MasterChef recap: The Restaurant Takeover
The top six become the top five and Derrick looks good in two sets of sleeves.
The final half dozen chefs pile into Chaya restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. Derrick’s leading the pack, though I didn’t recognize him at first because he has sleeves! And a jacket! And a tie! Tonight’s the restaurant takeover, which you probably figured out if you watched the episode or read the above headline. This arduous task “will either beat the dream of being a chef right out of you or turn you into one in 90 minutes,” says Nick. Stephen and Derrick are captains, which is perfect for Derrick who has a “burning desire” to beat Stephen. Easy with the prose, bro.
Stephen taps Nick and Claudia to join him on the Red Team. Derrick drums with aprons on Stephen’s shoulder before selecting Katrina and then getting stuck with Hetal, a detriment knowing there’s a fair amount of protein forthcoming. Gordon Ramsay introduces the head chef of Chaya, Shigefumi Tachibe, who happened to have invented tuna tartare. We get a quick demo of four of his signature dishes, which the teams will have to replicate during service. The two appetizers are tuna tartare and wagyu beef risotto and the entrees are venison loin and a miso sea bass. Everyone takes notes, though Stephen’s sure walking in this culinary giant’s footsteps will be impossible.
Tonight’s expediter will be Gordon Ramsay. “He is the scariest man in the world,” Nick begins. “His blue eyes sink into your soul when he’s yelling at you and you have nothing left.” With that, everyone takes their stations. Derrick breaks up the duties for his Blue Team while Stephen assigns most of the cooking to himself, leaving nominal tasks for Claudia and Nick. Diners file in, greeted at the door by Christina Tosi, and it’s not long before Gordon is barking out orders and dinner is underway. Nick’s already sweating. Stephen’s realizing he bit off too much and his bread is burning. The closest analog for the chaos of this kitchen for Stephen? “My first marriage.” Nothing’s coming out, so Gordon continues to repeat the orders, even faster, like an auctioneer on meth.
The lack of communication on the Blue Team means a lack of serviceable food, which means Gordon is “dying now.” Gordon tries to break through to Hetal in the way he knows best: SCREAMING. Hetal’s used to people yelling at her by virtue of “being from New Jersey” but Gordon’s yelling is a whole other level, she says. Derrick’s team is so embarrassing the only thing Gordon can do is (lightly) bang his head into the wall over and over. Put your back into it, man. The Blue Team is backed up to the tune of 27 tickets, but it’s going to take a while longer since Derrick can’t get some bread to cook. Sheesh. There’s a quick—and quieter—lecture from Gordon which does inspire Derrick to take command. Meanwhile on the Red Team, Claudia has two plates of “f—ed” tuna tartare returned for too much mayo, but quickly gets back on track.
Hetal finds her voice, the Blue Team gets their shizz together and “beautiful” plates, per Gordon, start leaving the kitchen. The diners have nary a complaint about either team and we’re onto entrees. Now it’s the Red Team’s turn to suck, as they can’t get their timings right. Stephen’s overcooking the bass, which “may give Gordon a heart attack,” according to Nick. “Before he goes, he may kill us first,” Nick sighs, regarding their inability to get a four top all necessary plates up to the pass simultaneously. Gordon has now said “three bass, one venison” at least two trillion times, and it’s still coming up overcooked and sloppy. There are some more issues on both sides, with the Red Team serving oily fish, and Katrina burning the bass for the Blue Team, but they both complete the service.
NEXT: A rough elimination challenge ends with a bit of a surprise.
The winning team is announced the next day, and it’s Stephen’s Red Team. Derrick, his now-uncovered arms, Hetal and Katrina all head into the elimination challenge. The gauntlet thrown is pasta, but not just a single dish. Instead it’s three difficult ones: manicotti, squid farfalle, and egg yolk ravioli. (When Christina started talking first, I was sure this would be another freaking baking challenge.) They have to complete perfect replications of each dish within one hour. Nick, as our resident Italian, says this isn’t possible. Away we go.
Derrick’s never made egg yolk ravioli before, and Gordon wonders if his surname isn’t “pressure” at this point, given how often he ends up in these challenges. Katrina’s freaking over the “little squid lines” in the farfalle. Christina passive aggressively reminds Hetal that her ravioli is supposed to be round before walking away. “I don’t know where her mind is,” Christina says, as we all watch Hetal add some parsley ricotta, which is not supposed to be in there. Stephen and Claudia hint from the rafters that it’s just a yolk and she scrapes it off. However, she’s still in hot water since none of her pasta IS in any hot water. She tells Graham Elliot she’s not even going to attempt the farfalle, though Graham explains she still has time and gets her back on track. “I need to focus on the food and less on my feelings,” she says.
They all finish and get three plates to the tasting table. Derrick’s manicotti filling is stingy, but the pasta’s beautiful. The sauce is lacking a pinch of salt, but overall it’s a hit. Katrina’s manicotti is “a delicious dish made with love,” says Christina. Katrina was “told by a friend that if you don’t cook Italian food with love, it’s not Italian food,” drawing an eye roll from me. Hetal’s filling “is fine,” the sauce is “lackluster,” but the pasta’s done well. Yikes.
Derrick’s farfalle is striped but undercooked. Katrina’s self-assessment that her pasta is the worst would be correct; Graham finds the pasta to be raw and stripeless. Despite her poor technique, she still gets a good job. Excited by this, Katrina demands a high-five from Graham, who—after leaving her hanging for a split second—gives her a medium five. Hetal’s farfalle looks far better than Derrick’s or Katrina’s, but her clams and scallops are undercooked, meaning “you definitely screwed that one up.”
Upon approaching Derrick’s egg yolk ravioli, Gordon “could scream right now because you could be going home, based on one thing. Look at your dish.” I see nothing wrong, and neither does Derrick. “Raw sage,” Gordon says, exasperated. “How disgusting is that? It’s like eating an air freshener.” The dish is fine but the raw herb is a glaring error that may cost our rockstar dearly. Next we hear, “Oh no, no, no, no. Stop,” when Gordon learns Katrina’s put ricotta in her ravioli. “I’m sorry,” Katrina softly says. Hetal’s off to a bad start when Gordon cuts in and the egg yolk is coagulated, but worse is the mess of pepper in there. “That. Is. Embarrassing,” says Gordon, turning heel. Hetal tells us she thinks the mistakes of the other two were worse than hers.
Elimination time. We hear that Derrick nailed two of three plates and Katrina also had one underachieving dish. As for Hetal, she felt the pressure and didn’t shine at all “and that is why your journey ends here.” Hetal cries, understandably. Katrina cries, inexplicably. Hetal declares she thinks the winner will be Katrina, and with that, she exits the set for the final time.
Did you ever think Hetal would be eliminated on a challenge that didn’t involve any protein? Who’s your pick for taking the MasterChef apron home?