Teenagers and birthday cakes. That's what was at stake for the latest episode of MasterChef, featuring Vegas-based poker pro David Williams. Episode 9, titled A Piece of Cake, was centered around a Sweet 16 birthday party. The final 12 were split into two teams of six and they were tasked to create a special main dish for teenagers celebrating their 16th birthday.
The home cooks with the best dishes the previous week – Katie the personal trainer and Eric the fireman – were selected to be team captains. Eric won last week, so he got the first pick as captain of the Red Team. Katie had a slight disadvantage with the second pick for the Blue Team. The draft was not about who was selected first as much as who didn't want to be stuck with the worst home cook remaining. The remaining contestants had very little respect for young Nathan, the preacher's son from Florida. His millennial temperament, inexperience, and overall weirdness made him the odds on out to be the last pick, which meant that Eric got lucky because Katie had choice but to pick Nathan.
- RED TEAM: Eric (Captain), Terry, Dan, Tanorria, Shaun, and Alejandro
- BLUE TEAM: Katie (Captain), Brandi, David Williams, Andrea, Diamond, and Nathan.
Katie picked Brandi first, but she snatched up David Williams with her second pick. You could sense everyone on the Blue Team was bummed out with Nathan as their final member, so they almost looked at this as a 6 on 5 competition.
Chef Ed Lee (from Top Chef fame) was the guest judge for a second week in a row. He introduced two huge purple gift boxes which contained different ingredients for each team. The box each had one specific proteins and other components and the teams had to quickly figure out a menu based on what was in the box. The Red Team peeked in their box to discover chicken, bacon, and mushrooms. The Blue Team uncovered jumbo shrimp as their protein, along with corn, rice, and chilies. The teams had ninety minutes to get the food cooked and plated.
The Red Team captained by Eric the fireman instantly agreed to whip up a bacon-wrapped chicken, whereas the Blue Team, managed by Katie, opted for a chili-citrus marinade for the shrimp, along with grilled veggies. After some consultation with the judges, both teams tweaked their menus.
RED TEAM: Pan-Seared Chicken with Candied Bacon, Sweet Potato Mash, and Balsamic Glaze
The Red Team appeared to be better organized and everyone got along well together as teammates. After a quick chat with Chef Ramsay, the Red Team nixed their puree idea. However, overall, it seemd like they were putting too much emphasis on their veggies. Guest judge Chef Lee mentioned that the protein should always take top priority in the menu and not the side dishes.
When it came time for service, the red team moved with speed and precision. However, their quick service came at a near fatal price… the chicken was undercooked and still pink in the middle. Chef Ramsay went berserk. He jumped down their throats and told them they could kill their guests if they served uncooked chicken.
"I don't want one teenager spending the night in the hospital," screamed Chef Ramsay.
BLUE TEAM: Grilled Shrimp with Coconut Rice, Sugar Snap Peas, and Chili-Lime Sauce
Team Captain Katie assigned Brandi and David Williams to work on the star of the dish… the grilled shrimp with a chili-lime sauce. Williams handled grilling duties.
When Chef Ramsay checked in on the Blue Team, he was not impressed with the wide variety of foodstuffs with too many contrasting ethnic flavors. He told them to get a more concise style and they 86'd the grilled corn. The Nathan issue was clearly a problem. The Blue Team wanted Nathan out of the way, so Katie gave him simple tasks to do like grill corn and cut tomatoes. Once the corn dish got removed from the menu, Nathan was like a lost puppy in the kitchen.
With Nathan not really pulling his weight, the Blue Team got way behind during service. Chef Ramsay told Katie that her Blue Team was falling behind and they needed to begin plating ASAP. Tensions flared as they struggled to plate all the dishes with exactly three jumbo shrimp per dish. A couple of the dishes only had two shrimp. Andrea and Nathan bumped into each other as the clock was expiring. Andrea thought Nathan shoved her with too much force, but he was determined to get the correct amount on shrimp on each plate.
VOTING RESULTS: 80% to 20%
Initially, the way the scene was cut, it seemed like the majority of the Sweet 16 teens loved the bacon-chicken. However, the teens also dug the shrimp, especially the size of them. When all the votes were tallied, Chef Ramsay said it was a landslide with 80% of the votes going toward the Blue Team. Yeah, four out of five teens at the Sweet 16 preferred the Blue Team's jumbo shrimp with chili-lime sauce over the Red Team's bacon-chicken dish. Despite the internal problems and late plating, the Blue Team executed the better dish. A lot of that credit went to David Williams, who made sure every piece of shrimp was cooked properly. Every member of the Blue Team faded elimination, including David Williams. The Blue Team headed up to the balcony, while the Red Team were forced to cook a second time during a Pressure Test.
ELIMINATION PRESSURE TEST
For the Pressure Test, losing team was tasked with baking a flawless three-layer birthday cake in under 90 minutes. The loser of the challenge, or the home cook with the worst cake, would get eliminated while the other five would be saved.
Eric the Fireman had a good-tasting Lemon Sponge Cake with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting and White Chocolate Ganache. However, it looked pretty ugly. Chef Lee was being kind when he said, "It looked like a five-year old put it together." Ouch. Sick burn.
Despite a rough start, Shaun the DJ whipped up a Raspberry Sponge Cake with Blueberry-Lemon Frosting and White Chocolate Ganache. Shaun's cake had dazzling visual aesthetics.
Terry baked a Vanilla Sponge Cake with Raspberry Puree, Lemon Curd and White Chocolate Frosting, Terry used a special recipe that he cooked at his wedding. His cake looked awesome on the outside. It was delicious, but not exactly perfect lawyers. Overall, despite the uneven frosting, Chef Christina was impressed.
Tanorria's baked one of her favorites – Lemon-Lavender Sponge Cake with Blueberry, Lavender Garnish, and Blueberry Frosting. She had a couple of errors with its insane sweetness, plus she two different colors of blueberry frosting
Alejandro wasn't happy with his Vanilla Sponge Cake with Lime, Passion Fruit, Chocolate, and Buttercream Frosting. It looked unfinished and most of the frosting melted inside his cake because it did not cool down in time. Alejandro was the clear favorite to get booted at that point.
Dan created a Chocolate Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting and Crushed Oreo Cookies. The top of the cake had a nautical theme. Chef Ramsay was not amused with his "anchor chain" made of chocolate chips and pretzel sticks. Despite the anchor fiasco, Chef Ramsay was impressed with the complexity of the cake and thought it was rather tasty.
The top three cakes were baked by Shaun, Terry, and Dan. Shaun the Vegas DJ won the Pressure Challenge with the best birthday cake. His special Raspberry Sponge Cake with Blueberry-Lemon Frosting and White Chocolate Ganache was a hit with the judges. Since he won the Pressure Challenge, he obviously advanced.
Terry's Vanilla Sponge Cake with Raspberry Puree, that used the same recipe as his own wedding cake, had some flaws but they were minor overall. Terry moved on. The judges also liked Dan's Chocolate Sponge Cake with Buttercream and Crushed Oreos. Despite the anchor weirdness, Dan was safe.
It came down to the three worst cakes: Alejandro, Tanorria, and Eric. In the end, Alejandro's Vanilla Sponge Cake with Lime, Passion Fruit, and Chocolate was the worst of the bunch. Eric and Tanorria bared survived, but they advanced to the next round. Alejandro was busto.
David Williams advanced once again. He's among the final 11 home chefs still alive and seeking the title of MasterChef. Williams did not have to bake cake because his team won the Sweet 16 challenge, but here's a cake he whipped up at home…