'MasterChef' Recap: How Many Tears Are Shed In the Final Challenges?
'MasterChef' Recap: How Many Tears Are Shed In the Final Challenges?
Christine Petralia
Christine Petralia
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
The top six contestants on season 8 of MasterChef are brought to tears before a challenge even starts in "Something Fishy." But it's those happy tears that drive the chefs to create some special dishes in a mystery box challenge. Still, two won't make it out of the elimination challenge. In "The Semi-Finals," the top four compete to make it into the finals and things get really heated.

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An Emotional Mystery Box Challenge

Being away from one's family is tough for all of the MasterChef contestants, but as they remain in the top six, they are the ones that have been kept away the longest. So of course, the judges play with their emotions by placing letters of encouragement written by loved ones in the mystery boxes. Their task is to create a MasterChef-worthy dish inspired by their family members. After five minutes in the pantry, the chefs head back to their stations to find their family members waiting for them.

Having their loved ones there must have really helped, as all of the dishes are pretty stunning. The top three are Eboni, Yachecia and Cate. Aaron tastes Eboni's herb-crusted lamb with gruyere, sweet potato fondant, Swiss chard and red wine reduction. He thinks it's cooked beautifully with a fresh flavor. Next up, Yachecia presents her white grape gazpacho with spicy grilled shrimp to Gordon who thinks it looks beautiful and tastes delicious and expensive. Lastly, Christina tastes Cate's chocolate and chili rubbed venison loin with chestnut puree, butternut squash and smoked cherry compote. Christina is blown away and says it tastes like perfection.

  • Cate is crowned the winner, and all the contestants say good-bye to their family members as the remaining five head into the elimination challenge.

A Salmon Countdown Challenge

Since Cate won the mystery box challenge, she gets to sit out the next challenge. But she also gets to determine how long each chef gets to cook their salmon dishes. At the start of 60 minutes, Cate sends Jason into the pantry to get to work. Next, Cate sends Eboni in at the 50-minute mark. Yachecia gets 40 minutes, while Dino gets 30. Finally, Cate give Jeff just 20 minutes to whip up a MasterChef-worthy salmon dish. She says it's because she knows how flustered and upset he can get, and hopes this will be the challenge that sends him home.

The dishes they cook are:

  • Jason: Vietnamese-inspired salmon with daikon and crab slaw
  • Eboni: Crispy skin salmon with bamboo rice, spinach and avocado remoulade
  • Yachecia: Sweet and hot salmon with braised Swiss chard, Tuscan white beans and citrus cream sauce
  • Dino: Squash wrapped salmon with fregula and crab stuff pepper
  • Jeff: Mediterranean salmon with cheese-tomato relish and fruit-cucumber gratin

Christina and Aaron really like Jason, Eboni and Dino's dishes. Yachecia and Jeff, however, don't fare so well. Gordon says Yachecia's dish not only looks disgusting, but tastes disgusting. He believes it's the worst dish he's tasted at this stage in the competition in MasterChef history. Yachecia, on the other hand, says she thinks the salmon is great. Jeff's short amount of time didn't help him. He tries to tell Gordon that he wanted his fish to be raw and sushi-like, but Gordon doesn't buy it.

In the end, Cate's strategy works, because both Jeff and Yachecia are sent home.

Three Final Battles

In yet another season 8 twist, the final four head into the semi-finals for another change. The judges explain that there will be three elimination challenges to determine which three of the four will head to the finale. All four will compete in the first challenge, with one winner going directly to the finale. The remaining three will cook in the second battle, with the winner of that challenge going to the finale. And the last and final battle will have just two contestants duking it out for that last spot in the finale.

All of the battles will incorporate all-purpose flour in the dishes. Christina reveals that the first challenge will be for the chefs to prepare three perfect profiteroles or cream puffs. They have just 45 minutes to get them just right.

Cate seems to struggle, and is the last contestant to get hers in the oven. This ends up costing her, as she's in tears when she presents her small, improperly filled profiteroles to Christina. Jason, Eboni and Dino all do a nice job, but each have one of their three cream puffs that is slightly off. In the end, the judges send Jason off to the finale.

The next battle is for Aaron to explain. He tasks the remaining three with whipping up a Latin-inspired molten lava cake. They have just 25 minutes, which really puts some pressure on Eboni, Dino and Cate. When time is up, unfortunately a tearful Dino has to present a practically liquid cake to Aaron. And Cate's cake is exploding before Gordon can dive into it. This means that Eboni's near perfect cake secures her a spot in the finale as well.

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The Final Battle

The final battle pits Dino against Cate and it's a tough one. Gordon tasks them with creating a MasterChef classic savory version of a tough dessert to master - cheese souffle. They have just 30 minutes to present not one, but three souffles for each of the judges to taste.

The judges get concerned about Cate's technique, while they also worry that Dino doesn't place his in the right spot of the oven. After the 30 minutes, the judges simultaneously try one of Dino's souffles and one of Cate's souffles. They all agree that Dino and Cate gave an extraordinary performance. As they discuss the souffles, they say that while Cate's looks better, hers is undercooked. And while Dino's tastes great, the presentation is a little off.

In the end, Dino gets to head to the finale, while Cate has to head home. She's not too surprised based on her performances in the final challenges. She tells the judges that she thinks Eboni is going to take home the MasterChef trophy.

The Top Three

Jason, Eboni and Dino are going to make for a very interesting season eight finale. I think each are very strong chefs, who have only gotten better and better throughout the season. Eboni really continues to surprise me. She really has taken all of the judges' advice and elevated each and every dish to get her in the finale. Jason's quirkiness and odd pairings also seem to wow the judges. And Dino just has a great knack and finesse to create classics with a twist.

I really hope Dino takes home that trophy, though I have a feeling that Cate is right and Eboni might win it all.

Are you surprised by the top three finalists? Do you think having three in the finale will be a better experience and more challenging? Did you like the final battle elimination? Who do you think will win MasterChef season 8? Let us know in the comments below.

MasterChef airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX. Want more news? Like BuddyTV's Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of FOX)