It’s finally time for the two-hour MasterChef finale — and it’s all down to Courtney, Elizabeth and Leslie. Who will win season 5?

50 Judge Challenge

The first challenge is bringing in some special guests. They’re all chefs, and there’s one from each state. Courtney’s right when she says this is going to be 50 times harder, but they’re not going to do this alone. Down comes a bunch of the former contestants. And they have the best way of deciding who the final three get: fortune cookies. Courtney gets Daniel and Big Willie, Leslie of course gets Ahran (who he now wishes for) and Christian, and Elizabeth gets Jaimee and Victoria.

They all sprint off to the pantry to start their amazing entrees, but the judges are a little skeptical about Courtney and Leslie’s dishes. Suddenly, the 50 chefs all file in. “It’s like a never-ending parade of famous people that I’m obsessed with,” Elizabeth says. 

The judges then talk to the cooks and Joe says that he’d hire Leslie if he had to pick right now because “he’s on fire.” But just then, he literally is on fire. Luckily, things get under control. Leslie and Elizabeth start plating, but Courtney’s starting to fall behind and Gordon starts calling out to her. She’s losing control. They finally all get plated and the servers start to take them. “Gentle like a lover,” Elizabeth tells them. The other cooks say goodbye and Big Willie apologizes to Courtney.

The final three go into the restaurant to explain their dishes. Courtney talks about her pan-seared halibut, Leslie has a filet mignon with gnocchi and Elizabeth has pan-seared red snapper. They then go back into the kitchen while the chefs eat and judge. The judges talk while the final three talk to each other and wait.

The chefs file back in and the final three wait to hear who won the challenge and will automatically be in the final two. Elizabeth’s name is called and she makes her way through “the hallway of chefs,” then up to the balcony and her glass of champagne. I definitely thought Elizabeth deserved to be in the top two.

Three Cake Pressure Test

Courtney and Leslie follow behind through the lines of chefs, and then the chefs leave. They now have to face another pressure test. Last time, they made an entree; now, they have to make a dessert. Make that three desserts. They have to make the “United Cakes of America,” which are a cheesecake, key lime pie and Boston cream pie.

“If she wins fair and square, fine by me. But I’m not going down sleeping, that’s for damn sure,” Leslie says. He always has something to say. And they begin. This is actually Leslie’s seventh pressure test. Courtney’s more of a baker, though. But they’ve both been talking to themselves. Something Courtney’s working with actually breaks, but it doesn’t phase her. Leslie’s having some trouble, though, and his cheesecake might not be done in time. He starts to come back while Courtney starts falling apart. This is really anybody’s game. Everyone’s getting frantic. Leslie even slips.

Finally, they finish their cakes and the judges go to try them. Joe tries the cheesecakes first. Courtney’s is the clear winner for that one. Graham then tries the key lime pie and that one goes to Leslie. So it all comes down to the Boston cream pie. Gordon goes to try the Boston cream pies and it’s clear that Leslie’s looks better, but it’ll come down to taste, and it doesn’t look like Leslie’s tastes too good. Gordon goes back and has him taste it. He put salt instead of the sugar. That is not good. So, of course, Courtney wins and Leslie has to go home. Leslie then says that he thinks Elizabeth will win.


Finally, it all comes down to Elizabeth and Courtney. They show Elizabeth’s story, starting from her being an advertising executive in Brooklyn to all of her great dishes. She’s never lost a team challenge and never cooked a pressure test. They then show Courtney’s story, starting with her work in a gentleman’s club and passion for cooking to her being the first cook to get a white apron and all of her great dishes. They also include some of her struggles. All of the past competitors are up on the balcony. Then they find out that their family and friends are there too. Even Cooper’s there.

The final two have to make an appetizer, entree and dessert for each of the judges. Courtney and Elizabeth run to the pantry to get started and the former contestants discuss who they think will win. 

Elizabeth’s making grilled octopus and Courtney’s making a pig’s ear for their appetizers. And they quickly get started, with the crowds cheering them on. Courtney’s dish is definitely the riskier of the two, but Elizabeth’s dish has to be timed perfectly. Elizabeth’s starting to fall behind. Of course, Courtney and Elizabeth have to make comments about each other’s dishes, but it’s all up to the judges. They try Elizabeth’s first. It’s good overall, but Joe says the octopus is a little overcooked. Courtney’s up next and Joe’s not sure if her dish is enough. It tastes great, though. Elizabeth’s looks good, but Courtney’s seems like more of a risk to me.

Courtney and Elizabeth prep for their entrees while the judges talk. The judges come back and they start cooking. Courtney starts showing off to Cooper with some fire, but Elizabeth is not impressed. She’s falling behind yet again, though, and some of her lamb looks really rare and Courtney calls her out on it. Elizabeth has a spiced rack of lamb and Joe’s is pretty rare. Things are not looking good for Elizabeth. Gordon and Graham love theirs, though. Courtney has a sumac duck breast, which they all love.

Courtney and Elizabeth go back to get ready for the dessert while the judges talk. Elizabeth’s making a grape fruit and olive oil cake with a plum trio while Courtney’s making a cherry meringue and she’s definitely in her element. “Just because I work in an office and not a nightclub does not mean I don’t deserve to win this,” Elizabeth says when Joe asks if she wants it as much as Courtney. That felt like it was a little too much. People get pretty mean on MasterChef. Her cake doesn’t look too good, but she has a plan.

Courtney tries some of her dessert, but then realizes that she didn’t make any extras, which is a huge problem. “I have possibly just eaten a quarter of a million dollars,” she says. Elizabeth says Courtney’s dish looks like second place, but it’s all up to the judges.

The judges are upset with the missing meringue and say it doesn’t look good. It tastes a little salty, too. Joe calls the salt either brilliant or stupid, but he decides it’s actually brilliant. Graham loves it too, but Gordon disagrees about the salt. Elizabeth’s goes over really well.

The Winner Is…

The judges deliberate then finally come back out, and Courtney and Elizabeth are surrounded by the former contestants and their loved ones. They’re about to announce the winner, but Elizabeth’s husband suddenly passes out. Anything can happen on MasterChef.

They get back to announcing the winner after they make sure Elizabeth’s husband is okay.

The judges tell Elizabeth and Courtney to switch places with them to show that they’re such great chefs. In the end, Courtney wins MasterChef season 5 and she bursts into tears. She really did deserve it. “I am America’s MasterChef,” she declares. 

It was tough for me to root for Courtney throughout the season. She wasn’t always the nicest competitor and had some rivals, but no matter what you have to say about her, she almost always consistently had the best dishes. She was always calm and confident and knew what she was doing and managed to surprise the judges at some points. I really started rooting for her when we met Cooper — that kid is adorable.

Though Courtney was definitely competitive and had some problems with some of the other contestants, she really did take more risks in the kitchen and had better dishes in the end. I’ve got to say, I thought people got too competitive and mean at some points, including Courtney, but she really won me over towards the end. I think she really did deserve it over Elizabeth.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Robin Lempel

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV