nugget

Jennifer got into arguments with Christian on the caramel sauce (which she asked him not to stir while she was cooking it because it subsequently crystallized; also whether the total number of items on top of the burger was not too much, particularly the mustard). Jennifer cited her experience with her 5 year old against Christian’s with a nine year old. She was right, as it turned out. Christian arrogance and autocracy cost both him and his team.

It was obvious early in the cooking process that Red could not finish 200 burgers using pan frying. They needed to switch to grilling to get higher throughput.

The 200 kids descended and went to either food station first, ate, then ate at the other station and decided how they would vote. It looked to me that about 60% went to Red, I believe drawn by the creamy ranch dressing. Only about 40% went to Blue. Victory went to the Red team, who would then be exempt from a nasty Pressure Test. All kids got a nice official MasterChef cooking box with unknown contents but sponsored by Ramsay, Bowles and Bastianich (so it can’t be all that bad), one way to accomplish surreptitious product placement.

At the beginning of that Pressure Test, the enmity between Jennifer and Christian was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Jennifer said some things on national TV that did not get by the censor. She was totally upset and determined to give Christian his come-uppance. Ramsay asked Christian which one other Blue team chef he wanted to compete head-to-head with, giving Adrien and Derrick the belief that they would be off the hook. Not so fast, as Ramsay was only faking you out. All 4 members of the Blue team have to compete on this one.

The end product of the Pressure Test was revealed and it was a cheese soufflé, one of the most difficult items any chef can ever face, and they have 90 minutes to make as many as they like but only one can be officially submitted for tasting. Judging criteria are texture, proper rise and taste. The chefs started by preparing their ingredients and getting their oven to the right temperature. It took almost 50 minutes of preparation before Derrick put in a test batch. Christian, Adrien and Jennifer did so just inside 1 hour. Given that each batch takes 14 to 17 minutes, that meant that they could submit just one of the soufflés from the batch of each one. Derrick made a minor adjustment and put another one in at just after 70 minutes (20 to go). Christian’s cheddar and parmesan soufflé completed and he submitted it. Adrien’s Gruyere and parmesan soufflé completed and he submitted it. Jennifer’s cheddar and parmesan soufflé completed and was submitted. All of them looked good and the judges sampled each one, but they made no comments at all. Derrick’s second souffle batch went right to the wire and he delivered His Gruyere and parmesan soufflé to the judges with no time left.

The verdict of the judges was delivered: Jennifer go upstairs, you’re safe; Derrick delicious, go upstairs; Adrien OK, go upstairs. That left Christian, who was led to believe that his was inferior to the others and that he would be going home. However, the judges had played a ruse on him to make him eat some humble pie (which he totally deserved). His souffle was also judged delicious and he was safe.  So all 4 survived and nobody was going home. The reason was exceptional souffles from each of the Blue team members.   

Offline apskip

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2011, 10:25:18 AM »
MC2, Ep. 15

We were down to 8 home cooks. A Mystery box challenge started this episode off. The judges were looking for new levels of creativity and technique to create taste, texture and appearance. Proteins were revealed and they can be combined with anything from the pantry(first time that was allowed in any Mystery Box Challenge). There were short ribs, porterhouse steak, apparently (although not shown) bison steaks, rib-eye, NY strip steak, crayfish, large prawns and Alaskan king crab legs. The time was only 45 minutes, so the cooks got right to making stocks, broths and sauces while the proteins were cooking. The final dishes complete were (but only the top 3 were:

Adrien – beer basted short ribs and crab salad
Ben – not shown
Christian – orange carrot ginger emulsion and potatoes (huh?, no protein?; this is risky)
Christine – not shown
Derrick – crab salad and Porterhouse steak
Jennifer – risotto w/ crabmeat and shrimp stock, crab and short ribs
Suzy – shrimp bisque and bison w/ pan gravy
Tracy – not shown

The 3 chosen dishes were those of Adrien, Suzy and Jennifer. Christian was pissed, but he was told that his dish was underwhelming, particularly his use of simple potatoes. Adrien had hope of victory when the judges stated that it was a third time victory, but that also applied to Jennifer and she earned the win with a dish that blew the judges away. Christian was ordered to come up and taste Jennifer’s dish so that he was exposed to something excellent. He said he had tasted better risotto before and Ramsay flatly told him to adjust his attitude.

Jennifer got the advantage of seeing the judges in pictures taken as children and picking one of the childhood memory favorite foods. Joe had focaccia bread pizza with tomato sauce, Grant had macaroni and cheese and Gordon had tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. Gordon’s favorite dish was the selection of Jennifer for all the cooks to make in 45 minutes, a time limit making flavorful soup very difficult to pull off.

The dishes presented (with the word sandwich left off after “cheese”) were:
Adrien – Crazy tomato soup, grilled Blue Cheese and goat cheese, foie gras on bread
Ben – roasted tomato soup and grilled cheese; Ben thought his soup was terrible as he served it but he had no choice
Christian – lobster and tomato soup, grilled cheese, foie gras, prosciutto
Christine – black bean tomato soup (high acidity due to vinegar), grilled provolone and goat cheese
Derrick – gorgonzola tomato soup, grilled Gorgonzola cheese
Jennifer – heirloom and plum tomato soup w/ lobster
Suzy – heirloom tomato soup w/ bourbon, bacon, roasted red pepper and 3G grilled cheeses: Gruyere, goat, Gouda
Tracy – Mediterranean style tomato soup w/ pancetta + grilled Fontina cheese

The winners were Tracy and Suzy. The worst dishes were Ben, Derrick and Christine. How would this get resolved? Ben made his admission of major sin of getting the wrong flavor to his soup and he was sent back to the group. Christine was told that her time was up.
Suspense was thick as the verdict for Derrick awaited. It was elimination, bringing the total left in this competition to 6 cooks.

Offline apskip

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #29 on: August 09, 2011, 02:51:33 PM »
MC2, Ep. 16

This episode opened in the Los Angeles restaurant Patina, which is run by Executive Chef Tony Esnault and overseen by Master Chef Joachim Splichal. It has French cuisine focus and has earned one Michelin star. The 6 cooks remaining will run its kitchen and produce a limited list of its special dishes. Joe Bastianich would help as Front of the House and Gordon Ramsay would be the expeditor relaying orders from a group of 50 special customers of the restaurant, half of whom would dine Blue and half Red. A key factor in the evaluation of which team won or lost was feedback from those diners but maybe more important was the feedback from Splichal and Esnault, who dined in a special room. The objective was to match the way Patina routinely cooks these dishes:

lily risotto with edible flowers and black garlic oil
marinated hamachi w/ green apple mustard, avocado and crostini
pan-seared scallops w/ cauliflower, crostini, capers
prime beef tenderloin w/ short ribs, carrots

The teams chosen by captains were:
Blue – Tracy chose Adrien and Jennifer
Red – Suzy chose Ben and was left with Christian, whom she stated she would have picked 

The meal began with Ramsay knowing that none of these cooks had ever worked in a restaurant kitchen before. Ramsay pointed out that cooking risotto will take about 21 minutes, so if anyone screws it up their customers will have to wait that much extra to get their meal. Tracy put herself on the risotto and assigned beef to Adrien and scallops to Jennifer. Suzy assigned Christian the risotto and hamachi to Ben, leaving scallops for herself.

Ramsay implored for each team to communicate internally and work as a team to get the dishes out properly. Customer feedback was mixed. Splichal and Esnault rated each individual dish from each team and their feedback went to the 3 Master Chef creators. Ramsay, Bowles and Bastianich made the final decision.  That decision was a Red victory, which put Tracy, Adrien and Jennifer into a Pressure Test.
That pressure test would be easy for any fish chef, but was extremely difficult for home cooks. It was to scale, fillet, portion and cook one of at least 10 portions of a King salmon in 45 minutes. The raw fish looked marvelous. Ramsay warned that the proper way to cook it was to leave the skin on, cook it for several minutes with that side down and finish by cooking the other side down for the final 2 minutes.  Scaling started, with Adrien still at it 20 minutes into this competition. Tracy and Jennifer seemed to do that much better and certainly much faster. The filleting was a huge challenge for anyone not used to doing it; none of them were. Jennifer worked very cleanly and left little meat on the strip of bones and she took off the tail. Adrien was not as clean but he got it done. Tracy was overwhelmed by the filleting and had a huge amount of waste with meat left on the bones and she failed to take the tail off it. Portioning appeared to be about even between each competitor, but Tracy started much later than the other two. Jennifer and Adrien started cooking their selected portion well before Tracy, who did not start until 5 minutes left. She quickly discovered that the portion she had chosen was too thick to cook properly, but it was late to do an alternative piece. She knew that her piece was going to end up undercooked for the desired medium rare. Adrien took off the skin and got much more even cooking, but he ended up with an overcooked piece. Only Jennifer appeared to get it right. 

