On this episode of MasterChef Junior, “Blind Ambition,” the cooks face a unique challenge when they are asked to replicate a dish. The chefs do their first full restaurant service, catering to some very special guests.
The remaining 12 home cooks enter the kitchen eager to compete in the next Mystery Box Challenge. When they lift their boxes, there are no ingredients, just a blindfold. Gordon instructs them to grab their blindfolds and take a seat up front. Gordon wheels out a huge dining table. There are 12 plates, all covered.
Blind Leading the Blind
The kids have to eat a meal relying strictly on their sense of taste and smell. After identifying as many ingredients as possible, their job will be to recreate the dish. This news is met with a lot of groans and “oh, nos.”
Ian is concerned because he’s a picky eater, and he doesn’t relish the idea of putting something in his mouth he can’t get a look at first.
The kids have five minutes to figure out they are chowing down on pan-seared chicken and mushrooms, rosemary and mustard-infused mashed potatoes, green beans with shaved almonds, baby carrots with a honey-orange glaze and baby turnips, all prepared by Gordon.
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The chefs may not all know what they ate, but they agree on one thing, it was delicious.
So it’s off to their stations, where the cooks have one hour to recreate the dish. The person who comes closest will earn a huge advantage in the next challenge.
After 60 minutes, and one small fire, the home cooks present their dishes to the judges.
The first order of business is to reveal to the chefs Gordon’s dish. After the initial judging, which is based on presentation and content, four cooks are left: Corey, Kya, Kaitlyn and Ian. The final part of the challenge is to determine whose dish most closely mimics Gordon’s dish when it comes to flavors.
Kya missed the mushrooms and turnips, but Gordon says the rest of the flavors are spot on. Her presentation is also almost completely identical to the original.
Graham is impressed by Corey’s attention to detail. Corey did forget the turnips, the almonds in the green beans and one of the sauces, but Graham is still full of praise.
Ian’s chicken breast is almost identical to Gordon’s. Christina also says Ian earned his spot because he roasted parsnips. No, there were no parsnips on the plate. But the judges were amazed that at 8 years old, Ian’s palate could discern the sweet, roasted root vegetable flavor, and this helped to put him over the top.
Gordon loves the sear on Kaitlyn’s chicken but chastises her for missing the carrots and being skimpy with the green beans (3 total).
Kya wins, and Kaitlyn comes in second.
Very Important Grandmas
For the Elimination Challenge, the home cooks will be cooking for some VIP guests, and they will be split into two teams. As the Mystery Box Challenge winners, Kya and Kaitlyn will serve as team captains.
Two large crates are wheeled out, and Christina reveals one team will have to cook with ingredients from New England, while the other will have to utilize items commonly found in New Mexico. Kya is offered the option of picking either a crate or a team member first, and she goes with the New England crate.
Red Team: Kya (captain), Avery, Sam, Corey, Jesse and Ian
Blue Team: Kaitlyn (captain), Zac, Addison, Kamilly, JJ and Amaya
The Red Team’s ingredients include: mussels, cod, clams, bacon, celery, Vermont cheddar and parsley.
The Blue Teams ingredients include: chorizo, pork tenderloin, lime, corn, tomatoes and avocados.
Each team has 90 minutes to prepare 31 MasterChef-worthy dishes. The guests will decide the winners, and two cooks from the losing team will be eliminated.
In the midst of the challenge, Gordon finally introduces the 31 mystery guests, and it’s a bunch of grandmothers. Yes, these kids are trying appeal to the Early Bird sect. It’s both cute and annoying that Avery thinks these women are in their 50s. Ahhh, youth.
These “grannies” have been scooped up from all over the country, and their combined experience in the kitchen totals hundreds of years. I’m pretty sure a few could have been on the Titanic. (Kidding!) The ladies are very excited to taste the dishes prepared by the precocious chefs. I’m guessing they’re just happy to be out of the house. (Kidding!)
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Dinner is Served
The teams’ complete their first full restaurant service, and all they can do is sit back and wait.
The Red Team prepared a mussel and clam bake, served in a broth. There’s also a cod cake and roasted corn on the cob.
The Blue Team went with grilled-baked pork tenderloin served with a bean cake and finished with an avocado crema.
Gordon makes the rounds, getting the ladies’ opinions, and, of course, it seems pretty evenly split. It also seems some of these women are more interested in flirting with Gordon than the food.
Close but No Top 10
The results are in, and the grannies chose the Blue Team’s dish as their favorite. This means two Red Team members are going home.
The judges give Avery and Sam free passes. The remaining four, while talented, were a bit more “fragmented” when it came to teamwork. Jesse and Ian are eliminated, and Kya and Corey live to cook another day.
A new episode of MasterChef Junior airs January 8 on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)