I'll say this for MasterChef
: it certainly knows how to raise its fresh Wal-Mart stakes.
Rather than artificially escalating the team challenge by making the contestants prepare dozens of plates -- I half expected to see our top four aboard a viking warship this time -- MasterChef wisely eschews spectacle for substance this week, inviting three guest judges to share a table with Gordon, Graham and Joe.
These guests include Gordon's Parisian mentor Guy Savoy, New York icon Daniel Boulud, and the highly decorated Alain Ducasse. The judges are the only audience this week, ensuring that only the most skillful chefs survive.
As winner of last week's challenge, Christine is allowed to pick her partner. She chooses Becky, leaving the still-feuding Frank and Josh to team up. Frank appears to resignedly accept the partnership, while Josh wastes no time reminding everyone that, in his totally unbiased opinion, he should have been saved over Frank.
Both teams are tasked with prepping a masterful appetizer, entree and desert. Christine and Becky prepare an Asian-inspired suite, while Josh and Frank prepare a gelatin-based veggie mix, a white chocolate mouse, and an ambitious meat and fruit platter for their main course. Both teams struggle with plating consistency, as the ladies omit a rice cake from one of their plates and the gentlemen's desert looks like, to quote the judges, an "argument on a plate." Though Frank and Josh earn raves for their entree, their struggles with the rest of their meal allow Christine and Becky to take the round.
As the female team heads upstairs, Josh and Frank are assigned three separate souffles for their pressure test, each prepared to a specific judge's tastes: Cheese for Gordon, Raspberry for Joe and Dark Chocolate for Graham. Both men manage to finish the extremely challenging test on time and in good shape, but only one can make it to the top three: though Gordon prefers Frank's cheese souffle, the other two throw their support behind Josh -- Frank goes home.
I have mixed feelings about Frank's departure -- or, more accurately, Josh's survival. There's no question that Josh is a hard worker with great instincts and a ton of talent, but much of his screentime has been dedicated to smack talk, ego stroking and, honestly, general bad sportsmanship. There's a sense in which this result appears to be justice for Frank's immunity snub, but as many commenters have pointed out, Josh would never even consider extending an advantage to one of his competitors.
It remains to be seen whether Josh's early elimination and return will pay off in a comeback/redemption arc, or if he too will fall victim to MasterChef justice.
(Image courtesy of FOX)