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'MasterChef' recap: The final four -- with a recipe? [Updated]


Hey, wait a second. Was that a recipe?

Whitney's head was practically spinning 360 degrees while making those souffles during the pressure challenge, and it sure looked like she was reading a recipe. What did you think of that? Should a "MasterChef" wannabe be allowed to fall back on recipes? Or does that just reflect reality: How many people, even experienced pastry chefs, can actually whip up a souffle without at least glancing at a recipe? (I have asked the folks at Fox what Whitney was referencing, and will let you know what they say.)

[Updated at 12:58 p.m.: Fox says that Whitney was indeed using a recipe. When it comes to baking challenges -- and only baking challenges -- contestants are given a “basic blueprint” recipe they can use or choose to ignore.]

Which brings us to the question: What do you want in your MasterChef? Do you want someone who can teach (meaning someone with a depth of cooking experience to share, despite a lack of formal culinary training)? Do you want someone who can inspire (meaning someone who will help you take your cooking up to the next level)? Do you want someone wildly creative? Or do you want someone who does a very good job at following recipes?

I am mixed on this final four.

First off, I would have bet money that Sharone and Mike would have made it to the end. (Good thing I am not a betting woman.) But when I look at this final four, and I start thinking about the title of the first-ever American "MasterChef," and I think about the career they have ahead of them .. I can't help but ask: Do any of these folks measure up?

Whitney can cook, no doubt, but she is incredibly inexperienced -- why would you use canned tomatoes??? And why would you confess that?? Do I want to look to this giggly twentysomething for culinary guidance if the best she can do is follow a recipe?

Sheetal is probably an amazing vegetarian cook. But think about that title: "MasterChef" -- does it apply to her? (Actually, we do need to get more vegetables into our diet, so maybe it does.)

And so, in my mind, it comes down to Lee and -- so help me -- the annoying David. But I really don't look at either of them with hot anticipation toward a cookbook, a TV show or anything else. They just strike me as really good home cooks who can follow a recipe, and occasionally improvise.

And if that's the qualification for the next "MasterChef," then I vote to bring back Tracy -- and her mom's recipes.

The single best line of the night went to judge Joe Bastianich. And you know what it was, right? The copy desk won't let me repeat it here. But it clanged.

--Rene Lynch

Photo: Mike during the venison challenge, and before he was sent home for a dessert that had -- bleck! -- raw egg on top of it. Credit: Fox

Comments () | Archives (13)

I wondered if they were allowed to use recipes. I cant imagine they didnt reference them throughout the competition, especially in the baking challenges. There is no way someone who doesnt know how to bake made a cupcake for the previous challenge without a recipe, you have to use precise measurements for baking. I bake ALL THE TIME and still reference the recipes.

The reason they are permitted to use a basic recipe when baking items only is because baking is chemistry. Amounts are crucial to the success. Everyone who cooks and bakes knows that. It has nothing to do with creativity.

Sorry I'm with the author. This isn't Betty Crocker cookoff. The title is "MASTERChef"... if you are truly a Master Chef, you can cook ANYTHING without a recipe. With Sharone gone, I'm out - no real reason for me to watch. I wouldn't root for any of the remaining contestants.

To Sharone: Bummer you have to resort to this! Whitney cooks with precision. Until now you two were my top 2 and I was really bummed you had to go-lets face it - at the end of the day it s the mastery of chef abilities. I thought your passion would do you good sharone but I think a bit has gotten to your head. You are not here to be discovered for thinking outside the box. In reality you are here to out-perform and execute mastery skills. I can't wait to remove myself from this page. Its nice to know the meaning of being humble. Thank God for free press because this article is skewed in one direction and instead for being unbiased toward talent I smell a bitter rat. Later!

Baking is truly chemistry, where precision matters. I would be hard-pressed to call it a competition without some leveling the of the playing field relative to this chemistry. No one I've ever met bakes without a recipe, especially when time is of the essence.

Mentoring seems to be the crucial aspect of MasterChef as a show. Why else would Gordon offer to put Sheetal's crab in the pot of boiling water?

I've actually been impressed with how David has toned down over the course of the competition. And I look forward to the finale. I don't have the foggiest idea who is going to pull off the win.

Sharone is talented -no denying. Sheetal not as much and I'm surprised she's still there. Lee is quality and I predict he'll win it.

To me, the premise of the show is to mentor amateur chefs as one emerges to be the MasterChef.

Is having a basic blueprint recipe for a dessert really different than the judges walking around, offering advice...in some cases, telling contestants they are doing things incorrectly? In the hamburger challenge, Chef Ramsey allowed the team that was losing to taste the burger of the team that was winning to give them a chance to change things up to cater to the customer (they declined, but were given the chance). In the wedding challenge, they stopped burned appetizers from going out to the guests...again, essentially giving the team that was "behind" to have a do-over and try again.

I have no problem if Whitney followed a basic blueprint of a recipe - for one, that doesn't guarantee results. For another, how do we know that Sharone did NOT look at the recipe?

The final four, by the way, is fine by me. I am not sure exactly why some of these contestants shouldn't be here, while others should be here. You screw up, you are out - let us not forget that Sharone's dish was panned by the food critics. It's not just the dessert that did him in.

I have no problem if Whitney followed a basic blueprint of a recipe - for one, that doesn't guarantee results. For another, how do we know that Sharone did NOT look at the recipe?

The final four, by the way, is fine by me. I am not sure exactly why some of these contestants shouldn't be here, while others should be here. You screw up, you are out - let us not forget that Sharone's dish was panned by the food critics. It's not just the dessert that did him in.

Typical hit piece from a times columnist. Whitney is the best of the best and deserves to win Master Chef.

I figured they had to have basic recipes for baking back in the cupcake challenge. There's no other way to do it for pretty experienced bakers, let alone contestants like Sharone who had never made a cupcake before. Nothing wrong with that; that's just how baking is as many have also commented. Especially with souffle, which is a complex process!

I personally think that Whitney is doing a very good job. She has the highest potential of all who were accepted in the show.

I have worked in the food industry. A recipe is used in all the restaurants you go to.

That is the only way you will get the same taste for the item each time you order it.


I challenge anyone on here who says you shouldn't use a recipe for baking. You can be a fabulous chef, (like my husband)but totally suck at baking. It is a science, to be sure. And no one expects you to have a recipe memorized.
All the contestants rocked and I would have been happy had either of the guys or Whitney won.
As for Sheetal, I know you can do curry a million ways, I just thought it was overused. Her meltdown over the crab was weird. I missed the fishing expedition. How did she do on that?

Well, in looking at the limited knowledge of the contestants, including the winner... the show should be called MasterCook or GoodCook. The term chef is thrown around so easily as to make it meaningless. The guy at the corner hotdog stand might as well be called a chef.

Uncooked shrimp in the last challenge? Really? Normally Ramsey would have spit it out.

His is fine dining in NYC, hers is southern diner food (their words) but Whitney's a "Masterchef"? These shows are getting nuts.

This is what happens in economic down periods... everyone with a stove is a chef, anyone with a camera is a photographer and everyone with a brush and a bucket of paint is an artist. Pfft!

if you check the charts sharone was the most consistent. he was always on the top 3. the burger challenge was one of those that showed why i still believe he should have won MC USA. aside from the fact that he innovates, he cooks everything perfectly. always on the top3 and never on the bottom 3. even that dish that didn't look great, tasted awesome and perfectly cooked. i definitely believe that joe said the right words when sharone was eliminated.


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