To have and to hold until raw lamb chops do us part
Credit: Greg Gayne/Fox

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to today to witness 18 home cooks run around like crazies in order to avoid being reamed out by Gordon Ramsay in public. That’s right, people, it’s a MasterChef wedding – and in more ways than one. Not only are the Top 18 going to be catering a wedding, but that wedding is for MasterChef season 6 alum, Nick Nappi. Our boy Nick is getting married… tomorrow! He and his fiancée look very happy and in love, but who cares? Like most weddings, we’re just here for the food.

As last week’s winners, Nathan and Terry are deemed the team captains for this challenge. In a very tricky twist, Gordon announces that they will not be selecting their own teams, but rather the rest of the chefs are asked to pick a side and reveal which of their two captain options they’d prefer. It’s no surprise when the majority of home cooks flock to Terry’s side, but it is still upsetting to hear Nathan equate this ordeal to always being picked last in high school. (Terry has kind eyes, so I get where the other cooks are coming from.)

Well, we can’t have uneven teams for Nick’s big day, so Gordon makes Terry send three cooks over to Nathan’s team to even things out. It sounds like it would be super awkward, but like I said, there are kind eyes involved. Terry sends D’Andre, Shaun, and Alejandro mainly because he believes they’re big personalties who won’t be easy to work with. D’Andre and Shaun, I get, but Alejandro? He’s just a sweet boy who loves his mama!

Now that the teams are even, Terry’s Red Team and Nathan’s Blue Team can get to cooking. They have two courses to make, 150 mouths to feed, and a very short amount of time to do it. Oh, and, Gordon informs the cooks that there will be no Pressure Test following this challenge — someone on the losing team is going home based solely on their performance here. Weddings are so exciting, aren’t they?


Red Team: Pan-Seared Scallops with Asparagus and Lemon Buerre Blanc

Blue Team: Pan-Seared Scallops with Romanesco and Blood Orange Vinaigrette

The bride and groom asked for a scallops appetizer, and so a scallops appetizer they shall get! Almost immediately, the very different leadership styles between Terry and Nathan show: Terry is calm, collected, and willing to take input from his team while still remaining in charge. Nathan is mainly just yelling at people to be quiet. So, yes, the blue team is off to rough start in the appetizer round. Since scallops are delicate and don’t take much time to cook, timing is everything. When Gordon walks over and sees Barbara already searing the scallops before the ceremony has even started, he is understandably concerned. It is his first of many warnings to Nathan and the Blue Team that they need to regroup and focus. His warnings have a lot more curse words in it than that though. My favorite: “The speeches are about to start and I’m f—ing speechless.” Gordon is mad, you guys!

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With Nathan in a tailspin, Shaun attempts to take control of the situation, but problems continue to plague the Blue Team. They can’t plate fast enough, Barbara’s vinaigrette tastes terrible, some of the scallops are still raw… your basic team meltdown kind of stuff.

NEXT: To the main course!

Meanwhile, the Red Team is flying through service. They have a minor hiccup thanks to strong winds knocking over plates ready to be served (Why does the Red Team have wind problems and not the Blue Team? Does that hedge separating the two teams have magical powers?), but they recover easily. Terry has this under control. The guests are pretty sold on the Red Team’s dish, as well. Their scallops are cooked well, and the sauce is delicious. The Blue Team, unfortunately doesn’t end up getting all of their dishes out in time, and the ones that do make it are called out for being a bit bland.

The Blue Team needs to get it together before the next course if they want any shot of winning this thing.


Red Team: Rosemary-Crusted Lamb with Garlic Polenta and Tomato Gastrique

Blue Team: Pan-Seared Lamb with Pea and Mushroom Orzo and Pistachio Gremolata

Well, good on Nathan. He takes Gordon’s extremely constructive criticism and has a pow-wow with his teammates. He and Shaun even hug it out. It’s all going to be okay! All they need to do is whip up some unbelievably good rack of lamb for the newlyweds. No sweat. It’s actually not the lamb that gives the Blue Team any trouble, it’s their orzo. D’Andre is in charge of this dish and he claims to be an expert at orzo. The only thing he seems to be an orzo expert on is how to completely burn the bottom of the pan. Hey-ooo! I’ll be here all night, folks. Nathan from Round 1 would have a total freakout over this, but Round 2 Nathan is much more zen. His team works together to save what orzo they can.

The Red Team is having major protein issues. Terry puts firefighter Manny in charge of the lamb, and it seems to be going great, until Gordon comes by for service and sees that they’ve plated pieces of raw meat. He very calmly informs them of their error and asks them to fix things before they serve any food to guests, or, you know, he tells them that all their meat is missing “is the f—ing wool” and threatens to cancel their meal. The yelling works though, and the Red Team gets their rack of lamb up to standard.

The guests — including some of Nick’s season 6 castmates — seem to vote the Blue Team’s dish the winner of of this round. The lamb is done well, the presentation was nice, but the orzo was a mess. The Red Team’s critique was the exact opposite: The lamb was subpar, but the rest of the dish was great.

The winning team is announced by way of bouquet toss — will the bride throw the blue or red bouquet? — which, for the record, I fully support MasterChef instituting as the only way it reveals winners from here on out. The first team challenge of the season goes to Terry and the Red Team. Which means someone from Nathan’s contingent is getting kicked out of the kitchen tonight. Gordon and Christina grant a fast reprieve to Alejandro, Katie, Shaun, and, surprisingly, team captain Nathan, who, they believe, showed great tenacity. To those who might say a captain should go down with his ship, I say, you’re right. Even if they didn’t want to send him home, he should’ve been sweating it out just a little bit longer. A lot of their issues were due to Nathan’s oversight.

Back at the MasterChef kitchen, the judges also quickly send Dan, Andrea, and Brittany up to the Balcony of Safety and Dreams, for, well, at least being better than the last two on the chopping block: D’Andre and Barbara. Both made some huge technical mistakes, but in the end, Barbara is eliminated. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see this investigator get to do more, but alas, the MasterChef kitchen has no time for terrible vinaigrettes and overcooked scallops.

In happier news, next week we’re treated to a visit from season 6 winner Claudia Sandoval as well as a baking challenge, which is always equal parts fun and terrifying to watch.

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