'MasterChef' Judge Graham Elliot: Tonight's Eliminated Chef 'Massacred' Her Food
by Graham Elliot, posted Jul 6th 2011 1:00AM
Graham Elliot is a world renowned chef and judge on Fox's 'MasterChef' who'll be guest blogging for AOL TV from time to time this season. Here are his thoughts on this week's episode ...
Alrighty then, we are now down to the lucky 13! Hard to believe that we've already lost five great home cooks along the way. I love the Mystery Box challenges, and this one in particular was exciting as it was our first vegetarian challenge in 'MasterChef.' I love meat cooking with proteins as much as the next big, tattooed guy, but as a chef and restaurant owner, I want to make sure the cooks are proficient in vegetable cookery as well.
That said, it was a great challenge for our aspiring chefs, and it was obvious from the start that some of the cooks were a little lost without a big piece of fish or meat. Christian's forte is fish, and I'm guessing that since Jennie is from Texas, she was probably hoping for a steak.
Christian has been a strong contender so far, but this challenge proved he still has room to grow both in skill and in attitude. To his surprise, his dish was dismal. It seemed as if he jumped into a time machine and returned with a dish straight outta the '70s. The dish was pretty bad, but even worse was his arrogance.
On the opposite side of the spectrum we had Jennifer, whose vegetable terrine was amazing and showed great plating skills. Alejandra hit it out of the park with her flavors, and she really embraced the spirit of the challenge.
Adrien made amazing rice topped with a fried egg which he learned how to make by cooking alongside his grandmother, and I speak for all the judges when I say we'd eat at her table any day of the week! We had a big debate on who to name as the winner, but all agreed that we'd go back for seconds on Jennifer's dish.
Then came the elimination challenge. It was great seeing Whitney again and hearing how winning 'MasterChef' has changed her life. We knew she'd be a great representative of the show, and her new cookbook, 'Modern Hospitality,' is a testament to her understanding of just how important food and hospitality are.
Now Jennifer had a choice of which of Whitney's dishes everyone would have to replicate, so we really had no idea which direction she would go. The catfish was a good choice, and while some of the cooks are proficient in fish, that slaw was complicated. With 29 ingredients in the entire dish but over half were in the slaw, even a seasoned chef would have trouble deciphering it.
Jennifer's advantage was amazing, and if I were one of her competitors, I would have parked in front of her station for a few minutes before cooking to see what ingredients she had on her station.
Christian redeemed himself with that dish; the breading and cookery on his fish were spot on. Ben also nailed it, but sadly some of the other contestants dishes were not so great. Adrien knew from the moment time was called that his plating wasn't up to par. Seeing as we eat with our eyes as well as our mouths, this was a major disappointment.
Here's the rundown of some of the other issues we encountered ... Alejandra's raw garlic in the tartar sauce was a big mistake, Christine couldn't wrap the fries, Erryn's fries were overcooked, Jennie massacred her slaw and Derrick had problems with the breading on the fish.
In the end, Christian and Ben were the obvious standouts and thus will be team captains in the next challenge. They are radically different in their approach to cooking and leading, so it will be interesting to see how they do in the next challenge.
Out of all the dishes we tasted, sadly it was Jennie who had the worst dish. Between the fries, fish and slaw, it was hard to pick out one particular component on the dish that did her in. I wanna say that Jennie is a great home cook, and clearly has a burning passion for the culinary arts. While she may not be this season's 'MasterChef,' I'm confident she'll be pleasing palates with her big hearted cooking for years to come.
'MasterChef' airs Tuesdays, 9PM ET on Fox.