Ok, so now that I've gotten through the first half of the MasterChef premiere, time to recap and give commentary on the second half of it!
Ok, here we go.
This episode starts out with Bime Cruz.
Bime was one of the first people I met in LA, and he was HILARIOUS. Really great guy, kept us all laughing.
Man, his Mofongo de Camarones looked ridiculous. I have GOT to get that recipe from him.
"I'm wondering if this is really a Caribbean dish, or just shrimp scampi faked with some plantain put in it" - Joe
I'm going to spare you from my rant on the usage of "Shrimp Scampi". (Along the lines of "ATM Machine" and "PIN Number", but with the added fun of genus confusion / misclassification).
I will say that when people use "Scampi" to denote a cooking preparation (rather than species), it generally refers to shrimp cooked in garlic butter and white wine.
... where Joey Coattails gets the idea that Shrimp Mofongo (traditional dish) is a ripoff of this American usage of the term is completely beyond me. I mean... wow. Moron.
Bime gets an apron, moves on.
Next is Jessie, a model and pageant queen.
Her dish looked nice enough, the judges were wishy washy... and in THE MOST CONTRIVED MOMENT IN MASTERCHEF HISTORY, Gordon Ramsay came flying out of the audition area, into the cooking area where the rest of us were waiting, and hauled two whole sea bass out of the fridges.
... because they just happened to have two whole sea bass just laying around.
They challenge her to prove that she's "the real deal" (that phrase needs to be retired from the show, seriously), by fileting the sea bass right then and there.
She gets an apron, obviously.
Next, they show the "circus reel" - Damian, Rachel Jesse, Jim Blesi, Abby, Dennis Hong, Andrew Keller, Shaun Jay. Tori.
Where to start? They don't show a ton about the food!
Let's start with Damian Legion, the pro wrestler and one of my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE people there. Within minutes of meeting him, he complimented my "Magneto was Right" shirt and showed me his Dalek tattoo. I think that was one of the first moments that I didn't feel super alone in LA, there was another geek there to hang out with!
Damian is a total teddy bear. Super sweet, caring, all around wonderful guy - I just love him, along with pretty much the rest of the cast. Just an all around great guy! You can check him out on Facebook, his page is Death Metal Domesticated, which is also the name of his Podcast.
Didn't really get to know Rachel (Fire Performer), Abby Wolf (Farmer), Shaun Jay (Magician)or Andrew Keller (Pogo stick, crazy hat) all that well.
He's from Minnesota, the biker guy. Tough guy, badass, no nonsense, etc. I had NO IDEA that he made a fouffy baked Alaska for his audition - this kind of made my day.
Dennis: Funny story about Dennis. He had two grad students there to help with the robots, and they sat right behind me in the van on the way to the first day of auditions. We were all introducing ourselves, I turned to say hi to them..
... and DAMNED if one of the two didn't look almost exactly like one of guys in Bran Van 3000, per the "Drinking in LA" video. Given that it had become my theme song by then, I had a good laugh / wanted to see it as an "omen" of sorts, LOL!
Really nice guys, all three.
Funny story about Tori Cunningham, the ice sculptor (They really only showed her squash carvings, but she's a competitive ice sculptor).
A few of us were looking for her, and had very little information to go on. We knew her first name, and that she was from somewhere in Ohio.
So one day, one of my Mensa friends - Alan Baltis, from Cleveland - posted some photos from an ice festival he was at to his Facebook profile.
I thought "Hrm. I wonder if Tori did any of the sculptures, maybe there will be a sign or something?".
Sure enough, the ONLY photo he had with the sculptor actually IN the photo? I was 95% sure it was Tori. Confirmed it with the others, and then we found her almost immediately. What are the odds of THAT?
Another funny thing - this was while we were still in our contractually-imposed silence, so I couldn't tell Alan HOW I knew her, when I called him up to ask if he was still there, to pass a message for me. This, while he had very recently dropped the news that he would be on an upcoming episode of Jeopardy! (July 19th - be sure to watch him, he's one of my favourite Mensa friends ever!)
Anyway, John and Shaun get aprons.
Next up is James "Jesus James" Nelson. (There were 2 guys named James, someone had come up with ways to differentiate them at some point!
James told of losing both his parents, cooked a pork belly, and won an apron. Check out his sauce company, Bravado Spice.
Next, we have what my MasterChef Roomie Alexandra Jones refers to as "The Slut Reel". These are the girls who were encouraged to flirt with the judges, etc - including Alexandra.
Julie Ann Gibson...
I'm so disappointed that they didn't show more of her audition. This chick was HILARIOUS. Before the filming, she was talking about how she wanted to take Gordon Ramsay home in a box, and had the most hilarious way of describing her dish. Words don't even do it justice, you'll have to watch Matt Orsini and I discuss it in This Youtube Video we made!
Alexandra Jones, my roomie:
Alexandra actually got one yes (from Joey) during her auditions. Her dish sounded and looked amazing, a Spanakopita Wrapped Chicken with roasted eggplant puree and arugula salad paired with Laurelwood brewing workhorse IPA (click that link for the recipe!).
This would be one of the more interesting uses of creative editing. They show Sheena biting one of her green pepper pieces, then later has the judges asking if she had plated the piece she had bitten. They then cut to her confirming "That's right".
It was an awkward cut / response, because it was pieced together from other footage - any idiot can look at the plate as shown on the screen, and clearly see that it is NOT the pepper she had bitten.
I don't even get why they bothered to do that, if they were going to show the photo. So much stupid...
She was such a cutie, from the little I got to know her. Wasn't fond of how they had her bring her whole group in, so excited for her, only to deny her the apron. Kind of a dick move.
With that batch done, we have a feature on Sasha Fox. I'm going to be honest, I have nothing nice to say about Sasha.
One of the first things I heard her say in LA was a loud declaration of how cooking "wasn't (her) THING", and that she was "just there to get FAMOUS".
While that alone is enough to rub me the wrong way, given the nature of the show AND how many good cooks got cut, she then proceeded to berate those who did not get aprons as somehow being beneath her upon her return from the show. It was really insensitive and disgusting.
Also, she's MUCH older than I am, but saw fit to act like a schoolyard bully and name-call about my appearance. Who DOES that?
That's all I have to say about her.
Now, we're told it's been more difficult to get an apron this year. There's some interesting math... they gave out 36 aprons (of 100 auditions) last year, and 40 out of 100 this year.
Now we have Rudy Reyes...
Rudy is a super sweet guy, and took SUCH good care of my while I was away at MasterChef. His girlfriend (who is a total sweetheart!) is autistic, and he knew exactly what I was going through with the whole thing.
I was so happy to meet her as well - the first words she said to me were double checking to make sure he had been taking good care of me, and asking if she had taught him well. She had! Thank you, Rudy and Cristina!
By the way, you can check out his audition video here
Unfortunately, Rudy's Buffalo Frybread "Indian Tacos" failed to earn him an apron 🙁 This actually happened while I was away buying groceries for my audition the next day (They make you go at certain times), I came back and he was gone - didn't even get to say goodbye! 🙁
I heard that those tacos were AMAZING, by the way.
Once more, we're told it's harder to win an apron this year... than EVER before. *snerk*!
I don't remember the name of the first guy, with the scallops.
Elden is "James Dean", the guy in the olive green shirt. I didn't get to know him as well as my roomie did, but she tells me that his cooking is INSANE, including his plating. Him not getting an apron was a bit of a shock, especially as he's a model.
Name up is my good friend, pilot Carrie Landry Peterson:
You may remember Carrie from her guest blog last week... where she shared how to make her audition dish, Whoopie Pies.
You know why her Whoopie Pies looked "like a 9 year old would make"? Because her oven that was supposedly up to temperature was very much NOT. Ugh.
You can follow Carrie on her Facebook page, Carrie's Confections.
Next up, we have my friend Matt Orsini.
Matt made a spinach and lemon ravioli with sage brown butter sauce. He actually made this for me a month or so ago when he came to visit - no word of a lie, that was the best damn pasta dish I've ever had in my life. He'll be guest blogging the recipe this week!
.. and another case of "auditioned while I was out shopping, failed to win an apron, was gone before I got back, did not get to say goodbye". I COMPLETELY lost it when I came back from shopping, only to find he was gone. It's a really crappy experience.
And then we have... me! For like 2 seconds!
I served up my Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, which is ridiculous and turned out absolutely perfectly. I'd actually made 3 small cakes and served up two of them to my fellow contestants in my final minute of cooking time - so there are plenty of people who can attest to it 🙂 Hell, even my batter bowl was absconded within seconds of me filling the pans!
So, here's the deal: I was SO relieved to not get an apron. Seriously, after a week of not seeing my husband, one of the very first things I said to him were "Get me OUT of here!".
I was similarly relieved at the edit I got, after seeing how awful and CREATIVELY the show had cut some of my friends. Sure, I would have liked it if they'd shown that the first words from Ramsay's mouth were "Graham is going to LOVE this", the fact that they all enjoyed the cake, etc.
REALLY would have loved to see what happened when Joe tried to stare me down, and I laughed at him for it... and really, REALLY would have loved for them to air my exit interview - it was cold, articulate, and scathing! - but hey... overall, I think I did pretty well.
I think my "wow" and the look on my face said it all, and was a nicely condescending response to such a ridiculous insult - and to a GROWN MAN blowing a raspberry. "Boarding School Pudding, at best", eh? I'd love to know what boarding schools serve up such boozy rum cake!
Ok, I'm gonna be honest, I hadn't seen the rest of this episode before this morning. Once I was eliminated, the crowd at my party was pretty much relieved to not have to watch anymore (Most are NOT "reality" TV fans!), so we all decided to turn the TV off and just chat.
So this next stuff is all fresh to me...
Aww, Dawn Hunt was so cute, asking if she could hug the judges after not getting an apron.
You can check out her business site, Cucina Aurora.
Next up, we have Eddie Jackson, a former NFL player:
Eddie is one of the people that I didn't really meet in LA, but wish I had. He seems like a genuinely nice guy... and his jerk meatloaf looked SO yummy!
Holy crap, writing these recaps really takes FOREVER.
Ok, then Luca from last year got an apron.