To say it was a huge get to have Jamie Oliver stop in on MasterChef Canada would be an understatement. The superstar celebrity chef has built himself an empire out of coming up with simple, accessible dishes that aren’t too frumpy when it comes to ingredients or plating. So to have him in the kitchen on Thursday night, supporting the remaining home cooks was not only brilliant guest-wise but coach-wise too. Oliver was supportive and inquisitive without being too critical and really pumped up the spirits of everyone.
“Jamie in the House” got right to the drama, as Oliver witnessed the Top 8 preparing a classic Italian appetizer plate using a range of fruits, vegetables and clams. The winning a dish will be featured in Jamie’s Italian restaurants (it wasn’t stated, but I’m assuming it’s only in his two Canadian eateries). The competitors were gaga over Oliver but had only 45 minutes to make something to impress the man. It was clear from the music edited in—and Oliver’s comment—that Barrie had way too much going on with his project and Aaron seemed to be on the right track. Thea, meanwhile, opted to make tortellini by hand and was worried she’d run out of time.
Despite Oliver’s concerns, he and the resident judges liked what they saw and requested Barrie bring his clams, sausage and greens appetizer up for tasting. Trevor’s warm fall vegetable salad and Thea’s pasta were chosen in the challenge; Thea’s appetizer was best of the bunch and will be on the menu at Oliver’s restaurant. It’s an impressive achievement and one that will fit on his menu nicely while giving Thea some instant cred in the process.
There was no time for Thea to enjoy her win, though, as Alvin, Michael and Claudio informed the eight their next test was imminent. An ultra-modern bento box was to be replicated, a tough enough challenge on its own. Throw in the fact it was a tag team and things went from bad to worse. Thea was allowed to choose the teams and wisely picked Mai as her partner, pretty much guaranteeing them a win for the week … until she was informed both she and Mai were safe and would not have to cook. Relieved, they sat and watched as Thea teamed Miranda with Aaron, Justine and Matt, and Barrie and Trevor and witnessed the hour-long craziness that ensued.
Trevor and Barrie started out strong, Miranda and Aaron seemed to be at odds and Justine and Matt were, surprisingly, falling apart. I expected two stronger competitors to be that way when they were paired, but that wasn’t the case. Matt was lost and unsure and most of the direction for Justine was coming from Mai and Thea in the gallery. As Michael said, rather than a help it was a distraction. Conversely, as the hour progressed it was Miranda and Aaron who got into a groove, tasting what the other was making and keeping each other focused; their only concern in the dying minutes was oil not hot enough for crispy tempura. Lotus root was left off the plates of both Miranda and Aaron and Trevor and Barrie; would taste save them from elimination?
Matt and Justine’s messy plate and exploded soba-wrapped shrimp left a bad first impression, as did uneven cuts, undercooked sushi rice and salmon with the skin left on. Miranda and Aaron were knocked for forgetting the lotus root, but their shrimp, sushi rice and beef were on point. Trevor and Barrie forgot the lotus root too but nailed the shrimp’s look and taste, faltered with their sushi rice and aced the beef. Everyone was pretty evenly matched, but Barrie and Trevor’s attention to detail saved them from elimination.
Unfortunately, Mai and Thea’s well-meaning help confused Justine and Matt and their lack of focus put them in the bottom for the week. Yes, two of the strongest home cooks were on the brink of elimination. And, because they shared in the blame for their plate coming up short, both were sent home. Yes, it was a shock but it also proves the judges aren’t playing nice when it comes to awarding the good food and punishing the bad.
MasterChef Canada airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.
Images courtesy of Bell Media.