The judging was quick and easy. The judges asked the competitors to demonstrate their final bone structure and the low waste on Jennifer’s, slightly more waste on Adrien’s and high waste on Tracy’s was obvious. Jennifer was excused. Tracy was sent home, although Gordon did offer her a free one year in the Master Chef cooking training program, for which they clearly wanted to get in a plug, to encourage her continued culinary career. She also received an offer from all 3 of the judges that after that program she was welcome to work in their restaurants.

Offline apskip

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #30 on: August 10, 2011, 10:32:11 AM »
MC2, Ep. 17

There are 5 cooks left in this competition and the challenges get harder. This episode started with any Mystery Box Challenge. The ingredients were ground beef, ground veal and ground pork, corn (on the cob), celery, bell peppers, butter, carrots, potatoes, rice Worcestershire sauce, cheese. The cooks have 60 minutes to create a stunning dish. Ben immediately thinks those ingredients were just right for Shepherd’s pie and remembers that he had promised Ramsay at the beginning that he would cook him something British. This may be the last opportunity. The others decide on:
Christian – chili (which Suzy says takes too long)
Suzy – Shepherd’s pie
Jennifer – meatloaf
Adrien – 3 different meatballs in 3 different sauces
The cooking proceeded with the judges closely monitoring what was happening, because they would have to choose the top 3 dishes to taste based on what they saw. Those chosen were those of:
Jennifer – meatloaf with bell pepper and other vegetable bits integrated, homemade ketchup, roasted corn
Adrien – beef meatball w/ carrots, celery, potatoes, mushrooms in yellow pepper picadillo sauce, veal meatball w/parsley and parmesan sauce, an unknown third meatball w/ a red sauce
Ben – Shepherd’s pie with inner layer of ground veal, celery, carrots, onions sauteed in butter and outer layer of garlic mashed potatoes, red wine reduction and Worcestershire sauce

On tasting, Adrien’s dish was far too salty so he was effectively out. It was Jennifer vs. Ben and Ben won his first Mystery Box Challenge. That gave him a special advantage, which was to choose from 3 signature dishes for a world famous chef (the one and only Gordon Ramsay). Those were pan-roasted filet of halibut with crab, new potatoes and basil vinaigrette; roasted duck breast with honey-glazed baby onions, minted peas, and Madeira sauce; roasted loin of venison set on a bed of braised red cabbage and a red wine sauce. Ben chose Ramsay’s venison dish because he believed he had more experience cooking venison than any of the other cooks. Ben was then given a basket of the correct amount of the 5 primary ingredients for that dish (venison, parsnips, red cabbage, mushrooms, Madeira red wine for the sauce). He was also given the unique opportunity to ask Ramsay 3 questions to help him decide cooking methods. Here is where Ben squandered some of his advantage, as he failed to ask the most important question, which was how long and at what temperature should the venison be slow-cooked before final cooking. Ben did ask about how the parsnip puree was made (small amount of milk blended in, the finishing with cream). The third is about searing, which Ramsay replied was done with being warmed (effectively light poaching) in butter first, then seared at the end.

The other cooks were given an opportunity only to taste the dish and from that they had to select 5 ingredients and discern cooking methods. They then had 90 minutes to prep and cook. Here was the feedback given to each one after tasting their dish:
Ben – venison way overcooked (Joe said it should have been at 140 degrees and Ben did it at 200 degrees); parsnip puree broken; Ben knew he had totally squandered his advantage
Christian – parsnip puree broken; too much pepper used to season; meat not the hero of the dish
Adrien – venison cooked with butter in a pan, which gave the wrong results; “all over the place”
Jennifer – her dish was a disappointment on flavor
Suzy – by far the best, even though she had never cooked venison before; got the balances right

So, Suzy was quickly off the hook. Jennifer and Christian were placed in the same grouping and let off the hook after some drama. That left Ben and Adrien. Ben was eliminated.

