On this super-sized portion of MasterChef Junior, four home cooks find themselves competing against two of the judges, Christina’s mother pays a visit to the MasterChef kitchen to help out with a Mystery Box Challenge and the field of competitors is narrowed down to six.
After a two-week hiatus, the MasterChef Junior home cooks are back with not one, but two new episodes, “Hatching a Plan: Tag Team Time.” It’s down to the top 10, and after tonight, there will only be six.
Time to Get Cracking
The pressure may be on, but the fun and games continue. Graham, dressed in a chicken suit, leaves no doubt in even the most clueless competitor’s mind that this first challenge is going to be all about eggs.
Only four kids will compete in this challenge (in two teams of two) and they will be chosen not by drawing straws, but by cracking eggs … on Graham’s head. If the center of the egg is blue or red, the crack-er is in the game and gunning for a big advantage moving forward.
The teams are: Blue Team: Amaya and Kya and Red Team: Zac and Kamilly
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The competitors are tasked with constructing as many perfect deviled eggs as possible in 12 minutes. But just to throw a kink in the works, the two teams will have to go up against Graham and Gordon which make the Yellow Team. The winning team will not have to cook in the upcoming challenge, guaranteeing themselves slots in the top 8. But if the Yellow Team prevails, both the Red and the Blue will lose the chance at immunity. The kids will get a six minute head start, so all hope is not lost.
I suspect Yellow was never meant to win, given that the guys only completed 3 perfect eggs. Blue comes in second with 6, and Red prevails with 10.
By the Book
Apparently, whenever the home cooks haven’t been in the kitchen, they’ve been assembling their own cookbooks. For this Elimination Challenge, the kids will have one hour to make the signature dish from their “amazing future cookbooks.”
This promises to be a hodge podge of delicacies ranging from French Classic to Cajun to Caribbean to yummy desserts.
Avery gives the judges a taste of the bayou with a crawfish etouffee over steamed rice. Avery catches crawfish in her own backyard and tells Christina she’s made this dish with her papa at least a thousand times.
Christina loves it. She praises the seasoning and the abundance of crawfish. She describes the dish as “bold.” Gordon loves the authenticity of the visual presentation, and he feels Avery did her papa proud.
Kya put her own spin on duck a l’orange with an orange fennel salad, cranberries and sweet potato fondant. Graham remarks that someone wore their “fancy pants.” Kya is confident that French cuisine is simply the best.
The only complaint Graham has is that the fennel is undercooked. Miss Kya cut it just a little too thick.
After seeing the competition, Kaitlyn is second guessing her choice of making a cupcake. She thinks she might have been better off preparing a Korean dish instead. We shall see…
Kaitlyn baked a Black Forest cupcake using raspberries instead of cherries. Gordon takes Kaitlyn for task for not aiming higher. He doesn’t think that a single cupcake even qualifies as a dish. It’s disappointing that Kaitlyn may get eliminated because she’s been a strong competitor up to this point. To make things worse, Kaitlyn didn’t deliver the perfect cupcake. Her icing is so saturated with the flavor of butter, Gordon believes it should be served on toast. Kaitlyn returns to her station in tears.
Amaya prepared a Dominican asopao (rice and shrimp stew) and some fried plantains. Before the judges even take a bite, they are blown away, hovering around the creating muttering “wow, wow, wow, wow…”
Graham says Amaya really delivered. Most impressively, the shrimp are cooked to perfection, a challenge for many professional cooks. Graham believes the dish was well thought out and full of heart and soul.
JJ made a creamy fettuccine with grilled chicken. Although Gordon thinks the dish is good, he doesn’t think that it’s JJ on a plate. It fails to encapsulate what JJ’s cooking is all about. Like, say, a girl who learned to make Dominican stew with her grandmother.
Sam cooked chicken wrapped in bacon with cous cous and artichoke. Not good enough to win, but probably not bad enough to lose.
Addison also went the sweet route, but unlike Kaitlyn, her dish has a bit more flair. It’s an apple and passion fruit danish with homemade pastry and whipped cream. Christina thinks the flavors are “bold, fresh and bright,” but visually, the dessert falls flat.
Corey prepared a jerk chicken with red rice, beans, carrots and something he calls a “Rasta sauce.” The concept is good, but Gordon reveals that inside the chicken is raw. He questions if the oven was even on.
After some deliberation, Avery and Amaya’s dishes are recognized as the best. Corey, Addison and Kaitlyn are in the bottom three, and Corey and Kaitlyn are sent home.
A Few of Christina’s Favorite Things
Before the Mystery Box Challenge, Christina brings out a special guest and best friend, her mother, Greta. Greta put together all the ingredients for the challenge, and they contain almost every single thing Christina would eat as a child. The contents include: chicken breasts, chocolate chips, strawberries, broccoli and cereal.
But the surprises don’t end there. The home cooks get to Skype with their best friends before starting the challenge. Just a little boost to get the creative juices flowing.
The judges choose three dishes as their favorites. The first belongs to Addison, who made a strawberry tart with chocolate rice cereal. The second is a savory dish from Zac. Zac prepared a pan-seared chicken breast, a potato puree (whipped potatoes), broccoli and crispy potato noodles. Lastly, Sam’s chocolate mousse with a strawberry and mint-maple syrup coulis.
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A Tag Team Challenge
The young cook who takes top honors is Zac. Zac’s big advantage is that he gets to pick the four teams of two competing together in the Elimination Challenge.
Zac’s pairings include: Zac and Kya, Sam and Kamilly, Avery and JJ and Addison and Amaya.
The chefs learn that this is going to be a tag team challenge. The teams have to make a tray of international street food which includes: spring rolls, samosas and lamb kofta. There are also dishes from Italy and China.
Only one team member can cook at a time, and to succeed in this challenge there has to be great communication. The stakes (or should I say steaks?) couldn’t be any higher. Both members of the losing team will be sent home.
Gordon chastises JJ and Avery for their lackluster time management, and there’s the expected squabbling, especially between Amaya and Addison who prove to be completely incompatible.
Time’s finally up, and the judges get to take a bite out of the final products.
Addison and Amaya, despite their tumultuous working relationship, delivered on every component.
Kya and Zac started out strong, but things went wrong in the end. Not only are there a few elements missing, but what was there wasn’t all that great either. Graham is surprised because he considered these two frontrunners, and now he’s just not too sure.
JJ and Avery failed to get some sauces and the spring rolls on the plate but feel that they still did pretty well, considering neither had much knowledge of street food. Christina feels this twosome had some real “stars” on their platter.
Sam and Kamilly were another team that struggled to communicate. Gordon points out they were working like individuals as opposed to a team. Sam felt they were simply overwhelmed and guessed that Zac put them together, figuring they would flounder. Lots of missteps for this team.
Addison and Amaya come in first. Sam and Kamilly and Zac and Kya are in the bottom.
Kamilly and Sam are eliminated.
MasterChef Junior airs Fridays at 8pm on FOX.