MasterChef Latino Gran Final Watch Party 4/8/18

The Basics
  • The host: Aracely Arambula
  • The judges: Ennio Carrota, Claudia Sandoval, Benito Molina
  • The prize: $100K and the title of MasterChef Latino

Last week, Caddy and Manuel went home.

The 3 finalists are: Sindy, Andres, and Lupita.

Round 1: Lupita went home.

Round 2:

  • Sindy had the better entrada.
  • Andres had the better postre.
  • The winner had the better main dish….

Sindy is the first MasterChef Latino. Read More

MasterChef Latino Semifinals Watch Party 4/1/18

The Basics
  • The host: Aracely Arambula
  • The judges: Ennio Carrota, Claudia Sandoval, Benito Molina
  • The prize: $100K and the title of MasterChef Latino

Last week, Sor Juliana went home.

The 5 semifinalists are: Sindy, Andres, Lupita, Caddy, and Manuel.
At the end of the night, only three contestants are going on to the finals. Those three finalists will be the three winners of tonight’s challenges.

Vegetable challenge

The contestants visit Homestead in south Florida. They’ll be cooking outdoors. The confessional shots on a tractor are silly.

For the first challenge, the contestants need to pick their own produce.

Aracely’s waiting in the cooking area. I frickin’ love that hat. And the earrings.

Their challenge is to agasajar (honor) the farm workers with an almuerzo (lunch). They have 45 minutes to cook and the judges will provide the protein.

After the chefs pick some ingredients in the field, they have access to a small pantry.

Chef Claudia’s a little weirded out that everybody’s making eggplant. A few people ditch their eggplant plans to do something different after hearing that.

Finally, when we’re not even in an actual kitchen, we get several “Yes, chef!”

The surprise protein is a whole pig, cooked by Benito and Ennio.

  • Sindy presents a tomato soup.
  • Manuel made a salad of grilled vegetables.
  • Lupita made sopitos topped with stewed eggplant and calabacita (zucchini).
  • Caddy did quinoa with calabaza (pumpkin), calebacin (zucchinni) eggplant, spinach, cilantro, and tomatoes.
  • Andres made a salad topped with eggplant parmesan.

As everybody chows down, they do realize Aracely is there, right? I’d be a little creeped out if I were eating a meal and the host is standing there to one side of the table. Why do they never feed poor Aracely?!

The eggplant parmesan salad, the quinoa, and the soup are all big hits with the workers.

Manuel talks about wanting to show people that hard work leads to success. Also giving yourself immunity. Just saying.

I can’t even listen to all the judge talk, I just need them to get to who won this one so I can stop mentally chanting “not Manuel not Manuel not Manuel.”

And it’s Andres. Aracely asks who he hopes will be joining him in the final. He picks Manuel and Caddy. To which I say…the f?

There are still two spots left and two more challenges to get through

VIP Challenge

The contestants will be cooking for some VIPs…the eliminated contestants. It’s nice to see them again. There’s a lot of hugging and crying. Some of the eliminated contestants name names, some don’t.

So, they’re supposed to make an unforgettable dinner for the eliminated contestants, but they won’t know who made what. And the judges are going to take their opinions into consideration.

The contestants have 60 minutes to cook, using protein and local ingredients.

They’re in the same outdoor kitchen. I’m sure they must have handwashing stations out there, but watching them handle raw proteins in a non-temperature-controlled environment without seeing a sink freaks me out.

It gets quiet around that table when everyone starts eating.

Sindy’s beef dish – Ennio comments on the difficulty of cooking beef to a point that suits everyone when you’re not cooking it to order. He suggests going for medium, but for him medium is already too much (on that we agree–I used to order it well done until I learned the joys of medium rare).

Manuel’s pork dish – The salsa is bitter, the rice is perfect, the pork is not cooked to everyone’s liking.

Lupita’s shrimp dish – pretty colors, but it needed salt.

Caddy’s salmon dish – good, but kind of simple.

