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MC4, Ep. 2

First up for the night is Bime (35) from Taunton, MA served Mofongo De Camarones, plaintains with shrimp. Ramsay had Bime taste it. Graham asks if Bime will be willing not to see his kids for weeks. Bime responded that it is all for them. Joe says it is a serious competition. Afterwards, Graham says the dish had a lot of flavor. Joe says he was not sure if his dish was fake Filipino cuisine and voted no. Ramsay says there is heart in his dish. Ramsay says he is not going to see his girls for a while. He gets an apron.

Jessie (27) from Social Circle GA is a Yacht Stewardess served Sea Bass En Croute with Beurre Blanc Sauce. Ramsay says the pastry is nice. Ramsay didn’t like the age of the dish. Graham liked the dish. Joe says she has a lot going on in the dish. Afterwards, Joe says it is too much and said no. Graham says she has shown technique. Ramsay went out and brought back two fish to prove she is the real deal. He fileted a fish and she copied his technique (no pressure!) to demonstrate that she is the real deal. Ramsay gave her an apron.

After a group of home cooks who come out with a unique style of flare and only one getting an apron, James (26) from Victoria TX is a Retail Salesman. He served Crispy Pork Belly with Lentil Hash. Graham rated it good and creative. Ramsay said it is interesting. Joe says he doesn’t see the fight in him. Afterwards, Graham said the ability to cook the dish so quickly was great. Joe says he doesn’t see the passion in him. He says no. Ramsay asks what he has they haven’t seen. James says he knows he can do better. Ramsay says the competition is going to eat him alive. Ramsay is undecided. When James comes out, he shows he has an apron.

A few cooks come out and made the judges laugh and smile. They even try to flirt with the judges. However, their dishes were not up to par. The next home cook was Sasha (42) from Tuscaloosa AL, a singer with the passion to cook. She serves Southern Fried Chicken and Crepes with an Orange Bourbon Maple Glaze. Graham liked the taste. Joe said it is a lot of chicken and she is a lot of woman. Ramsay says he loved the chicken, but not the crepes. Afterwards, Ramsay says it was great and says it is a yes from him. Graham says it is a yes. Joe says it is a yes from him as well. She gets an apron.

Up next is Rudy (35) from San Diego CA, an Archaeologist. He says 75% of his body was burned in a big California fire in his neighborhood. He said he loves to cook and served Fry Bread Taco with Buffalo Meat. Ramsay said the buffalo is slightly dry. Graham was interested. Joe tasted it with no comment. Afterwards, Ramsay says he cooks with confidence. Joe said his story is compelling, but his cooking is not. Graham says the dish may not be refined, but there was a depth of flavor so he voted yes. Ramsay says he is very inspirational; they have to judge him on what he has done. Ramsay voted no.

After a few more home cooks get rejected, next up is Eddie (32) from Americus GA. He is a personal trainer. He says he was in the NFL in the past. He comes out and tossed a football to Graham. He says he broke his wrist and hurt his knee. He serves Jerk Meatloaf with Ginger and Coconut Sweet Potato Mash. Ramsay said there is something intriguing. Graham said it needed some seasoning. Joe liked the heat of the dish. Afterwards, Joe liked how it is personal and voted yes. Graham says it was sloppy and says no. Ramsay says it didn’t need to be fancy. He gives him an apron and tells him to get serious with the game.

The final home cook is Luca (31) from Astoria NY. He is a Restaurant Manager. He was on the show last year, but was unable to make it through. He says he was sad when he didn’t get the apron, but he is better now. He came out and they remembered him. He says he knew he didn’t make the best last time and he has improved. He serves Broccoli Rabe Ravioli with Pecorino Cream Sauce. Joe says if he would have won last year, they could have been partners. Graham said it passed the ratio of filling to pasta. Ramsay asked him to rate his dish. Luca said it is a 6.5. Afterwards, Joe says there are some issues, but he wants to see him compete. He voted yes. Graham said the sauce ruined the dish and voted no. Ramsay stated that Luca is not going back to work because he was in the next round.

MC4, Ep. 3

This episode started with a few stray contestants whose stories did not fit into the prior episode. Howard did a Bourbon Peach Blackberry Cobbler with a crumble topping made with Graham crackers and Panko bread crumbs, heavy on the bourbon. Joe joined Howard in a trip outside the arena to where Howard’s grandmother awaited and gave Howard’s apron to the grandmother. The last contestant was Jimmy with a highly original creation of lobster, popcorn, cashews, coconut and caramel. He earned the final apron.

