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October 9, 2015

'MasterChef' Judge Graham Elliot: The Cooks Don't Want to Be Pushed Around Anymore

by Graham Elliot, posted Aug 9th 2011 11:45AM
Graham ElliotGraham 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 ...

This was an exciting challenge ... and a daunting one. Patina has a Michelin star, which Joe, Gordon and I have been awarded and I can tell you those stars don't come easy. It's a leap to go from a talented home cook to serving a full restaurant. Chef and Owner Joachim Splichal has a menu of delicious dishes and very elaborate plating. Every dish is like a work of art. I wasn't kidding about them going into "culinary warfare." But I'm ahead of myself ... more on that later.

I was as surprised as Christian that team captains Suzy and Tracy didn't choose Christian in their first picks. It seems as if his cocky personality has had an effect on the other cooks. They are confident enough to lead now and don't want to be pushed around.

Head Chef Tony Esnault and his sous chef, Jeffrey Yuguchi, did a demo on all the dishes. It was obviously much longer than we could show in the edited version. That Lilly Risotto alone would have taken the entire show to demonstrate. I think when they pulled out the rulers to show how to plate sauces, the cooks knew what they were in for.

Shortly after the demo the diners arrived and Gordon took charge of expediting the courses. Tensions rose about 100 percent at this point. Even Christian seemed taken aback at first. It was a full on pressure cooker in that kitchen. Ben was like a deer in headlights.

The blue team -- Tracy, Jennifer and Adrien -- lost the challenge. Between diner reviews, Patina input and the judges input, they had the weakest representations of the dishes and were not happy about having to face another pressure test.

This might just surpass soufflé on the hardest challenge on the show. Gordon makes filleting that salmon look so easy but it takes a lot of strength and skill. Scaling, filleting, deboning, cooking -- there are lots of places to fail.

The cooks spent so much time on scaling and filleting that the cookery suffered. Tracy didn't get her tail off the fish, which was a fatal flaw. When you have such a beautiful fish, you need to respect it and use as much as possible.

Tracy missed on the most counts and it was her time to go. We were so glad to have been able to give her classes with Le Cordon Bleu and can't wait for her to get even better in the kitchen and then come work in ours.

With so few contestants left, every week is getting more intense and the eliminations are more emotional.

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