The eliminated contestants try to guess who made what dish, but it ends up sounding like Lupita cooked three dishes. Claudia redirects them to name what two finalists they want to see. Most of the eliminated contestants pick Andres, Lupita, and Manuel.

They go back to the kitchen to announce the winner. Andres is already waiting on the balcony. I definitely don’t like the color of Aracely’s dress, but I’m intrigued by the ruffle. And I definitely don’t like the Transformers-logo-looking panel on the front. Now Claudia’s dress, I love and it looks like it’s easy to wear. (Because, seriously, who wants to be making sure they’re not accidentally dragging their sleeve through something all night long?)

MasterChef Latino Watch Party 3/25/18

The Basics
  • The host: Aracely Arambula
  • The judges: Ennio Carrota, Claudia Sandoval, Benito Molina
  • The prize: $100K and the title of MasterChef Latino

Last week, Arzobispo went home.

The 6 remaining contestants are: Sindy, Sor Juliana, Andres, Lupita, Caddy, Manuel.

Aracely’s dress is OK tonight, but it doesn’t strike me as anything special.

Skills Challenge

It’s a blindfolded taste-test.

  • Sindy got 10 correct
  • Sor Juliana 7
  • Manuel 9
  • And the winner identified 13…Lupita.
  • Andres and Caddy were at 12.
Team Challenge

The contestants will be paired up for the next challenge and Lupita gets to pick her partner first. She picks Manuel. She said she thinks their flavors will work well together.

Lupita pairs up Andres with Sindy and Sor Juliana with Caddy. She hopes Sor Juliana’s chill will rub off on Caddy.

It’s a fusion challenge. Chef Mario Christerna arrives with a tray of fusion foods like a Korean taco, a Latin lule, Morrocan elote, Peruvian banh mi, and African alcapurrias. He tells them to be careful not to make things too spicy and make sure their flavors are blending well. Andres gets a special warning to remember that soy sauce is salty. The contestants chow down.

It’s a tag-team challenge and they’re recreating all the dishes Mario brought them. They’ll have 80 minutes to cook and they’ve got all the equipment and ingredients they’ll need. The non-cooking partner can’t touch anything, but they can talk to their partner.

Sor Juliana cut herself. It was bound to happen eventually, but I’m glad it wasn’t too bad.

This is worse than contestants in the balcony. At least they’re somewhat quiet in the balcony, but the non-cooking partners were given permission to talk to their partners. And then the judges come around to talk…they’re giving me a headache.

Nice save from Lupita on the falling masa.

There’s just way too much shouting. I’m tuning a lot of it out.

I twitch when Aracely tells them there’s one minute left and asks if they heard her and they all respond “Yes, Aracely, we heard you.”

See, you can be completely ignoring someone and say you heard them. In theater, if someone says “One minute left” the appropriate response is “Thank you, one!” Which demonstrates that you didn’t just hear the person making a noise, but that you listened to what they were saying.

If your mood is reflected in your cooking, these are plates I wouldn’t want to taste.

  • Lupita and Manuel present first. Their dishes look pretty close to what Chef Mario presented. Or so I thought, but Chef Mario thinks it looks unappetizing. The nicest thing he says is that the elote was “good.”
  • Sindy and Andres are up next. Theirs also looked good to me, but Chef Mario says they forgot to put a stick in the elote, the tortilla is too thick, the crema with the lules needs salt, they didn’t cut their veg for the banh mi the same way he did, the alcapurrias are all different sizes and the masa is uncooked. And yet, he thinks they worked well as a team. Claudia makes some faces.
  • And finally, Caddy and Sor Juliana come up front. Their tray looks like they made all the dishes and then someone ate half. Chef Mario has nothing positive to say about the look of their tray. He likes the taste of the lule, he thinks they did a good job of saving the masa for the alcapurrias. Chef Benito can kiss my ass with his “Oh, you didn’t practice making tortillas?”

Chef Mario gets a head start before the contestants find out who won and who’s going on to the elimination round. Sindy and Andres won–they get to head for the balcony and they’re in the semifinal round.

