This week, nine home cooks on “MasterChef” compete in the episode titled “A Little Southern Flare.” The contestants face a Mystery Box challenge where they need to battle it out in a fiery flambé competition. The person with the best flambé dish gains a huge advantage in the dreaded elimination test, where they must create a classic Southern meal.
The judges ask the contestants to open the Mystery Boxes in front of them. When they lift the lids, they see some matches and bottles of bourbon, brandy, cognac, anise liqueur and calvados. After that, the judges proceed to make a three-way cooking demonstration in the MasterChef kitchen.
Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Christina Tosi each show off their flambé skills by cooking in front of the contestants. Then they inform all nine cooks that they have only 45 minutes to make their own flambé dishes.
After an intense cooking session, the top three dishes are chosen by the judges. Tommy shines with his bananas Foster, topped with bourbon maple syrup. Katrina also makes it to the top three with her stunning sea bass and mixed seafood stew.
Those two dishes are spectacular, but Stephen’s impresses the judges the most. He describes it as a “garden on a plate.” He serves up sea bass wrapped in leeks and flambéed with some anise liqueur. He then garnishes it with an array of vegetables like asparagus and Brussel sprouts.
After winning the mystery box challenge, Stephen gets an advantage for the elimination round. He doesn’t have to cook and gets to choose the dish that will be prepared by his competitors. In keeping with the Southern theme, he is given a choice among three classic Southern comfort dishes.
In the end, Stephen decides on chicken and waffles over shrimp and grits or the classic creole gumbo. He heads up to the gallery but receives another surprise. He is given the chance to choose one cook who will only get 30 minutes -- the rest are given an hour to cook.
Stephen considers carefully and chooses Derrick. He says he sees Derrick as his toughest competitor and wants to send him home. Derrick takes it like a man and sits out the first 30 minutes, watching the others scramble on their benches.
After 30 minutes, all the contestants are done preparing their waffles and are frying their chicken, except Derrick, who is just starting. Stephen keeps taunting him, but Derrick refuses to get flustered. He keeps his head down and tries to concentrate on getting food on the plate.
When the time runs out, the judges taste Derrick’s dish first. He says that he knows that he has a target on his back but he’s not bothered by it. He pulls off a miracle and produces an awesome waffle, with great flavor. He also manages to cook his chicken in time by using tenders, instead of bigger pieces.
Derrick knows he’s safe and Stephen’s strategy failed. Hetal, the vegetarian who doesn’t eat chicken, also comes up with a miracle. She cooks an Indian-spiced chicken and cornmeal waffles that Christina completely gushes over.
New Orleans native Tommy continues to shine in the Southern-themed episode by coming up with a duck fat fried chicken. He paired it with waffles made with quinoa, corn and pecans. He and Hetal present the best dishes of the night and are designated team captains for the next week’s challenge.
Meanwhile, Nick and Olivia produce mediocre dishes but they are safe this week. Katrina’s use of miso in her chicken disappoints Gordon, but luckily for her, the two other cooks did much worse.
Claudia’s spicy cayenne chicken with citrus maple sauce lands her in the bottom two alongside Shelly. In the end, the judges decide that Shelly’s undercooked chicken was not good enough to keep her in the competition. She is sent home, and now eight home cooks remain with a chance to become America’s next MasterChef.
“MasterChef” Season 6 airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox.