I still remember the high school lunches I enjoyed in the cafeteria. Plates of fries soaked in gravy AND ketchup. Ham and cheese on a kaiser roll, wrapped in plastic and set into a steam table so one half was dried out while the other was soggy. Fish and chips covered in gravy. Tasty? Yes. Healthy? Heck no. And none of it was to the standard the food the kids received on Monday’s new episode of MasterChef Canada.
Last week, we said goodbye to Tony and crowned Jennifer and Andre the leaders in the Team Challenge. And, to put their performance in academic terms: the teams overall got a B. Arriving in Rotherglen Elementary School in Oakville, Ont., the teams were informed that over 160 kids from Grades 2 to 5 would be descending on them and eager for lunch consisting of a main, vegetable and dessert. (My first instinct? Mac and cheese, caramelized carrots with maple syrup and chocolate chip cookies.)
Jennifer planned to make sure everything was covered and nothing overlooked while her Red Team of Josh, Alyssa and Chanelle cooked. Andre viewed this as the perfect experience for his plan of running a catering company; he chose Jenny, Rozin and Cryssi for his Blue Team. It didn’t take long for the Red Team to settle on square pizza with square pepperoni, brownies and veggies and dip, while Blue clearly overheard me and went with macaroni and cheese with a bread crumb crust, chocolate pudding and raw veggies with dip.
Jennifer’s Red Team got down to work, splitting up the brownie and pizza prep. They were moving quickly, efficiently, quietly and confidently. The same was true for the Blue Team and it looked like everything would run smoothly. Wrong. Chef Claudio’s math quickly revealed a shocking fact: there was not enough time for Rozin to cook 161 portions of mac and cheese. More burners were needed. Over on the Red Team, grating cheese for the pizza was taking up valuable time too. They decided not to cut up the pepperoni into squares and dropped a vegetable from their veggies and dip. The Blue Team, after tasting the pasta, opted not to include beef (how much time did Rozin waste cooking it?) or finishing it in the oven.
After a frenzied service, it came down to the judging: Jennifer’s Red Team topped Andre’s Blue Team by 37 points, sending Blue back the MasterChef Canada kitchen for the Pressure Test.
Talk about pressure; the four home cooks had just 20 minutes to create a Catalan fish stew in a replication challenge. I Googled the recipe and read a variety of cooking times, from 20 to 75 minutes so, technically, it could be done. I’d like to know how the home cooks knew they had to toast the noodles for the dish. Did one of the chefs tell them that? I can only assume the answer to that is yes because the home cooks had never heard of the stew before, let alone that the noodles should be toasted. Jenny cut herself and required a medic. Undaunted, she continued to work one-handed.
The plates were completed on time, but Rozin’s dish held far less seafood than his competitors. He was hoping the taste was enough to save him and Chef Michael was impressed with the flavouring. Sadly, Rozin’s squid tentacles were undercooked. It was going to take a miracle to save him. Cryssi’s seafood and her plating wowed Chef Claudio. According to Chef Michael, Jenny’s mussels weren’t presented in the half shell and her pasta lacked a little flavour. Andre’s plate appeared to be the best of the bunch in looks and taste, opined Chefs Alvin and Michael.
It was no surprise, then, that Andre was awarded best dish. And, because it was a replication test and Rozin failed it, he was eliminated from the competition. I’m going to miss Rozin’s passion, enthusiasm and the baseball caps.
What would you have made for the school lunch test? Had you ever heard of that seafood stew before? Let me know in the comments below.
MasterChef Canada airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.
Images courtesy of Bell Media.