Elimination challenge

They’ve got mystery boxes with ingredients to use in fusion cooking. The “Manuel has never done this before” joke rears its head again. One by one, they get a look at what cuisines they’ll be fusing. Caddy, Greek; Lupita, Japonese; Manuel, Indian; Sor Juliana, Thai. They have an hour to cook and shop and the pantry will be open.

Sor Juliana starts cooking some noodles with no cooking instructions on the box. Manuel’s going to make a chicken curry. He previously had no idea curry was Indian (side-eyeing this SO HARD). Lupita’s doing some fusion sopa and sushi.

In the last 15 minutes, Ennio comes around to make Caddy nervous. Claudia tells Manuel he’s not actually “fusing” anything if he makes curry with rice and beans on the side. Sor Juliana tells Benito that the holy spirit is guiding her cooking. You do you, hermana. Caddy’s breaking stuff. Manuel’s potentially breaking his curry sauce. Lupita starts cutting her sushi rolls. Benito praises Sor Juliana’s instincts.

OK, tasting time…

  • Caddy’s up first. She mistook ternera (veal) for cordero (lamb). She’s got cilantro in the tzatziki sauce, a toston instead of pita. Claudia feels like the Latin part of the fusion got lost.
  • Lupita’s up next. She doesn’t know what the noodles are that she put in her sopa. She used chile poblano and a chipotle cream in her sushi rolls.
  • Manuel brings up his chicken marinated in curry sauce. Benito doesn’t like the plating. Ennio didn’t think it was necessary to sear the chicken first. Claudia’s also not thrilled with the plating.
  • Sor Juliana’s last. She did rice noodles with sofrito. Claudia thinks the plate didn’t have much flavor. Benito thinks it was a good idea, but lacking in taste. She made the mistake of not tasting it before the shrimp went in.

The judges thought there were two good fusions–Lupita’s and Manuel’s. Good thing Manuel’s happy for himself. I’m not sure who else will be.

Caddy had good flavors, but not a fusion. Sor Juliana had a good idea, but her flavors fell short. They’ve both improved their plating a lot.

Sor Juliana’s going home. BOO! HISS! Damn, show, you made a nun cry.

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MasterChef Latino Watch Party 3/18/18

The Basics
  • The host: Aracely Arambula
  • The judges: Ennio Carrota, Claudia Sandoval, Benito Molina
  • The prize: $100K and the title of MasterChef Latino

Last week, Ángel went home.

The 7 remaining contestants are: Sindy, Sor Juliana, Arzobispo, Andres, Lupita, Caddy, Manuel.

Mystery boxes

The hyper entrance tonight is preceded by some product placement.

Aracely’s hair is totally ’80s. It shouldn’t go with that dress, but somehow it just does. I’m so fascinated with the hair I haven’t been listening to what horror awaits the contestants today.

In the mystery boxes tonight…a knife and tongs. Because pork. Specifically jamón ibérico. And Luis Osa is on had to teach the chefs how to cut it. He’s making nearly transparent cuts.

They have 30 minutes to make 3 plates of tapas featuring jamón ibérico. Benito reminds them NOT to cook it.

The contestants have 6 minutes to shop and four cutting stations. Again with the “Manuel has never done this” joke. They’re all doing OK cutting the jamón correctly, which only makes me wish they’d taught them basic knife skills for other stuff.

The judges wimp out tonight–they’re only tasting 3 dishes.

  • First up is Sor Juliana. They like her plating. She’s done tapas with potatoes, with olives, and with eggplant. The judges respond positively.
  • Next they try Lupita’s. She’s done one on corn tortilla, one on toast with olive, and wrapped asparagus spears. She also gets good reviews, but her chipotle got lost.
  • Andres is the last one. He did toast, tomato, and mushroom on one; wrapped asparagus spears on egg; and one with cheese.

