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

September 9, 2010 | 11:22 am


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