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Masterchef food challenges / guess the ingredient

Am I the only one who feels some of these are a little obvious? Spices and blended ingredients, ok... but identifying nectarines, plantain etc?

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  1. Not just you - it was laughably mindless.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rockycat

      but plantain...isn't that a staple of american cuisine?

    2. Agreed...but keep in mind, it is quite possible that someone from a certain area of the country who's been rather insulated in what they've seen in their supermarkets might not be able to guess a couple of things.

      But saying passionfruit vs. star fruit? How the HELL could he have missed that? The shape of the damn thing pretty much tells you! LOL

      9 Replies
      1. re: LindaWhit

        Perhaps they are geographically isolated, but I'd seen pictures of star fruit in magazines and on TV before I'd ever seen one in a store or tasted it. I presume from their comments that the contestants are FN addicts so it's probably safe to assume they've seen shows where people work with these ingredients. These were not off-the-wall ingredients by any stretch.

        1. re: rockycat

          Agreed, rockycat. But seeing them used by an Iron Chef or the like on TFN once or twice and actually working with them on a regular basis are two different things. Plus, the pressure of "The Pressure Test"...I guess I can understand missing one or two things on that table.

          I wish there was a list of what exactly was on the table, as so many of them chose the same items to guess. The slam-dunk items were many; the "hmmm" items were few.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            They should have a "play at home" version :)

            1. re: LindaWhit

              I agree rockycat. I thought the ingredients were incredibly easy. As a matter of fact, even my dh thought the ingredients were easy, and I can count the number of times he has made dinner on one hand during the entire 12 years we've been together. I don't work with a lot of those ingredients, but I think I could name them. However, Linda I think you are right by saying it would be easy to miss a few. I think the pressure of doing this on tv coupled with just not being 100% on all of the ingredients could do anyone in, especially since it was a sight test and not a taste test.

          2. re: LindaWhit

            But I thought at least most of these people are supposed to have had more than a passing interest in food. I live in small town Canada and I'm familiar with lots of things that aren't in my grocery stores.

            1. re: im_nomad

              Very true - but look at Whitney - she doesn't seem quite as well-versed in various foods as others might have been. Although she's been holding her own in challenges, that's for sure! I'm liking both her and Jake for the finals, unless either of them screw up.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                I can also see Whtiney and Jake making it through to the finals. Although, I thought Jake going home last night was a possibility when he wouldn't change his team's strategy after the red team pulled ahead.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  I just started watching Masterchef, been a huge fan of Hell's kitchen, so thought I would check this out. I like how everyone seems so encouraging to each other on this show - unlike the backstabbing of HK. Also pulling for Jake and Whitney -- both of them don't seem like they would fit in the kitchen as well as they do.

                  1. re: jguynn

                    "Also pulling for Jake and Whitney -- both of them don't seem like they would fit in the kitchen as well as they do."
                    I think that's why I like them both as well! As GR said, Jake's like a bull in a china shop, but he practically dances around the kitchen and is very good with his plating when it needs to be precise.

            2. The ingredients portion could have very fun, but instead I was appalled at how boringly they stretched it out.

              I would much rather have gotten a better feel for the skills of the contestants in this way: just have them, one by one, stand in front of the ingredients display, and have them name those they are sure of very quickly. Then go back and clean up the ones they sorta have an idea on. Then Gordon could name for them the ones they missed, for their edification and also that of the viewers. That schlocky drama of wasting our time, with them going back and forth to their table and plating each one, was ridiculous. I was glad that I was multitasking at the computer.

              Many of us probably knew each ingredient. I sure figured that the Lotus Root would stymie them all, but we never got to see.

              3 Replies
              1. re: FoodFuser

                I like your version of how they should name the ingredients, FF. The 20-minute drawn out drama of placing each item on a small white plate is a bit much. And don't forget the camera focusing on Joe or Gordon's faces before GR announces "Correct!"

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  FoodFuser, I really like your idea about how they should have approached the challenge. I also agree with both of you about putting the ingredients on the plates. I really hated the plates, especially since a lot of the ingredients didn't even fit onto those tiny plates, that really bothered me.