Offline captjoe06

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Re: Master Chef 2 Christian Collins In Gloucester Video and Pictures
« Reply #31 on: August 11, 2011, 03:35:18 PM »
Here's A Video and Picture Of Gloucester's Christian Collins Competing In A Seafood Throwdown at The Cape Ann Farmer's Market-

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #32 on: August 12, 2011, 11:05:56 PM »
Thanks for the link and article captjoe. It helps me to have a better understanding of Christian. He could well win this season.
The choices we make dictate the life we lead.

Offline apskip

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #33 on: August 14, 2011, 11:59:41 AM »
There are just 2 more episodes of Master Chef 2, so I expect the first will eliminate one more cook before the 2 hour finale starting at 8pm EDT Tuesday with 3 go head-to-head.

It's time to make a fearless forecast. I think the one eliminated with be Jennifer, which will leave Christian, Adrien and Suzy in the finale. Christian has a lot of talent but he makes mistakes. Suzy is lucky to be there. The only one who was consistent throughout was Adrien, who is my pick to win in it.

Please note that if you have been depending on full episode videos from FOX, those will only be available after an 8 day delay after today as a result of a special exclusive deal the DISH Network cut with FOX.

Offline apskip

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #34 on: August 16, 2011, 07:40:46 AM »
MC2, Ep. 18

This started with Suzy picking her teammate. She decided on Christian for a battle against Jennifer and Adrien. A wide array of proteins and other ingredients was available. Jennifer and Adrien selected Maine lobster and California spot prawns as their proteins and came up with these dishes to accompany them:
Roasted corn
Coulis w/blood orange, roasted red pepper, ginger and chipotle
Sweet potatoes

Suzy and Christian went with duck to simulate Thanksgiving dinner with these accompaniments:
Sauce based on a raspberry coulis

The teams had 90 minutes to cook their dishes. For judging this special event Ramsay imported judges from the Master Chef versions in France, Israel and India
Sebastian Demorand
Michal Ansky, food critic
Kopal Kapoor 

Christian was told by Joe Bastianich that his team’s dishes were “disrespectful” to the foreign judges, which I think is absurd. What’s not OK about a tasty Thanksgiving dinner? Christian responded that duck was Suzy’s idea and that he would have used lobster instead. The foreign judges appeared to be unsatisfied, but Joe and Gordon were vociferous that the Christian/Suzy team had no teamwork (which you expect whenever Christian is on a team).

The Adrien/Jennifer team also did not knock it out of the park. Adrien had forgotten to clean at least two prawns. However, the foreign judges gave the win unanimously to Adrien and Jennifer.

That put Christian and Suzy into the ultimate Pressure test for 90 minutes. That turned out be lemon meringue pie. Suzy’s dessert experience would give her the edge going into this. Christian as a seafood cook did not have much desserts experience, so this was recognized as being more of a challenge for him.

The components of this pie are the filling (lemon curd), crust and meringue.  Here were the stated results:
Gordon – Suzy’s was delicious but light on meringue, dough undercooked
Graham – her filling great, but not enough meringue, dough undercooked
Joe – her meringue flavorless, dough undercooked

Graham – Christian’s filling broke and separated
Gordon – his texture was broken, his sugar was not properly incorporated into the meringue
Joe – pastry rich, meringue not good enough
The judges all agree that Christian’s pie looks better than it tastes and Suzy’s tastes better than it looks.

So who would you think won? I thought it would go to Suzy because she had a better overall pie. However, the judges had a different interpretation of the above stated results. They gave the win to Christian and eliminated Suzy. How could that be? I can’t explain it except for the judges making a correction for higher difficulty for Christian based on his prior limited dessert experience and an effective penalty to Suzy’s greater experience.  Another possible explanation is that in past episodes the judges have been carrying Suzy by judging her above what she really earned and that they just cannot stomach allowing her to go to the finals and leave Christian (a technically better cook) behind.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2011, 09:07:44 AM by apskip »

Offline cinni

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #35 on: August 16, 2011, 08:14:39 PM »
They oopsed big time last night here and started showing the finale. They got as far as to introduce the final 2. Won't post it here as to not spoil all the hard work here. PM me if you want to know.

always remember....when life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt and call me over!

