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Sep 10, 2012 07:59 PM

Master Chef 09/10/12 - Finale Part 2 (spoilers)

I really thought that Josh would take this after seeing the dishes and plating, but Christine wins the title!

She stuck with home-style Vietnamese flavors, and had a very cohesive menu throughout - an appetizer of a cold "vegetable noodle" salad with crab on top and a fish sauce vinaigrette, a braised pork belly on rice with a quail egg on top, and a coconut-lime sorbet with ginger tuile. I thought it looked very simple overall, and that was noted by Gordon, Graham, and Joe. But Gordon also noted that everything went well together when served as a complete 3-course meal.

Josh's plating was fabulous. His lobster and grits appetizer with spicy sweet potato puree was impressive, but the lobster was undercooked, not as butter poached as they would have liked. His rack of lamb was beautifully done - and as Joe noted, he hit all 4 seasons - spring lamb, summer peas, autumn carrots, and winter parsnips. His dessert of bacon pecan pie with vanilla cinnamon ice cream disappointed on the pecan pie side, but all three of them loved the ice cream. It definitely sounds good!

But overall, it sounds like Christine's cohesiveness with her three plates won the day for her. Regardless, I think both will do well.

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  1. If Josh had only undercooked the lobster or only served an oily pie crust, he most likely would have won, but the two were too much considering Christine's dishes were technically fine (imo).

    As to that, this may be my last season watching MC (I'm sure they'll miss me). It's nice and all but even last season, a souffle was an accomplishment. This year, as one of the judges pointed out, the contestants were better prepared than the ones on Hell's Kitchen, and they're supposed to be professionals. Granted there is much less distance in knowledge and technique between dedicated amateurs and pros than there was even ten years ago, still much of the freshness of an amateur competition has vanished.

    There was never a sense that Josh or Christine improved their way to their final dishes, rather they finally got the chance to present them after all these weeks.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ennuisans

      The blind girl who cooked what her mother would have made when she was a child won. No disrespect to her at all. She seems to be a lovely person. It's a good story. But I doubt if I will tune in again.

      1. re: ennuisans

        Agree re: the freshness of an amateur competition being gone. They continue to refer to the contestants as "accomplished home cooks" but they're all much more than that. Much different from the first season.

      2. I thought Josh had it, I thought Christine sort of skated. If only he'd cooked that lobster.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mcf

          Not only the uncooked lobster, but the bacon in the bottom of the pie was a problem.

          1. re: SusieQQ

            Not exactly the use of bacon, but the sogginess of the crust which was suspected to be due to incomplete rendering of the bacon, as I recall the comment. I don't think that was fatal, though, but serving raw lobster was indisputably bad.

            I really liked both of these contestants equally and was thrilled they were the final two, but I do think Christine's meal was unambitious, allowing her to pull it off more readily. I think ambition and daring typify Josh's offerings. His food was far more beautiful, his ice cream was apparently incredible as were the lamb and the non lobster components of his first course.

        2. Josh should have won this just for the chances he took. Big deal, Christine served a perfectly cooked pork belly over a heaping plate of plain white rice. Really? They were both on the local NY Fox affiliate yesterday morning before the finale. What bothers me the most about this show is the fact that Christine CAN seen a lot better than the show (or she) has tried to portray. In the short segment, there was cooking going on....and I noticed at least 4 or 5 times where she was looking DIRECTLY at what was being done, or who was talking. I mean directly. The final confirmation was when plating was going on and the host said to finish the dish with a garnish of bacon, which was waaaaaayyy off to the side. Christine looked directly at it even before any motion was made to reach for it. I also noticed on lastnight's show, several overhead shots were shown and Christine's helper was nowhere in sight. We've been scammed!!! I'm with you chicgail...I won't be watching again, either!

          12 Replies
          1. re: Phoebe

            You know, many blind people have some sight. She has never said she could not see anything. I noticed last night she did not know who was there until she heard the voice of a family member when the contestants met with their families. This was no scam, this is just the way things are for many blind people.