                  1. re: lizzy

                    I assumed that putting it on the plate was like saying "final answer" in millionare. Makes it easy to know when there is no turning back.

              2. It was hard to see on TV but I didn't one ingredient I couldnt' identify. The watercress might have been the most challenging since it could be confused with other green stuff. Why didn't that Jake guy pick something easier? There was still a ton of stuff that was easy like black eyed peas for example. Nobody apparently knew what morel mushrooms were or the lotus root.

                5 Replies
                1. re: John E.

                  I was surprised at the watercress pick as well, especially when there were many others that were easily identifiable. Although sorrel leaves are much more elongated than watercress, I thought.

                  I wouldn't have gotten the lotus root, I do know that. It looked cool every time the cameras panned past it, though. :-)

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    I've never used watercress, sorel or lotus root, but the lotus root is so unique, I remembered what it looked like.

                    1. re: John E.

                      My father used to eat watercress salads years and years ago, and while I didn't like the taste of it when I was young, I hope I'd remember what it looks like. :-)

                  2. re: John E.

                    Visually, I wouldn't have guessed watercress. I eat watercress too but the kind that I've bought are always more stemmy with much smaller leaves. I tried growing it one year as well and it also grew like that.

                    I wonder if they were allowed to taste some of the items as well.

                    I wished someone had guessed lotus root. I love lotus root and really wanted someone to point it out.

                    1. re: beetlebug

                      All of the watercress that I've seen that has looked like the one on Master Chef have been labeled hydroponic watercress. It's not as sharp as the stemmier watercress you're talking about.

                  3. I think the guy who didn't get the starfruit just didn't play smart. He even said that there were other things on the table that he knew but didn't state them first. Whitney, even though she may not be familiar with some of the ingredients, is a strategic player. She goes for the sure things including last week's chile taste. She's the only one who guessed cooking oil, which is a necessary ingredient but so obvious that people forget about it. Also, she played smart with the cupcake challenge in her choice of cupcake.

                    On a side note, on the halibut/Cat Cora challenge, I LOVED the cooking tip of tapping the side of the fish into the oil to see if the oil is hot enough. So easy but I never thought of it before.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: beetlebug

                      Yes! re: the fish cooking tip - as one of them said, something he'll remember to do from here on.

                    2. Is it too late to have the word "Spoilers" but in the title of this thread??? I haven't watched last night's episode but now I know that Jake and Whitney were in danger of leaving the show. Thanks, guys.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: dmjordan

                        Why would i have put "Spoilers" in my thread title when there were no such spoilers in my post?

                        And typically, if I am waiting to watch a show, I don't go on threads that talk about said show......(and usually it's fair game if it's already been aired)

                        1. re: im_nomad

                          Exactly. The title itself isn't a spoiler. In fact, they had a "guess the ingredient" challenge in last week's episode as well! The fact that you, dmjordan, chose to read the thread is your issue. Don't click on the link in the Food Media and News list, and you won't find anything out.

                          Oh, and just so you know? ::::SPOILER ALERT::::: Jake *wasn't* in danger of leaving the show. NOR was Whitney.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            LindaWhit, yes, it is my fault. As I said in my other reply, I though it referred to last week's episode. No, I don't need your kind and helpful advice on how the Food Media and News list works. When most people post on a specific episode, they usually refer to the date of the episode in the title. But thanks for your input.

                            1. re: dmjordan

                              When most people post on a specific episode, they usually refer to the date of the episode in the title.
                              Actually, I think that only happens on the long-running Top Chef threads. Using the term "spoiler" in those TC threads started in TC's first season, I believe, and it continued throughout the rest of the TC seasons. But I don't recall it on other shows. Perhaps now whoever starts a Master Chef thread will do so.

                              But you could have also stopped reading the entire thread after the first few posts until you saw the episode, as there still wasn't anything revealed about last night's episode. Passion fruit and star fruit were definitely *not* in the chili ingredient taste-test they had last week. Kind of a gimme that it wasn't about the chili Pressure Test.

                              But I think one could also guess when there's a relatively new thread on a show, and an episode *just* happened, perhaps it's about that new episode and it's best to avoid it.

