In another double episode of MasterChef — “The most. Explosive. Episode in HISTORY!” claimed a stunning Gordon Ramsay voiceover — we saw the Top 4 become the Top 3 following a dreaded pressure test that had me digging desperately through my cabinets to find even the oldest, grossest shavings of chocolate to snack on. I shall never learn. I need to just slather cookie butter on top of, like, six Twix and nibble on them gradually throughout the two hours. Boom. MasterChef.
Then, the judges narrowed it down to just two home cooks to compete in next week’s fin-ah-lee. And they are (SPOILERS JUST AHEAD)….
Natasha Crnjac and Luca Manfe!
Everyone’s least favorite MasterChef bully Krissi Biasiello finally got the boot first, after a nightmarish Mystery Box in which she and Jessie (pictured, above) had to pair up — because Luca, the last challenge winner, had chosen his biggest rival (and certainly NOT his friend) Natasha as his partner. This was a rather brilliant challenge, as both sets of partners seethed with equal parts “Let’s work together to win this” and “I’d sell my soul if only I could just get you the F*CK out of here.”
Jessie kept calling Krissi a cow but occasionally deviated, explaining, “I just got put with The Thing.” Things got nasty, for sure, and Jessie didn’t need to stoop to Krissi’s level. Krissi was already spouting off insane sh*t like “I am literally gonna take this hot pan and smash it in [Jessie's] face” along with my personal favorite of her empty (?) threats this season, “I have to get out of this kitchen right now or I am seriously gonna go to jail today.”
Krissi left the challenge! Jessie basically had to finish everything! It was absurd that Krissi was even eligible to compete in the Pressure Test after that. Of course, as Jessie pointed out, playing up to the cameras — Krissi shouldn’t even have made the Top 10.
This challenge was a supreme mess, with Natasha spooning out what looked like raw pastry dough into a bowl with seemingly less than 30 seconds to go. Krissi the expert baker had raced back into the kitchen at her extreme leisure to smear chantilly cream on some apples. No thank you. I mean, yes, I’d eat it, but I might not love it. The judges chose the lesser of two evils, Natasha and Luca, as the winners. It struck me as they gloated from the balcony that Natasha’s hair might be getting bluer by the day. She is a deconstructed Blue Moon ice cream cone who never! gives! up!
Poor Joe Bastianich never got to replicate his favorite feeling in the world — cutting into a moist, delicious chocolate molten lava cake — because both Jessie’s and Krissi’s were undercooked in a Pressure Test that also saw them preparing a chocolate mousse (“pure edible decadence” according to Graham Elliot) and a classic chocolate soufflé (“the most fearsome dessert in the whole f*cking world” according to who else but Gordon F*cking Ramsay). Jessie won the soufflé round with her salty batter, while Krissi’s mousse could not have been improved upon.
The real star of this segment, though, was Graham, who painstakingly focused on carving out the most exquisite mousse cones with his spoon. His achievement here was breathtaking, I’ve been there and done that! Is there a MasterChef for playing with one’s food? That might be one I could actually win. What the f*ck did you just say? Are you CHALLENGING me? I have to get out of this blog item right now or I am seriously going to go to jail tonight.
Joe delivered two of his finest INTENSE EYE CONTACT WHILE TASTING moments of the season as he sampled Jessie’s pre-exploded molten lava massacre and Krissi’s plate of pure slop. Normally this is where he’d make a huge show of just throwing the spoonful of food — and the spoon and plate and maybe his contaminated jacket along with it — into the trash. But not this time! We were down to the wire. The judges had to pretend they didn’t know all along who’d be going home.
Anyway, it was FINALLY Krissi who left. Note that while Jessie got a standing job offer to work at any of Bastianich’s restaurants during her exit, Krissi merely got an invitation for her and her son Mikey to join Joe and his mom Lydia for dinner at Il Posto. (I mean, I’d rather have the dinner. Who wants to work? But still.) Joe bald-faced-lied that eliminating Krissi was one of the hardest decisions he’d ever had to make in his life. Dude, you’re nuts!
Meanwhile, Gordon got surprisingly mushy with Krissi. “I don’t! Normally give hugs out that often. But! …. Don’t punch me.” Cute. And scary. LATER, KRISSI.
The second episode had much less drama and much more cooking, with a lot of emphasis on technique, personal journeys, and strategy. The Top 3 first had to elevate their audition dishes (audishes?) while showcasing how much they’d learned during the competition. But first, the judges made sure to make a grand show of revealing the three Mystery Box decoys: the $250,000 cash prize, a MasterChef cookbook mockup with Natasha, Luca, and Jessie beaming on the cover, and — hilariously — “the coveted! MasterChef trophy.” as presented by Gordon Ramsay. I had completely forgotten there was a trophy. The sky truly is the limit on this show.
Those particular three dishes looked awful and tasteless, so the chefs got to work on their own personalized Mystery Boxes stuffed with ingredients from their audishes. I thought Natasha’s rave reviews on her empanadas with skirt steak (I’M STARVING) would get her the win, but they gave it to Jessie instead because she showed masterful restraint in not serving something that looked “like a football” this time (sea bass en croute).
Gordon questioned Luca’s decision to serve a strong cheese sauce with his broccoli rabe ravioli when a simple brown butter with sage would have been perfect. He later overdid it flavor-wise with his pancetta-wrapped veal, braised radicchio, and frico (a rustic Italian potato-cheese-onion tart straight from the homeland) (SO VERY HUNGRY RIGHT NOW). I always feel like I would kill to sample Luca’s dishes the most out of these three, but might need to stop after four bites due to all the richness. These are actually my favorite types of meals because I like to have absurdly caloric leftovers in the fridge that I can just nibble on for like two days after. But that’s gross, and not really what most diners desire. So I wonder if Luca’s heavy flavor blasts will do him in.
Natasha has the opposite strategy: I consistently think I’m underwhelmed by her choices — a cold noodle salad for her Alaskan king crab? seriously? — but she executes simplicity so perfectly that the judges have little to complain about.
Would you rather be fat and happy with Luca or trim and satisfied with Natasha? Discuss.
Ha — remember when Natasha was in a huge bind and had to borrow garlic from Luca? Natasha refused to give Jessie one of her three spare sticks of butter during this week’s Elimination Test! It’s such a bitch move, but I have to respect her game because for weeks now, Natasha has not resorted to full-on nastiness. The sly grin she gave Jessie just before flat-out denying her was actually pretty cute. It wasn’t mean-spirited, at least. I don’t know. She’s grown on me so much. I think she’s clever.
So it’s farewell to Jessie Lysiak after she gobbed up her Kobe beef dish (something she’d never cooked before…her own fateful choice, too) with chunky vegetables instead of a lighter, acidic papaya salad/slaw. “You left the best. Part! On the bench,” Gordon lamented. I like to think that this papaya slaw still sits there on the counter of Jessie’s cooking station, hovering above her leopard-print racing flats. (Yes! We finally saw a mid-Pressure Test change out of high heels! So worth it.)
Your thoughts? Did you want to hurl your remote at the TV after the sixth or so “Well done….[COMMERICAL BREAK]” cliffhanger of the night? Have you already incorporated #cheeseplease into your Twitter vernacular? Can Luca pull off a win next week or is Natasha the obvious victor? Discuss!