July 30, 2012 01:00 PM by Christine McDow
Eventually it was going to happen. Gordon Ramsay was going to try to show off his rodeo skills by bringing the rodeo to the MasterChef stage. A couple of weeks ago he came in, on horse back, and all the contestants ended up blindfolded once again! It was a crazy week on the MasterChef ranch, but Monti Carlo got through it! She has written a blog to tell all her fans all about it. Keep reading below to see what Monti Carlo has to say!
We’ve been blindfolded again. I don’t know what to expect for our next team challenge, but I know this much: it will be on some sort of ranch. I grew up on a dairy farm and the sound of tires on a dirt road is like an old friend calling out to me. Even though the windows are shut tight, and the AC is on full blast the stench of cow manure permeates through the transport van. We finally come to a stop and as soon as I step out I’m slapped in the face with heat. It must be 95 degrees out. When I remove my blindfold it takes a minute for my eyes to focus.
About a hundred yards in front of us there are covered wagons brimming with fresh produce. The wind is whipping everything that isn’t nailed down. There are two huge grills set up and three camp stoves. As we approach the scene I focus in on the production team members re-lighting the stoves. The wind is too much for the jet stream fire. YIKES. I make a note to rely as little as possible on those stoves.
I turn just in time to see Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich riding in on horses, or at least trying to. The horses stop to graze for a few minutes and you can tell their riders are inexperienced. They finally head towards us, the horses doing more of a slow walk than a trot. From the left I see Graham coming in on a small wagon, all Little House on the Prairie like. All three of the judges look like they’ve just stepped off a western movie set, but the only one that looks in his element is Gordon. Man can that dude fill out a pair of jeans.
It’s my first time as a Team Leader and I want to be the BEST Team Leader in MasterChef history. I know it will be tough, since I am competing against Frank but I feel like I have a solid plan. I want to build a team of underdogs because underdogs have FIGHT. I choose Stacey first because she hustled in the Food Truck Challenge and I need that kind of spirit on my team. I choose David second because I need muscle to unload those wagons and I know that he’s eager to prove himself after his Fish Challenge fail. I start to sweat it when it’s down to just Felix and Christine. Felix has clearly stated that she wants to be on Frank’s team and I’m hoping Frank chooses her. I need Christine’s impeccable palette. I’m beside myself when Frank picks Felix and I get all of my top picks. Success!!
Then Gordon gets that mischievous smirk and I know things are about to change. He drops this bombshell: Frank and I have to exchange aprons; we will be leading each other’s teams. I’m immediately put off kilter. Frank’s team is made up of Becky, Josh and Felix. They are the MasterChef All-Stars and I know that they don’t think much of me. Josh has admitted to calling me a fluke. Felix and Becky both have admitted to me that they think I lack creativity and that I got to the Top 8 by memorizing recipes. I try not to freak out as my dream of reenacting the MasterChef version of the Bad News Bears fades into oblivion.
The tension is palpable as producers have us flip a coin to see which team gets first choice of protein. Up for grabs are Rib-Eye Steak and New York Strip. I win the coin toss and choose the Rib-Eye. Frank gets first choice of starch: potato, sweet potato or rice. He chooses the potato and I have to make the call between rice and sweet potatoes. Watching the wind blow out our stove fires, I know we can’t cook rice. Rice is a delicate starch and with that inconsistent flame we would end up with 100 servings of mush. We have to go with sweet potatoes AND I HATE POTATOES. They were almost our downfall in our military challenge, and were the noose around our neck in our hotel challenge.
We throw around a few ideas for a second side item. Becky wants to make beans, and though I’m sure they would be delicious the texture is mushy like the mashed potatoes we have decided to make. Felix thinks we should do a salad and we all nix that idea as the greens will undoubtedly wilt in the heat. Josh brings up green beans and I think it’s PERFECT. The color and texture will be a nice contrast with the sweet mash.
I start assigning roles by strengths. Felix says she knows how to make a great steak rub, so I have her tackle that. I have Becky prepping our second side, green beans. I will move her to the grill once she finishes prepping the beans. She did an amazing job in the military challenge manning the grill, and I know she can lean on that experience to put out some perfect Rib-Eyes. Felix can cook the green beans once Becky is done prepping them. Josh and I tackle the heftiest of tasks: peeling, boiling and mashing 101 servings of sweet potatoes.
