Summer cooking, had me a blast. Summer cooking happened so fast. Does Gordon Ramsay sing this song as he packs up the MasterChef kitchen each year? Discuss in the comments. Regardless, just as our summer comes to a close, so must season 7 of MasterChef. We’ve been through so much together! From the chaotic extravaganza of handing out 20 white aprons, to having our home cooks harvest veggies on a farm, to weathering the grief that followed watching cooking phenom Terry get the boot, and everything in between. Weddings! Sweet Sixteens! Secret 1920s theme parties in creepy old hotels! There were fights. There was fainting. There were tears. So, so many tears. It has been a ride.
The journey’s still not over for Shaun, Brandi, and David, our three finalists who are sent to their respective homes for a week to reconnect with their roots and work on their finale menus. As Gordon and Christina visit each of the cooks, it’s clear that they each have figured out what fuels their desire to win: Brandi wants to show her students that you can achieve your goals no matter where you’re from. David is doing this all for his adorable daughter (how cute is it when Liliana runs into Christina’s arms when the judges show up at the door?). Shaun just wants to make his late father proud. Ugh. Can’t everybody win?
Just kidding! There’s no room for participation trophies in the kitchen, people.
The final three return to the MasterChef kitchen — now complete with a live audience! — for their final challenge. They have to make one perfect three-course meal for the judges. Oh, and Gordon and Christina aren’t messing around with the taste buds they’re bringing in to assist them in selecting a winner: They welcome Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud to the kitchen. These are some real heavy hitters, and the contestants know there is no room for error. Will Brandi be able to elevate her down home Southern cooking aesthetic enough for the judges? Will Shaun be able to rein in his sometimes out there ideas and focus on great flavors? Will David’s temper make a reappearance? Only time will tell. It’s all very exciting, you guys.
And now, to tonight’s menu:
Brandi Mudd, Irvington, KY
Braised Pork Belly With Apricot BBQ Sauce and Squash-Parsnip Puree
Brandi’s focus for the finale is to show the judges that Southern cooking can be just as refined as, say, anything coming out of Las Vegas. All of her dishes are Brandi on a plate, elevated. She’s grown a lot during her time on the show, especially in regards to plating, and she’s going to show that off. Her biggest obstacle with this dish is cooking the pork belly perfectly in just 60 minutes. Guess what? She nails it. The judges are wowed by her protein. They love the balance of flavors and Christina can’t stop talking about that apricot BBQ sauce. The only real criticism comes from Gordon, who finds her puree unnecessary and confusing. He also tells her that he wants to steal her idea to combine pork belly with rhubarb for his own restaurants, so I’m guessing he’ll get over the puree thing.