            1. re: dbrodbeck


              "I see shadows," Ha said. "I think the best way for me to describe it is, if you were to come out of a really hot shower and looked into a really steamy mirror, that fogginess is what I see."

              So she *can* see shadows. When she turns to someone speaking to her, she can see their shape. She knows who it is by their voice.

              And who's to say she hadn't been made aware of the set-up prior to the segment being done? She probably already knew where the bacon was placed on the counter.

              So I would hazard a guess that scamming *didn't* happen. In this day and age, if anyone *knew* she could see better than she has stated, you don't think that someone would have been giving interviews to that fact already?

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Christine has also shared that she has been without clear vision for 5 years. Having had sight for most of her life (at this point).

                I am glad she won. I liked her menus and her appeal as the show progressed.

                Now I think the show needs a bit of an overhaul or it will go the way of many others and be predictable and boring. New judges, new challenge setups, new criteria for winning.

              2. re: dbrodbeck

                I forgot about that scene. She didn't even know her in-laws were there until her husband introduced them.

                1. re: dbrodbeck

                  I'm not faulting her...just the show for "playing it up" as much as they did. This happened at least 4 different times. She was looking directly at something she would have had NO idea where it was located. This didn't happen just once. You can believe what you want...I'm not here to argue. I'll just say that I know what I was quite obvious. Christine WASN'T the one doing the plating on the Fox am show...What would have been the reason for her to be told where specific ingredients were placed? If you had seen the am segment, you'd be in complete agreement that something was "fishy".

                    1. re: HillJ

                      Oh, she's a writer! I'll bet her cookbook will be well-written and fascinating to read. Hopefully the recipes will be good too.


                    2. re: Phoebe

                      The show is heavily edited. We have no idea (but I suspect) if her aide helped her set up the cooking station and told her where each item lay there so she'd have an idea where to reach. What you describe isn't evidence of more sight, but very likely more preparation as an accommodation of a disability.

                      1. re: Phoebe

                        They have a limited amount of time for each segment. Telling her where things are placed allow the segment to run smoothly instead of her fumbling around trying to find bacon bits and running her hand over a sharp knife and bleeding all over the set.

                        OK, I know. A bit much - but come on - the hosts have their moves blocked out as to where they're supposed to stand when they start a segment; why wouldn't the guests have the same thing?

                        1. re: Phoebe

                          I will hazard a guess and say you do not know many blind or low vision people. We are actually usually really good at doing stuff, getting around etc. Sight is not the only sense, and we tend to use memory a lot (where stuff is etc). We may look, to the untrained eye, to be not blind actually. I often get this sort of thing 'I had no idea your vision was that bad', when I explain about having 10 percent of normal acuity.

                          1. re: dbrodbeck

                            I can't speak for someone in Christine's position, but I do know that we actually know more than we think. Think about being in the shower, eyes closed so you won't get soap in your eyes - don't you know where everything is? Learned. So, using that example: if Christine knows the parameters of her board, the cooktop, and then moves on to actual work. It seems she uses a chef's knife mostly. It's placed perpendicular to the board, handle closest to her. She can run her hand along the bottom edge of the board until she finds the handle. Done. Food cut: knife is down on the board, push the food to the blade, now she knows where the edge of the food is, AND where the blade is. We need to use our knuckles as a guide, so she's gotten excellent at doing that just by feel. It's obvious, based on way her food looked so good.

                            So, that's the basic way I imagine it might be for some of the prep. However, I will admit, she's a whiz at every other thing that she can do, and beats me at it! Amazing!

                        2. re: dbrodbeck

                          I agree-I worked as a rehabillation counselor-
                          there is a legal definition of blindness-
                          there is also keyhole vision, etc.

                      2. Josh did a great job of cooking out on the limb and presenting upscale dishes where he only had a couple miss-steps. The undercooked lobster and the bacon pecon pie that was a little too light on the bacon flavor.

