At this point in the season, the five remaining MasterChef hopefuls have pretty well-defined personal styles: Frank does Italian, Becky does cute, Monti does Wholesome, Christine does Vietnamese, and Josh does Southern. This week's MasterChef upends those conventions, however, as each contender is essentially forced to adopt the culinary personality of two other people: first, one of their competitors, and then one of their judges.
Take this week's uniquely devious mystery box, for example: the top five are allowed to select their own perfect fifteen ingredients, but are then forced to shuffle their ingredients to another chef. The results throw nearly everyone off-balance, but they largely manage to rise to the challenge anyway.
Josh leads the tasting with a savory bread pudding forged from Frank's meaty Italian components -- it's a bold, flavorful choice they pays off in universal acclaim. Monti follows with a non-traditional Tom Kha Gai, and Christine rounds out the top three with a pan-seared chicken.
Being Graham Elliot
Josh is crowned winner of the challenge, and is therefore allowed to choose the elimination round entree. He gets to pick from three Graham Elliot dishes notably prepared for celebrities: sweet corn bisque favored by Oprah, Alaskan king crab once prepared for Jay-Z, and white tuna sashimi served to President Barack Obama. He opts for the Obama sashimi.
Duplicating Graham's presidential dish turns out to be -- surprise -- extremely difficult. Christine is the only contestant to garner overt praise for her offering: Monti and Becky fail to match Graham's precise balance of flavors, while Josh botches the presentation and misguidedly attempts to improve the sashimi with mango. Together, they comprise the bottom three.
In spite of the constant reminders that every dish counts, MasterChef has almost always weighed long term viability over immediate presentation. Though Josh's uneven sashimi could have easily ended a lesser cook's MasterChef career, he and Becky are top tier competitors too crucial be sent home just yet--that leaves Monti for elimination. She's a good sport about it, leaving the competition with confidence and gratitude.
Though Monti was a TV producer's dream contestant--loud personality, frequent jokes, willingness to express shock and enthusiasm for basically everything that happens -- she was definitely a notch below her four remaining MasterChef contemporaries. With Frank, Christine, Josh and Becky in the top four, we've finally reached a point where literally anyone could be going home.
Ted KindigContributing Writer(Image courtesy of FOX)