Welcome back to the MasterChef kitchen! There are 10 aprons left, and 20 home cooks vying for those final spots in the competition. Who will move forward to wow Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi, and a smattering of celebrity chefs this season? Maybe it’s the 26-year old dude who still insists on being called a frat guy. He deserves the win, if only to define himself as something other than a frat boy. College is awesome, but we all have to grow up sometime, Dan. Or, hey, maybe it’ll be the construction worker who loves his mom so much that he is brought to tears — oh, please let it be him? Only time will tell. One thing’s for sure: Week 2 of the big apron-off has dialed up the emotions. There’s so much talk of making parents proud! And hugging! MasterChef could always use more hugging.
Before we let our tears water down our beurre blanc sauce, let’s get to the cooking. And also to the recapping.
THE BATTLE OF THE TACOS
Aforementioned frat guy Dan is finally called up to show off more than just his ability to relate real life scenarios to the Greek system. Do we really need to equate this head-to-head battle with hazing? Let’s all stick to the cooking, okay? Maybe his competition, nail technician Takeila, can put Dan in his place. Tonight, they’ll be whipping up some tacos for Gordon and Christina. Sounds simple enough, but both competitors will have to really impress in order to come out on top here.
Dan’s making beer-battered flounder tacos because of course he is. Christina and Gordon worry about the thickness of the batter — it may take away from the flavor of the fish. He’s going for nice and light with a freshly made pico de gallo and a lime crema to top it all off. It looks delicious, the recapper said begrudgingly. Dan also whips out some hardcore foodie knowledge when asked to explain the hows and whys of his batter. Maybe there’s more to this frat guy, after all. Takeila attempts chicken jerk tacos… and waffles. Although her marinade includes water rather than something with flavor, the judges enjoy her protein, but overall they find her dish to be unfocused; the waffles don’t make sense here. Dan’s simple but well-cooked fish tacos earn him the first apron of the night.
THE BATTLE OF THE BURGERS
Turns out, the Battle of the Burgers could also be called the Battle of the Grown Men Who Are Very In Touch With Their Feelings and Just Want to Make Their Mothers Proud. Battle of the Burgers is much catchier though, so I get it. Zack is a construction worker who is very into his time at the gym and also likes to cook wearing a tank top. Maybe not the most sanitary, but let’s not fault him for it. Oh, and it goes without saying, the dude loves his mom. Alejandro, his competition from Miami, also loves his mother. His family came from Venezuela to pursue the American Dream, and he wants to show gratitude for all the opportunities his mother has give him. Do we even have to cook? Let’s just talk about making mom proud some more.
Okay, we’ll let them cook. Alejandro opts for a hamburguesa con todo, which contains two beef patties, a fried egg, ham, tomato, cabbage, ketchup, mustard, garlic mayo, and probably 30 other ingredients I didn’t catch. Christina wishes his grill pan had been hotter so that the patties had a better sear, but otherwise the burger with everything gets a thumbs up from Tosi. Gordon thought it was messy looking (um, duh), but loved the flavors. Zack goes with a black-and-bleu burger, stuffed with bleu cheese and topped with grilled jalapeños, raw onions, and a honey bourbon ketchup. It’s a little too hot for Gordon’s taste, and he wishes there was more balance in flavors. To make this battle excruciating, Gordon has both of the guys bring their mamas in before they hand out the apron. This is just mean. For a moment, I was hoping both men who be granted an apron in front of their mothers because I live in a dream world. Nope, there can only be one king of the burger, and tonight, it’s Alejandro.
NEXT: MasterChef gets its grits on