                        Christine cooked what I imagine flavorful Vietnamese dishes that for brightly flavored that melded savory, vinegary and sweet.

                        Smartly plated and risk taking - Josh should have won. However, for good tasting food, I would give it to Christine.

                        Personally, I'm happy they both made it to the finale. Both seem humble.

                        I do wonder how much research they were allowed to conduct while figuring out their meal.
                        Ice cream. Pecan pie. I don't know how to make those w/o a recipe.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: dave_c

                          "Smartly plated and risk taking - Josh should have won. However, for good tasting food, I would give it to Christine."

                          I don't think any of us have any idea how to evaluate the taste or whether our response to the dishes would be the same as the judges. They differed with one another at times.

                          1. re: mcf

                            I knew I should have added... "Based upon the judges comments, for good tasting..."

                            I figured it was obvious that I didn't need to.

                            1. re: dave_c

                              But the judges' comments were pretty evenly split when it came to taste. I didn't see a clear favorite from them at all. I believe that if his lobster had been cooked, Josh would've won, based upon the comments throughout.

                              It seems to me, they each had one superb dish, the main, and hers looked kind of unappealing while his was beautiful. He won dessert, I thought, based particularly on the big response to his ice cream, less so the pie. Her dessert underwhelmed, and both appetizers came up a bit short in some way, while having other excellent flavors.

                              Any way, hard to feel bad about either of them winning.

                          2. re: dave_c

                            I believe it's been mentioned before that the contestants have access to a large cookbook library when not filming - hence plenty of time to study/potentially memorize recipes. And surely, anyone even considering trying out for MC at this point knows the formula for the finale (a 3-course meal with 2 hours' prep) and would have some ideas for such well plotted out in advance. (Well, I know *I* certainly do. And yes, I pre-registered for one of the Season 4 casting calls...)

                            1. re: sockii

                              Good Luck! I hope you are selected.

                          3. I really really hate to say this, but I am more convinced than ever that she won because she can do what she does blind. It annoyed me to end how they praised her appetizer- so, had Josh done something ridiculously easy and nailed it- would it have served him better? ooohing about the "techniques" she used to make the salad? Josh's dish was complex, creative and beautifully plated. Actually all three were- whereas Christine's were surprisingly less appealing visually- and I say surprisingly because throughout the competition she's presented some pretty stunning dishes.
                            I also think it is so much harder to get a rack of lamb right on, then it is to pressure cook pork belly with coconut soda.....

                            I actually lost respect for the competition after seeing the six dishes and hearing the outcome.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: maisonbistro

                              But Gordon Ramsay *didn't* praise it. He actually thought it was beyond simple as compared to Josh's more complex lobster and grits. It wasn't until he had her second course that he agreed it worked extremely well with that second course and he could see the course she was taking with her plates.

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Yeah, I know GR didn't praise it, he also didn't praise her sorbert- he, and the others liked it, but didn't go gaga over it. Everyone talks about the "cohesiveness" of her three courses- well, yes, they were all Asian themed- and that is all she has done since day one. Josh has stretched himself and improved his plating tremendously since day 1- and I just think he was more deserving- I think if he had prepared her menu and she his- she would have won because of the complexity, the difficulty etc.... I am convinced of it.

                                1. re: maisonbistro

                                  Pretty much agree, and I like them both, but IIRC, she hasn't shown as much range as Josh over the course of the competition.

                              2. re: maisonbistro

                                As a composed meal though, I think that her appetizer fit well with the rest of it, which is whas Ramsay mentioned if memory serves.

                                One thing we have to keep in mind is that the show is edited, we did not see the entire deliberation of the judges.

                                Finally, other contestants throughout the series mentioned how good her food was. It seems some think that if she wins, it is because of her disability, and if she loses, it is because of the disability. I prefer to look at her abilities, she seems to be pretty darned good at cooking.

                                1. re: dbrodbeck

                                  The editing is also meant to build suspense so I'm sure they try to throw us off in some way. It's possible the race wasn't as tight as it seemed.