The episode moved on to the featured availability of all cuts of lamb (meaning anything possible from a sheep) plus all the ingredients from the huge Master Chef 4 kitchen. The competitors had 60 minutes to create a lamb recipe, gather ingredients and cook. The judges believed that alacrity in getting started cooking would be critical. In a surprise move, several home cooks were eliminated by Joe Bastianich due to observed sins of commission after about 45 minutes. Those remaining were grouped into 3 groups by the judges. One group already impressed the judges enough to move straight into the Master Chef Kitchen. A second group was sent home and a third group were paired to compete for spots. The last two left were Beth cooking a Lavender Hay Roasted Loin of lamb with sweetbreads and Luca with a Lamb Loin Roulade filled with sweetbreads. Both were retained in the Master Chef kitchen for the next round. The top three dishes came from boxing coach Bime for his beautifully poached egg over hash with gremolata, Natasha with a lemon pie tart with bacon grease ganache and meringue and Krissie with a potato frittata with tomato basil salad. The San Diego contingent of 4 home cooks had these dishes:
Lynn - lamb loin, pea purée, pea-and-tomato salad and pickled red onion
Natasha - lamb brain tortellini with saffron emulsion and roasted heirloom tomatoes
Howard - lamb frittata with cranberry lime relish
Savannah - lamb loin chop with saffron risotto and artichoke tomato salad

Natasha won this first “real” challenge over Bime and Krissi and was invited to pick the ingredient that the rest would have to all use in the elimination challenge. She chose langoustine over first cut veal chops and stilton blue cheese. She was also exempt from cooking and chose Savannah to join her for this.

The usual episode commentary for any Gordon Ramsay reality TV show includes a too-heavy dose of trash talking and bull**** flying about. The judges foment this by asking “Who is going to be eliminated?” or “Who do you think will win?” Many petty personality conflicts emerge. Ramsay, Bastianich and Bowles state they “it’s only what’s on the plate that matters”, but what’s on the telecasts tell a very different tale.

MC4, Ep. 4

The new format for challenge uses a common Pantry Box containing eggs, bacon, flour, sugar, vanilla bean, herbs and spices, all of which would be used for dishes as  needed. The first Mystery Box Challenge had bacon, one tomato, a handful of chocolate and a russet potato tasking the cooks to create with the basics.

About 30% of the dishes (those of Adriana, Bri, Bime, Jonny, Beth, Eddie, James) were not featured on the telecast of this episode. Krissi’s dish was langoustine mac and cheese. Sasha did Langoustine Cheese Grits. Here are the rest of the langoustine dishes:
Bethy – with gnocchi and bread
Howard – poached with spinach citrus/ mango salad
Malcolm – stuffed tail over pasta
Jordan – bisque of fingerling potato, tomato, cream sauce
Lynn – poached with coconut, pine nuts and lime beurre blanc sauce
Kathy – boiled, avocado, beets, crispy skins
Luca – saffron, over fettucine, with lavender and garlic
Jessie – fried tempura with shiitake mushrooms and swiss chard

The judges reserved their highest praise for Jessie and Jordan, who won the honor of being team captains for next week’s challenge. The loser of the week initially looked like Howard, for an underwhelming, bland spinach mango salad, or Malcolm with his uninspired pasta, but Sasha’s dish showed no skill or redeeming value at all and this earned her the only elimination this episode.

With the final decisions made, these 18 home cooks were moving forward to the next round:
Lynn Chyi, a 27-year-old IT systems administrator from San Diego
Natasha Crnjac, a 26-year-old stay-at-home mother from San Diego
Howard Simpson, a 26-year-old barback from San Diego
Savannah Sturgess, a 27-year-old special-education teacher from San Diego
Krissi Biasiello, 34, paralegal from Philadelphia PA
Jonny Blanchard, 28, carpenter from Marlboro MA
Bime Cruz, 35, boxing coach from Taunton MA
Sasha Foxx, 42, a singer from Tuscaloosa AL
Malcolm Green, 27, unemployed in Cambridge MA
Adriana Guillen, 26, college admissions representative from New York NY
Eddie Jackson, 32, personal trainer from Americus GA
Beth Kirby, 29, writer/photographer from Chattanooga TN
Bri Kozior, 22, theater assistant from Doylestown PA
Jessie Lysiak, 27, yacht stewardess from Social Circle GA
Luca Manfe, 31, restaurant manager from Astoria NY
James Nelson, 26, in retail sales in Victoria TX
Kathy Prieto, 29, an office Assistant from Bronx NY
Jordan Roots, 29, a delivery driver from Minneapolis MN
Bethy Rossos, 28, a high school physical education teacher from Estacada OR