Offline apskip

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #36 on: August 17, 2011, 09:04:56 AM »
MC2, Semifinals

Only Adrien, Jennifer and Christian remained. Ramsay summarized past performance by stating that Jennifer had won 3, Adrien 2 and Christian 1 Mystery Box Challenges. It was time for another Mystery Box Challenge except that the contents were revealed to be a whole chicken. Each had 60 minutes to wow the judges, whose expectations were incredibly high. Jennifer decided on bacon-wrapped chicken, jalapeno w/ onions, apple/bacon stuffing and potatoes. Adrien went with braised thighs, squash puree herbs and asparagus on rice. Christian had bacon wrapped chicken in French onion sauce w/ carrot puree, peas, purple cauliflower, sage, rosemary and thyme. Christian had asked during cooking time if he could get a small amount of flour from Jennifer. She declined, saying she needed it for her fresh pasta.

The judges decided that Jennifer’s dish was the weakest and Adrien’s the winner. That gave him the usual big advantage for the Elimination Test. All 3 were brought into the back area and show Joe Bastianich’s favorite ingredients, which were octopus, veal and mushrooms. Christian expected to get octopus as he is a seafood chef. What he did not know is that Adrien, picking first, had experience from a young age cooking octopus. Christian also was surprised when, after he picked veal and forced Jennifer to use mushrooms, she explained that she had grown up near Kennett Square PA, the mushroom capital of the world. There was 10 minutes to shop in the pantry and then 90 minutes to cook.  Here were their dishes:

Christian – mashed potatoes, vegetable medley, braised veal shanks that had to be finished in a pressure cooker
Adrien – octopus in black bean/ black garlic puree, rice, chilis, watercress
Jennifer – mushrooms and egg yolk over 3 fresh-made ravioli (a switch from her original choice of pappardelle)

Suzy got the winning line of the episode was “the 1980s want their dish back” in reference to Christian’s choices. Joe replated Christian’s dish for him, declaring it improved. Ramsay said to both Christian and Adrien that theirs were not their best dish. To Jennifer they said really well done. The first pick of the judges to advance was Adrien. The second was Jennifer, which meant Christian was eliminated. He was defiant and nasty to the end.

Offline apskip

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Re: Master Chef 2
« Reply #37 on: August 17, 2011, 09:06:25 AM »
MC2 Finale

It came down to Adrien versus Jennifer. The voiceover announcer called it as 3 dishes, 2 hours and 1 winner. They had 10 minutes to load up shopping carts of whatever they thought they might need. They could return for kitchen equipment but not for ingredients.

The dishes created were:
Jennifer appetizer – pan-seared scallop w/ egg, creamed corn, English pea puree
Adrien appetizer – prawns w/ jicama, microgreens, salsa

Jennifer entrée – quail w/ jalapeno, stuffing, creamy potatoes
Adrien entrée – pan-seared short ribs, mole, chipotle, cauliflower/parsnip puree, rainbow chard

Jennifer dessert – moscato braised pears, poached apples, crème anglaise, mascarpone, lemon zest
Adrien dessert – flourless chocolate torte w/ blood orange and passion fruit sauces, mole, powdered cocoa

So that was it. Each dish was explained and the judges had some comments. Perhaps the most telling were Ramsay stating that he could not taste the prawns in Adrien’s appetizer and that Adrien’s cake was too dry. He and Joe both chided Jennifer for not removing the abductor muscle from a scallop.  My inference from the commentary was that Jennifer was a clear winner of the appetizer course, they were in a positive dead heat for the entrée course and they both underperformed on the dessert course to negate each other there. That would make Jennifer the winner if I was correct.

I was. Jennifer did win the $250,000 and the title, plus no doubt the opportunity during the next year to travel as a spokesperson like Master Chef 1 winner Whitney Miller. She really earned it, as my impression was the competition was much stiffer in MC2.