‘MasterChef’ Season 11 Finale Recap: Shaun Wins In A Tasteful Thriller
The two-hour MasterChef finale extravaganza began with a bang as it recapped some of the most defining moments of the season thus far, from Andrea’s mistake by 3 seconds to Nathan’s quite literal loss by TKO. Ramsey and Tosi then surprise visited all the contestants to double check on their prepared menu and their self-confidence. Brandi, Kentucky 5th grade teacher, Shaun, Las Vegas DJ, and David, professional Las Vegas poker player, all joined in the circular, arena-like kitchen for the finale. Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud joined Gordon Ramsey and Christina Tosi in judging of the menu each contestant was going to provide. As each finalist gathered their food, notable previous contestants remarked about which they thought was going to win out of the three, somehow creating an intense moment from such a simple action.
In the appetizer round, contestants were given 30 minutes to finish their food. Shaun showed a picture of his deceased father in the middle of his cooking while Brandi also had to talk to Wolfgang in regards to her inclusion of whisky in her dishes. Considerably stressful than every other episode of MasterChef, each finalist cooked with the utmost confidence and expertise. Brandi’s braised pork belly and butternut squash puree with parsnips was accepted with open arms by every judge, although Ramsey had a major problem with the citrus of the puree, to the point where he argued with Boulud in French. Beet cured salmon with egg and caviar with poppy seed vinaigrette, David’s dish, made Gordon state David had “balls the size of ostrich eggs,” considering he didn’t check the eggs beforehand. He was lucky in regards to the runny consistency of the yolks, but the flavor was a bit off, if not flat. Shaun’s miso halibut cheek with pickled marnel mushrooms was beautifully crafted, but Boulud was not a fan, as his mushrooms should never have been pickled in the first place. This criticism, however, caused Shaun to talk back, conveying arrogance to the judges who mistook his passion and creativity for ignorance.
The entrée round had more pressure in it, considering how the contestants now had a feeling of where they were in the competition. Two contestants have changed their preparation considerably in the preparation of this round; Shaun, playing more by the books with the same consistent artistry, and David, now focusing on flavor yet maintaining his risks. David, in the very last minute, had nearly dropped his finished products and had nothing on his plate. Shaun presented first with his beautiful spice-rubbed venison loin with cipollini onions, coffee, plums, green beans, and black truffle. He was met with the exact opposite of his prior round, being showered with praise with little to no criticism. Brandi presented seared duck breast with hushpuppies blackberries, pickled white strawberry, and greens. Gordon and Christina were opposite ends of the spectrum, arguing intensely over whether the presentation of the dish was beautiful and the best she’s ever presented, or gray, ugly, and a step back, Tosi’s opinion being the latter. David’s cabbage wrapped guinea hen with foie gras was already in a tough position considering it was unfinished, but as Gordon Ramsey called David over to show him how his hen was rare. This being said, the sauce was still incredible and the seasoning was superb, but his dish required too much technique and he had too little time.
The final and third round, dessert, gave the contestants a full 60 minutes to make a dish that will win over the judges. The last 5 minutes, the arrangement stage, was a spectacle to behold, as Brandi’s flambed peaches while Shaun received cheering for his artistic placement. Brandi’s cornmeal madeleine with bourbon caramel sauce, white chocolate mousse, and peaches, was promised to be light and fluffy in the middle rather than thick, dry, and heavy, and she did not deliver. She was criticized immensely by Ramsey, and while Wolfgang and Boulud found only some criticism with it, Tosi was in love with it, feeling that the dish came together in the end. David served a visually stunning sour cherry-stuffed cherries, mousse, chantilly cream, chocolate-gold crumbs and popped candy. The flavor was intense and well received by all judges but Ramsey, analyzing the fact that he had stuffed the cherry with sour cherry, defeating the purpose of stuffing by providing the same taste even if he had not stuffed it at all. The dish was light and contained 9 separate ingredients, yet it held itself together with appeal and quality. Shaun’s salted caramel dark chocolate tart with a raspberry proved to be simple and elegant, and the texture was a great quality of caramel, keeping shape when sliced yet still gooey. Ramsey thought the dish was “f*cking delicious” yet there was too much raspberry when considering the raspberry sauce on the side of the dish, and while Wolfgang thought the dough at the bottom was far too soft, Daniel Boulud thought it was more than acceptable considering the time allotted.
Each chef performed to the best of their ability, proving the decision to be very tough for the judges. All aspects of Brandi’s dishes were impressive except for the cornbread, David’s dishes were original and flavorful except for the entrée, and Shaun’s artistic meals blew the judges away, ignoring the blunders of his appetizer. In the end, the winner of MasterChef Season 11 was none other than Shaun. Was the finale a great ending for the season? Immensely so. MasterChef’s finale proves to be a tasteful thriller in more ways than one.
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