On this episode of MasterChef Junior, “When Life Gives You Lemons,” the remaining 14 home cooks put an upscale twist on a favorite beverage. A retro-themed challenge has seven young chefs struggling to stay in the competition.
It is December, not exactly the time of year you crave a tall, cool glass of lemonade. I’d say a cocoa challenge is more in order. But the top 14’s first task is to create a yummy lemonade. The kids are split into two teams of seven: Jesse, Kya, Kamilly, Sam, Ian, Avery and JJ (Red Team) vs Addison, Corey, Mia, Zac, Tae-Ho, Amaya and Kaitlyn (Blue Team).
Victory is Sweet
Each team has seven minutes to make a full drink dispenser of raspberry-mint lemonade. Christina will do a blind taste test and decide which team’s lemonade she likes the best. The winning team will be safe from elimination. The losing team will get drenched by a huge water balloon full of the sticky, tart beverage.
There are no team captains, but Sam steps up and takes charge of assigning tasks for the Red Team, while the Blue Team struggles to get organized.
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As the challenge gets underway, it’s obvious this isn’t your basic lemonade-stand fare. The cooks have to juice lemons, mash raspberries and create a simple syrup (a mix of sugar and water). Christina is looking for the balance of lemon to raspberry to mint to sugar because everything needs to be in harmony to make an upscale lemonade from scratch.
The teams each stand in an empty kiddie pool, waiting to hear Christina’s verdict on their final products. In the end, the Red Team strikes just the right balance of flavors and are declared the winners, and the Blue Team gets a cold shower. It turns out the Red Team doesn’t get off the hook. Before heading up to the balcony to watch the elimination challenge, their balloon pops as well, much to the delight of their competitors and the judges.
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The Cooks Put a Modern Twist On an 80s Favorite
Gordon emerges dressed like a hippie, complete with a headband of daisies and long, golden locks. Graham appears dressed as John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. He even throws in some disco moves for good measure. Christina comes rolling in on roller skates dressed in spandex from head to toe and sporting leg warmers. The poor woman bites it but recovers nicely.
All three judges are dressed to represent the decades they were born: the 60s, 70s and 80s. They share a dish which enjoyed immense popularity during its respective decade: Duck a l’Orange (60s), Chicken Kiev (70s) and Surf and Turf (lobster and filet Mignon).
The kids are super excited and are relieved to see Christina’s dish because they at least recognize the basic components. Of the three dishes, the young cooks learn they will be creating their own versions of Christina’s Surf and Turf.
After 60 minutes, the cooks present their dishes.
Addison: Steak Diane with grilled asparagus and a stuffed lobster shell. Gordon thinks the steak is cooked perfectly, and the lobster is delicious. Once again, a victory for Addison.
Tae Ho: Filet mignon topped with chunks of lobster and a sriracha-mayo-lemon sauce (chili sauce) served on a bed of cauliflower and spinach mash. Tae-Ho is pretty confident when he presents his dish, but Gordon deflates the young chef’s ego pretty quickly. Gordon says if Tae-Ho worked in one of his kitchens, he’d be fired. Apparently, putting a store-bought sriracha sauce with mayo and then dousing it over lobster and a prime cut of beef is a big no-no. The steak is also overcooked, and spinach and cauliflower puree is not an ideal combo.
Zac: Pan-seared filet with a boiled and then basted lobster tail with a parsnip puree served with fondant potatoes. Poor Zac suffered a nasty burn but still delivered a great dish. Christina praises the seasoning and says both proteins are cooked perfectly.
Amaya: Filet Mignon and lobster with creamed rice and her special, secret garlic sauce. Her filet is underdone, but Graham thinks the lobster is great. He does suggest she tone down the sauce in the future.
Mia: Steak au Poivre with creamed Brussels sprouts and a boiled lobster with a lemon-clarified butter.
Mia is the vegetarian in the group, and it seems to have put her at a disadvantage. Her lobster is so under-cooked, Gordon won’t even taste it. The filet has a nice sear on the outside but is too rare. The only part of her dish Gordon likes are the veggies.
Kaitlyn: Lobster cooked in a buerre blanc sauce and filet drizzled with balsamic drizzle, Parmesan-roasted potatoes and fried baby brussel sprouts.
Graham says that the filet has great flavor and is perfectly cooked. He’s proud of how well Kaitlyn nailed the technique involved with this dish. Christina says the buerre blanc sauce is one of the best she’s ever tasted.
Corey: NY Strip with a red wine sauce on a bed of asparagus and lobster with a creole sauce
Graham isn’t pleased with the cook of the steak, and as one of the stars of the dish, that’s disappointing. The lobster is so salty that it overwhelms the taste of the crustacean. Graham praises the concept, but the execution just isn’t there. He encourages Corey to taste his dishes before serving them.
There Can Only Be One Winner
It’s no big surprise when Graham announces Kaitlyn is the winner. All three judges feel her dish is good enough to be served in any of their restaurants.
The bottom three are Corey, Mia and Tae-Ho. In the end, Tae-Ho and Mia are sent home.
MasterChef Junior airs Fridays at 8pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)