                          2. re: im_nomad

                            I'm wrong. You are correct im_nomad--your post doesn't contain spoilers. But the replies do, but that's not your fault. No, I don't usually read things until I watch it; I thought it was referring to last week's episode when they had to guess the ingredients.

                        2. doesn't matter - the cute twenty-two year guessed more than everyone else on her team. too bad the other cutie didn't make it.

                          1. i'm pretty sure i could have gotten more than 20 - the watercress didnt look like i'm used to, but if i had smelled it i may have gotten it. i don't know if i said beef instead of fillet if they would have cut me, asked for more detail, or accepted. likewise was salmon enough, or would i have had to say smoked salmon (athough being there live im sure the difference was obvious) ?

                            the green one, was that chermoya? that one i wasn't sure of.

                            everything else i saw i knew. lotus root. okra. morels. macadamia. etcetcetc.

                            i dont think it was a tough challenge - though i'm sure it's harder under pressure than on my couch

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                damn, that's what i meant. damn brain farts. chermoya is the custard apple, right?

                                still - i know i, and probably everyone here, could have done better than 11

                            1. Why were we surprised by this week's "challenge" of identifying nectarines and golden raisins (?!) - last week they were "challenged" with identifying ingredients in a Texas chili. Really? Just by eyeballing it you could pick out five different ingredients.

                              1. Re the golden raisins: What would Gordon have done if one of them had said "Sultanas"?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                  Funny, I was thinking that when I saw them on the plate. I had just used golden raisins the night before and my box is labeled with both, I think.

                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                    I was thinking the same thing when you said chayote. What if someone said "mirliton" like they call it where I live.

                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                      Or if someone had called the star fruit "carambola."

                                      1. re: FoodFuser

                                        Or, when naming the beef tenderloin fillet, they answer:

                                        "Myologically, this is a section of the bovine muscle psoas major."

                                        But then, that runs the risk of Gordon getting really pissed, because he's heard the term "sore-ass major" applied to him personally many times before.

                                      2. does anyone know if there are going to be pressure tests? those are my favorite parts of AU MC

                                        1. I was in Barnes & Noble today looking for a book for my nephew, and wandered over to the cookbook section, as I always do. Something popped out from the stacks as the covers were turned out to face the reader - a silvery cover that said "MasterChef Cookbook".


                                          Supposedly not for sale until August 31st. Ummm, B&N didn't know that. :-/ Anyway, I glanced through it. Forwards by Joe Bastianich and Graham Eliot. Nothing from Ramsay. Good for letting a learning cook know what's needed in the kitchen (proper kitchen tools, pans, and the basics in spices/herbs/pantry items) and the basics on how to prep certain items (cutting up a mango comes to mind). Various wine notes from JB. Recipes are included from "The MasterChef Kitchen", JB and GE. Again, none from GR.

                                          But also included are recipes that the MasterChef contestants made on the show, including ones from episodes that haven't yet been seen. Interesting, based on the # of recipes from various contestants, I think it's pretty easy to see who the Top 5 contestants are (who I won't reveal here).

                                          I did find it interesting that they allowed MC contestants who were voted off the island to refine a recipe or two for the cookbook - Faruq was able to test and refine the cupcake recipe he made a couple of episodes ago until it was ready-for-prime-time publishing. I have to admit, it did look good - a raspberry red velvet cupcake. They had Jake's chocolate cupcake and Sharone's Hazelnut and Pistachio Cupcake, but they didn't have Whitney's Lemon Coconut Cupcake. Instead, they had Faruq's cupcake. So they don't seem to be including only the top 3 recipes from the initial challenge. Odd.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            their editors must pick the prettiest/easiest

                                            1. re: celfie

                                              hmmm...picking based on looks - how unreality tv-like!

                                              1. re: celfie

                                                REALLY? How is a lemon coconut cupcake harder to make than a raspberry red velvet cupcake?

                                            2. I missed this week's installment. Did anything significant happen?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: FoodFuser


                                                New thread was started. But not a whole lot of spoiler info there. Perhaps reading at TWoP will tell you. But I also think it's on On Demand, should you want to watch it.