MC4, Ep. 5

The Team Challenge task was to work together to feed over 300 elementary school children. As Jessie and Jordan produced the two best dishes in the prior elimination challenge, they became Team Captains for this challenge. On her Red Team Jessie picked Lynn, Bethy, Beth, Bime, Natasha, Bri, Luca and Malcolm. For the Blue Team Jordan picked: Savannah, James, Eddie, Jonny, Krissi, Adriana, Howard and Kathy. Each team was assigned to create one entree and one dessert. The meal had to  contain a protein, a starch, a vegetable and a fruit. The blue team swiftly decided on their menu of Pasta with Turkey Meatballs and Green Bean Salad and an Apple Crisp for dessert. The red team, on the other hand, took their time developing their menu of Chicken Teriyaki with Rice and Corn Entree and a Strawberry Crumble for dessert. Despite their initial quick decisions, the blue team realized that they would have to make 600 meatballs and changed their menu halfway through prep time, instead making a meat sauce to go with the pasta. The red team also came across difficulties during prep due to their overly salty teriyaki sauce.  They managed to salvage the sauce by sweetening it up. In the end, the Red Team scored 58% of the votes for the win. Luca, Lynn, Natasha, Jessie, Beth, Bethy, Bime and Bri were the winning team.

The blue team as losers of the Team Challenge faced the dreaded pressure test. The judges tested the contestants baking abilities by having them create a delicious Cheesecake in 90 minutes. Gordon revealed to Team Captain Jordan that he could excuse any 3 of his team members, including himself, from the pressure test to ensure their safety from elimination. He saved Howard, James and himself.  Here are what was created and presented:

Krissi - Cheesecake with a  Raspberry Compote and Raspberry Bombs
Kathy - Cheesecake with a  Blueberry-Blackberry Compote
Eddie - Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with a  Mixed Berry Compote
Krissi, Kathy and Eddie all managed to produce cheesecakes that granted them immediate safety from elimination.
Jonny - Pineapple Cheesecake w/ Coconut, Raspberry-Blood Orange Whipped Cream  Savannah - an overly sweet Salted Caramel Cheesecake with a Hazelnut-Almond Brittle Honey Whipped Cream; the judges agreed contained too much crust.
Adriana - a Guava Cheesecake topped with Mango and Shredded Coconut. The bottom 3 as evaluated by the judges were Jonny, Savannah and Adriana. The loser eliminated in this episode was Adriana for her poor choice in using guava paste.

MC4, Ep. 6

The first task was to cook for 60 minutes in a Mystery Box Challenge against “one of the world’s greatest master chefs.” That provided some good humor, as Gordon Ramsay was introduced in that capacity. The ingredients available were were black cod, black and white Sesame Seeds, shiitake mushrooms, baby beets, ginger, cauliflower, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, rice and miso paste plus of course those from the Pantry Box.

The judges singled out Howard for raw Black Cod, calling his meal "appalling". The top 3 consisted of James, who made a Pan Seared Crispy Black Cod with a Toasted Sesame and Cauliflower Puree and a Shiitake Mushroom Salad with a Miso Vinaigrette, Beth with Sesame Crusted Black Cod with Caramelized Beets and Cauliflower with a Miso Vinaigrette and Luca, Pan Seared Black Cod with Butter Sauteed Shiitake Mushrooms and Snap Peas with a Miso Glaze. The judges decided that Luca's dish excelled, notably his sauce, and he was crowned the winner of this episode's Mystery Box Challenge. Luca received several advantages. The theme was desserts and he could pick between 24 cookies, 12 cupcakes or layer cake. Luca picked cupcakes for all except himself (he was exempt and would watch the action). He also got the opportunity to go after a competitor by taking away their mixer. He chose to apply that restriction to Jordan, who had to do all mixing by hand. There were 90 minutes to create and bake.

The top 2 batch of cupcakes belonged to Bime with Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla and Milk Chocolate Whipped Frosting and Bethy, who astounded the judges by creating 3 different and tasty cupcakes:  1) Bananas Foster Cupcake with a Mascarpone-Cream Cheese Frosting and Homemade Caramel, 2)Raspberry Lime Cupcake with Lime Buttercream and 3) Almond Chocolate Cupcake with Hazelnut Liqueur. Bime and Bethy as a reward for their wins will become captains in the Team Challenge next episode. The bottom 3 batches of cupcakes belonged to Malcolm, who made a Buttermilk Cupcake with a Mascarpone-Cream Cheese Frosting and a Rum Banana Cream filling, which the judges found to have a displeasing taste; Kathy, who made Vanilla Cupcakes with some having a crushed peanut base and some having a chocolate peanut butter base; Jessie, who made two types of cupcakes, a Vanilla Bean Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Hazelnuts and a Chocolate Coffee Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting. The judges criticized the small appearance of her cupcakes as well as the dense texture of the cake itself.

The eliminee was Malcolm for showing no skill whatsoever in making cupcakes.


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