Monday, 3 February 2014

MasterChef Canada Episode 3 "First Kick at the Box" OR The Smelt Quiche Smelt

The home chefs are introduced to "The Shiny Perfect Place." That's how they describe the MasterChef Canada Kitchen when they first see it. Yes, it was shiny and perfect, but not for long. A big mess was soon to be made. Their first Mystery Box was sitting there just waiting for them, like the proverbial Pandora's Box. Everyone wondered what was underneath. Maybe it was more like the crate that covered the Lost Ark in Raiders, with all kinds of evil trying to burn it's way out.

But when it was finally revealed, it turned out to be pretty standard fare: pork tenderloin; honey; chocolate; chili pepper; strawberries; banana; and peanut butter - smooth and chunky. Not just any peanut butter either. Bonacini called it the finest. It was Kraft. Ah, they just had to give the nod to the major sponsor, didn't they? The home chefs had 60 minutes to prepare either a sweet or savoury restaurant-quality dish. Quite frankly, these ingredients were a gift. So the real challenge was in how they were combined to create balance. And presentation of course. Don't forget presentation.

The judges called up 3 home cooks they thought were the best:

Carly: Spicy Peanut Soup with Pork and Noodles
Eric: Peanut Butter Fruit Tart with Strawberries and Chocolate
Marida: Pork and Noodle Stir Fry with Peanut Vinigrette

The judges declared Marida the winner of the first Mystery Box Challenge. Not only was she safe from elimination this week, but she was brought into the Pantry where the judges presented her with a choice for the main ingredient in the Elimination Challenge. There was a theme to the 3 choices - they were ingredients taken from "Canadian land, seas and air". Just another way of saying meat, fish or fowl. Leung offered smelt, Bonacini revealed venison, and Aprile's choice was duck. The smart move to really trip up the other contestants would of course been the smelt, and that's exactly what Marida picked. There was one more surprise for Marida. She could choose another home chef to be safe from elimination, and she picked Brooke. Of course Brooke thought it was because they were friends, but Marida revealed that she did not see Brooke as a threat. Brooke could be dealt with later.

Once again, the home chefs are given 60 minutes to prepare a restaurant quality dish. Ben questions the pronunciation of the aptly named smelt, and even adds a "ch" - like schmelt. Maybe he was thinking of Smaug in the Hobbit. Meanwhile, the judges discuss the pros and cons of smelt. There is not a lot of flavour in smelt apparently, so the best way to serve it is breaded or floured, and then fried. The trick is to make it restaurant quality, so presentation is exceptionally important. The judges call up an assortment of home chefs to taste and critique their dishes.

Eric and Tammara are praised, although Tammara is told to stop preparing Asian dishes. Next up is Danny who decided to puree the smelt to make croquettes. Way wrong choice. Mr. Overly-Dramatic a.k.a. Alvin Leung explodes with "This is MasterChef Canada. You give me this?" Oh, oh. Since we were promised a surprise elimination in the preview, it's not looking good for poor Danny. Time for a commercial. When we return, the scolding is repeated, then Danny is told to go back to his station.

Dale does well. Time for another disaster dish. This time it's Meaghan's smelt quiche. Smelt quiche? What? Yep. The judges reaction? It was "Smelly. And not in a good way". I guess you could say the smelt quiche smelt. As for presentation - well let's just say the judges were dumbfounded that the whole quiche was simply put on a plate which was just slightly larger than the quiche itself. No garnish. Nothing. Just a large quiche pie sitting on the plate staring up at them.

Pino created a dish that the judges enjoyed. Next up were two more disasters from Kaila and Ben. Kaila made a hot mess with a scotch bonnet pepper, while Ben's garnish was called compost.

The there was good news and bad news. The judges announced the two best dishes were made by Dale and Pino, who were then named captains in the first team challenge (in the next episode). The bad news is the bottom 3 were Danny, Meaghan and Ben. Ben is asked to take off his apron and leave the kitchen. More bad news. There is another elimination - Meaghan. Danny is safe...for now.

My choices this week: Eric, Dale, Pino and Marida are the rising stars. Kaila and Danny need to shape up. 

This week there was tension between Kaila and Brooke. Next week, a little snit develops between Kaila and Dale. My money is on Dale. They are really trying to portray Kaila as this season's bitch, aren't they? It's only the third episode, and I can't tell you how many times they have zoomed in on Kaila's wide, glaring eyes, making her look completely stunned. Not a good look for her. The preview for the next Monday's episode, called "The Puck Drops Here" shows the Team Challenge that Dale and Pino will captain. They get to prepare lunch for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yay!!!

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