Some of my favourite episodes of culinary competitions challenge the contestants to show their knife skills. Top Chef Canada All-Stars did it a couple of weeks ago when the chefs prepped ingredients in a speed test and MasterChef Canada did it this week with salmon.
“Take Five” began with Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung and Claudio Aprile performing a masterclass with the ruby-fleshed fish. I was hoping the trio would explain what was in their glaze, crust and poaching liquid so I could replicate the recipes at home, but editing cut all that down to before and after shots. Pity. I’d also hoped the judges would demonstrate how to properly break down a salmon, pulling out pin bones and filleting it for their recipes. Instead, we had to sit through agonizing moments watching Miranda’s knife slide around inside her poor salmon.
Claudio questioned Barrie’s decision to pair a lemon cream sauce with his rich, crusted fish and Alvin was excited to try Trevor’s fried fish eyes. Urp. Miranda, Trevor and Barrie had their plates tested and Trevor was nailed for his grainy potato purÃ©e. And though Claudio was still critical of Barrie’s cream sauce, he liked the crust on the fish. It was Miranda, with no experience breaking down or cooking salmon, who won this week’s challenge. (The look of shock on Trevor’s face was stellar.)
The Elimination Challenge was a major curve ball. After weeks of access to copious ingredients and a tricked-out pantry, the Top 5 were tasked with using just five ingredients in their next creation. As if cooking with just five things wasn’t difficult enough, once everyone was done shopping Miranda’s advantage kicked in: she switched all the baskets. Thea got Mai’s basket of pasta ingredients, Barrie received Thea’s halibut and corn, Trevor was given Barrie’s beef broth and chorizo sausage and Mai got Trevor’s pasta ingredients. I’m not sure if Miranda was playing favourites or not, but she gave Mai four of the five ingredients she’d initially picked, so Mai definitely had an advantage. Miranda, naturally, kept her own basket containing flank steak.
Thea had issues immediatelyâ€”she’s allergic to shellfish and has never prepped shrimp beforeâ€”and began deveining the little critters by cutting into their bottoms. No vein there, Thea. Miranda, who has helped so many of her competitors in the past, stepped up again and showed Thea what to do before returning to her own station. Would the fact Thea can’t taste her dish hurt her chances at staying in the competition?
Trevor’s shrimp succotash was impressive, though Alvin wanted two heads to go with the two tails. Still, the flavours were there. Miranda, who kept her ingredients and had an advantage, undercooked her steak andâ€”more grievouslyâ€”cut it against the grain, a major no-no on a tough cut of beef. Unless everyone else messed up royally, Miranda was going to taking off her apron. Mai’s amateur plating was offset by delicious egg-filled pasta and Barrie’s halibut and corn was a winner. It all came down to Thea … and she erroneously included a vein in shrimp onto her pasta. Barrie received top marks for the week with Trevor close behind, leaving Miranda and Thea, unsurprisingly, in the bottom; Miranda was shown the door.
I’m going to miss Miranda’s humour and, most of all, her gamesmanship when it came to supporting the other home cooks. Were you surprised Miranda was eliminated? What have you thought of this season so far? Let me know in the comments below!
MasterChef Canada airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.
Images courtesy of Bell Media.