Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Recap of MasterChef Canada Episode 203 "Constant Cravings" OR The First Mystery Box Challenge is Brought to You By....

Here we go. It's the first Mystery Box Challenge of season two. Sounds exciting, no? No, not really.

The Phyllo with no name. Who made you, poor Phyllo?
The first Mystery box contains standard fare: phyllo, pineapple, maple syrup, peppers, berries, walnuts, kale and "one succulent
pork chop". Meh. Oh, I forgot the cream cheese. How could I miss the obvious sponsor? The first Mystery Box is brought to you by Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Duh. I can also tell the phyllo was not made by a sponsor because it just gets a miserable typed label. It could have come from anywhere.

The judges give the home chefs one hour to create a sweet or savoury dish worthy enough to be served in a restaurant. Now remember, a mystery box challenge is a non-elimination round. It's only purpose is to determine a winner who is safe from elimination in the next challenge. Some people take the safe road - perhaps saving their energy for the elimination round, while others like to kick it into high gear in an attempt to win immunity.

Alvin goes up to Line, the military vet, to ask how she is doing. Line says she is unfamiliar with several of the ingredients, especially the kale. Alvin seems shocked at this...for some reason he is under the impression kale is served in the army. Yep...I am pretty sure they get truckloads of kale shipped in. Right alongside blaster guns and light-sabers. Oh, I think Alvin must have confused army cuisine with the superhuman qualities that spinach gave Popeye. Meanwhile, Debbie didn't line her pans and is afraid her cheesecake is going to stick. Pretty sure that's a given. Andrew is having troubles of his own. He has overcooked his single, allotted pork chop and is asking around for a spare. It's Kevin to the rescue. He's not using the one from his mystery box so he graciously gives it to Andrew.

The judges taste only 3 dishes - supposedly based on looks alone. Yeah right...remember the sponsor? Kraft cream cheese. There isn't a savoury pork chop in sight. I am now convinced that the Mystery Box challenge is a piece of cake. If you want to win, you use the product the major sponsor is pushing!

Line - Maple Fudge Pie
Jon - Trio of Cream Cheese Tarts
Kevin - Walnut Crunch Phyllo Cigars

They decide Jon's simple dish is the winner. And I do mean simple. Bake some phyllo, drop some
flavoured cream cheese in it and stick a berry on top. Did this really take a whole hour to do? I think it was a win by elimination. Both Line and Kevin's dishes were much more impressive. But Line's pastry was a bit underdone and Kevin accidentally left the paper in his phyllo. Ouch.

Jon gets several advantages. He is safe from elimination and gets to pick a dish for the elimination round. He is shown dishes from Indian, Chinese and Japanese cuisines. He picks Chinese stir fry. Not as easy as it sounds. The rice has to be fluffy, the meat tender and the veggies cooked but crispy. And wok cooking is an art form in itself. Jon also gets to save another home chef and he picks David. Not a great choice, Jon. You are supposed to pick someone you think you can easily better. Not one of the front-runners. Geesh.

More problems arise out of the inexperience of the home chefs, with several looking like they have never seen - let alone had, stir fry in their lives. I have no idea what Kyle was thinking, but he kept his ingredients in large pieces or completely uncut at all. Like his baby bok choy. Then there was Jennifer who didn't understand the "fry" part of "stir-fry". It was a soupy mess.

Out of nowhere, Jon is given another advantage. He gets to save yet another home chef. This time Jon chooses wisely and saves Jennifer. Something tells me Jennifer is going to get a bad edit this season...like she is going to be the one we all come to hate. Okay, hate is probably too strong of a word. But I still think we will be rolling our eyes at her antics a lot.

Two winners are named: Line, for her Crispy Sesame Beef; and Andrew for his Crispy Beef on Singapore Rice. It looks like beef was the way to go on this challenge. Line and Andrew will be captains in the first team challenge next week. Is that supposed to be a reward???

Three home chefs are called out for having the worst dishes:

Kwasi for his Vegetarian Stir Fry. The judges thought it was too simple. Lucky for him, two home chefs had worse dishes. He lives to cook another day.
Debbie - the judges thought her dish lacked flavour and presentation. She is eliminated.
Kyle - also eliminated because - as Alvin was quick to point out, his dish didn't even resemble a stir fry. How does one eat a whole baby bok choy with chopsticks?

My picks this week:
Impressed by Line and Andrew of course, but also Tammy.
Home cooks who look like future eliminations: Jennifer, Kwasi and Michael.
(There could be others - both good or bad, but we were shown little of them.)

Next Episode:

The remaining 14 home chefs are divided into two teams and must cook for an accordion, a bed spring, the Death Star and I think a llama too. It's the cast and crew of Cirque du Soleil. It looks like Line and Jennifer get into a scrap. Eye-rolling to come. And yes...the Feb 22nd episode is pre-empted for the Academy Awards. Episode 4 will air the following Sunday (March 1).