They’re having a hard time choosing a winner. Before announcing their pick, Benito wants to remind them that tapas are finger foods you eat in a bar, it’s not formal. He tells Caddy she was close to being in the top three and her station was much neater today. And Manuel and Arzobispo need to do some research and find out what tapas are. (No jokes about Manuel having never heard of/seen/eaten/made/can’t remember what it’s called? They’re missing a prime opportunity there.) And lastly, Sindy should have been more aware of the time.

Andres, who has said he wants to open a tapas bar, wins the challenge. He wins a jamón ibérico, a knife, and tongs.

Pork challenge

Claudia explains that you can use every part of a pig to cook with, from nose to tail. She’s invited a Cuban chef with experience using pork in all of her recipes–Chef Ana Quincoces.

She brought them a pigs feet stew with rice that’s her mother’s favorite. Sindy was grossed out until she tasted it.

The judges have picked ten cuts of pork to use. Caddy’s kind of freaked out at seeing the whole thing on display. Claudia says it’s important for them to appreciate that an animal gave its life and there are multiple parts they can use.

Andres gets to pick his cut first and then decide the order in which the other contestants will make their picks. Manuel goes last because according to Andres, he’s the strongest competitor. Suuuuure.

They have 90 minutes to cook and free access to the pantry.

Manuel is planning to make chicharrones with rice and beans. I don’t know how I feel about Chef Claudia telling Manuel that “this is the MasterChef Latino kitchen” and they expect something that’s “otro nivel.” She followed that up with “It might be part of our roots, but you also have to be looking toward the future” which sounded a lot less judgmental.

Caddy’s cut herself twice. Yeah, some basic knife training might have been a good idea.

  • Manuel presents first. Uh, I agree with Ana–chicharrón is just the fried skin. Manuel says it could also mean the leg? I don’t think I’ve ever heard that. He uses the “e” word. “Elevated.” I roll my eyes
  • Caddy made a chop on a potato puree. And somehow she’s put most of the food on only half the plate. What is with Chef Ana bugging Caddy to smile? Do we not get enough of that crap already?
  • Arzobispo made pigs feet stew…and did not remove all the bones. Benito thinks Arzobispo has served better dishes.
  • Andres made teriyaki pork ribs. Ennio says it’s salty since the soy sauce was cooked down. And dry because he’d cut it in such small pieces.
  • Sor Juliana made a mofongo. Her dish is missing some sauce.
  • Lupita brings up her chamorro enmolado with rice and tortillas.
  • Sindy’s last. She made a breaded pork loin, fruit salad, and a potato and bacon puree.

Manuel’s dish wins and he goes up to the balcony.

Sindy’s still bitter about not getting to pick her cut of pork sooner. She, Andres, and Arzobispo are up for elimination. Caddy, Lupita, and Sor Juliana are all safe.

Elimination Challenge

Sindy, Andres, and Arzobispo have to cook with the three remaining cuts of pork. Sindy gets neck, Arzobispo gets skirt, and Andres gets ear. They’ll have 75 minutes to cook.

Cindy is freaking out at the time limit. She’s never cooked neck and never used a pressure cooker, but she’s assuming she’s going to need to use one to be done in time.

Everyone is freaking out that Andres is cutting up the ear. When he opens his pressure cooker, it’s still chewy and his beans aren’t cooked.

Cindy freaks out again when she opens her pressure cooker and the neck meat falls completely apart. She’s sobbing while she plates.

  • The judges try Andres’ dish first. He’s cooked the pig’s ear osso bucco style and served it over rice. Then he mentions a “gremolata” and Ennio calls him on not having the “right” ingredients in it.
  • Arzobispo is next. He calls it pineapple pork. Ennio thinks the different elements are fighting with each other. Claudia says the pork didn’t shine.
  • And finally, Sindy. Benito dubs her dish cuello al llanto. Sindy explains she was crying from happiness. I have no idea what the random shot of Aracely’s face was about.

The judges thought all three did great this round. But someone still has to go home and that’s Arzobispo. He’s shown a lot of improvement in the course of the show. The judges hope he continues learning.

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