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July 28, 2014

'MasterChef' Judge Graham Elliot: I'm Sensing a Friendly Rivalry Between Christian & Adrien

by Graham Elliot, posted Jul 26th 2011 10:00PM
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 ...

Ahh yeah, another mystery box challenge! Tonight's challenge was close to my heart, as it featured one of my favorite ingredients: diver scallops. Most scallops are dredged across the sea bed, resulting in broken shells, excess grit, and sand. Diver scallops, on the other hand, are hand-picked by scuba divers, thereby insuring they're in much more pristine shape when they get to the kitchen.

While many of the contestants have cooked scallops before, few of them have actually had the pleasure of shucking a live one freshly plucked from the water. In addition to actual cooking skills, a great chef must be able to show due respect for his or her ingredients. Once you fully realize that an animal or creature has unwillingly given its life for you to cook and consume, you tend to cherish it more and take the extra time to make sure it's prepared to perfection.

At the end of the competition, we were presented with a plethora of sexy looking dishes. Leave it to Ben Starr to use the scallops and the bananas together ... we totally didn't expect to see that combo. I'm not sure, but he may have been wearing a special banana hat this time. Christian's dish was bad-ass; the only issue we had was that there wasn't more of it! Adrien's dish was really attractive and tasted great ...his plating has greatly improved, and the flavors really did take me on a world tour from South America to Europe.

At the end of the day, both Adrien and Christian's dishes were outstanding, but Adrien's was the best. Christian was disappointed -- he's known as the "fish guy" but hasn't been successful in the Mystery Boxes that include seafood.

And then there was Bob the Pig and our elimination challenge. I love how this challenge shows you just how much you can get out of the mighty pig. There are so many different cuts that you can utilize; hell, I'd venture to say you could probably find a way to cook the squeal!

Adrien's advantage was pretty unique and it was interesting to see what his strategy would be and who he would give the toughest parts to. It wasn't a huge surprise that he gave Christian one of the toughest cuts -- the cheeks. I'm starting to sense a friendly rivalry between these two, and I think I like it.

Suzy had one of my favorite cuts -- pork belly. Unfortunately her sauce ruined the dish, which is a shame, seeing as how it's pretty hard to mess up such a fun ingredient. Jennifer's plate did not look like anything I would expect to see at this stage of the competition. She had one of the easier pieces to work with as well – ground pork - so we were expecting a lot more flavor and certainly a better presentation.

Alejandra had the Pork Loin and served it with an apricot wine sauce. Pork loin is one of the easier cuts of meat to cook but she really messed up. While it's fine to serve pork with some pink color to it, serving it raw is unacceptable. She said she trusted the thermometer, but she should have trusted her gut instincts and just taken a good look at the meat -- she would have known it wasn't cooked.

Choosing the three worst dishes wasn't hard, and Alejandra's raw pork was the worst offense. She has made some great dishes in this competition, and her cooking bursts forth with flavor. She has always been a great team player in the field challenges, and her great spirit and passion will be missed.

Christian and Christine had the top dishes and will be team leaders tomorrow night. They are both parents, which might come in handy ... I'm just saying. Tune in to see what unfolds!

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