Things start to fall apart immediately. Felix has rubbed down about 20 New York Strips, not Rib Eyes. For some reason Becky isn’t prepping beans. She has them in front of her, but instead of chopping them she is discussing sauces to go with the Rib-Eye. The team thinks we need a sauce with our steaks, and though at first I resist, (Rib-Eyes are such a flavorful cut, since they are marbled throughout) I decide to go with what the team wants. Becky leaves the green beans that she has barely touched to make a Whiskey-Butter sauce.
Felix has finished rubbing down 105 Rib-Eyes and I ask Becky to pre-sear them. I look at the green beans she was supposed to prep, and there are about 10 servings worth. I put Felix on green beans duty and head over to our stove to see if our first batch of potatoes has finished cooking. The top of the water is smooth as glass and I realize the fire is out. I call our culinary producers over to relight the stoves.
Gordon then asks if I’ve salted the water I am boiling potatoes and beans in, and I realize I’ve completely missed that step. As I’m adding salt to the water I notice there are green beans and potatoes in the same pot. I ask Josh how that happened, and he admits to just throwing potatoes into the pot without looking first. Joe Bastianich comes up to me as I’m trying to separate green beans from potatoes, to tell me Becky has overcooked about 25 steaks.
“Becky you were just supposed to sear them!” I exclaim. She shrugs her shoulders and I yell, “Josh, you’re on the grill!” Josh did an amazing job in our military challenge on the grill, and I know he won’t overcook our steaks. We have exactly 105 steaks and have to feed 101 cowboys. With 25 steaks already overcooked we face an uphill battle for votes.
We are just minutes away from having to serve the cowboys and I ask Becky to start setting up our serving table. Felix has finished a batch of green beans and is now peeling and chopping potatoes while I season the first batch of mashed. As soon as I finish the first hotel pan of potatoes, I start in on a second. I look over at our green beans and realize we don’t have enough for 101 portions. I ask Felix to prep more beans on the double. We are minutes away from the start of service and are literally surrounded by hungry cowboys. I finish the second batch of potatoes just as the dinner bell rings. I take over the green beans and ask Felix to join Becky to help keep the line moving.
While I am prepping the second batch of green beans, Gordon announces that we have run out of sweet potatoes. HOW ON EARTH? I prepped two huge pans, even though the team originally thought one pan would be enough. I stop prepping green beans and immediately start peeling and chopping more potatoes. Joe comes up to me and tells me that the cowboys are complaining about raw steaks. I ask Josh and Becky if they are taking the steak’s temps. They both say no “You didn’t tell us to.” It takes everything I have to remain calm. Josh and Becky are both very talented chefs, they know they need to temp steaks.
My team LOSES the cowboy challenge by a landslide. We now face an insane Pressure Test and Gordon has yet another wildcard up his sleeve. We are allowed to save one person and while everyone votes for themselves, I vote for Felix. As Team Captain, I am taking responsibility for our loss by not nominating myself. I choose to save Felix, because we ALL made mistakes, but Felix’s were the easiest to recover from. Becky overcooked steaks and didn’t prep enough green beans. Josh undercooked steaks and mixed a batch of potatoes with green beans. I ran out of potatoes and didn’t season properly.
The three of us face one of the toughest pressure tests in MasterChef history, as we have to prepare 6 eggs, 4 different ways in 20 minutes: one poached, one soft boiled, one fried and a three egg omelet.
In the end an undercooked soft boiled egg is Josh’s ticket back home. I start to sob as soon as he walks out. I truly related to Josh and his story. His mom is a single mom and even though times were tough she did an amazing job of raising a true gentleman. He has a beautiful character, an easy smile and a contagious laugh. He TRULY is one of the most talented chefs in the competition. It breaks me with guilt to watch him leave the MasterChef kitchen. I should be overjoyed at having made it into the MasterChef Top 7, but instead all I can think about is how tough this game is getting. I’m starting to wonder if I‘m cut throat enough to make it to the end. I honestly don’t think I have it in me.