Tis the season for State Fairs!
It couldn’t have been a more apt time to air MasterChef Season 13 Episode 5, as we’re heavy into state fair season nationwide.
And the regional battle continued with each group bringing their A-game and their F-game because oof!
So, which region lost one of its compadres? Let’s get into it!
Fair-tastic Food and Fun
With the top 20 contestants coming together for their first challenge, the competition finally got off to a start.
It’s game time, people. This is what we tune in for and where we separate the culinary champions from the weak!
Some frontrunners came to mind after strong auditions, but if the Masterchef kitchen doesn’t do anything else, it humbles people quickly.
As far as first tasks go, this was a fun one. All Ramsay and the judges wanted the contestants to do was take dishes inspired by state fair food and elevate them. It sounds simple enough, but if you overthink it, there is ample room for disaster.
Twists and Shocks
Nevertheless, before this new competition kicked off, Gordon dropped a few bombshells on the contestants about how Masterchef Season 13 would go.
After all, it wouldn’t have made sense to continuously emphasize the regional competition if they didn’t make everyone from the same area work together.
This group thinks the regional team situation could be very fun. They have a nice, diverse, fascinating group of people.
No two contestants are alike, even the ones from the same area. While many of them will be bonded under the umbrella of their region, we also get to highlight the individual flavor and talent they contribute to their respective team while representing their specific area.
Even under the same region, no two states are alike, right?
It’s a great twist for highlighting the layers of diversity in this nation while still fostering a team feel.
Also, we know that regional tribalism will outweigh individualism since they all benefit if someone from their team wins.
If one person wins immunity after a challenge, their whole region is safe. If that doesn’t light a fire under everyone’s behind, what will?!
Don’t Hate, Elevate
This show throws around the word “elevate” a lot, and it’s evident that so many people don’t fully understand what that means sometimes.
Because some people nailed this challenge, others lucked up with it, and others missed it brutally.
When you’re trying to “elevate” state fair food, it means the food should probably be within the realm of something that’s inspired by or even served at state fairs, but you have to create it in such a way that it can be served at a high-profile restaurant for more than a couple of bucks.
Some people leaned too heavily into the state fair part that they forgot to elevate it and make it restaurant-quality.
Others got too hyperfocused on elevating that they completely lost sight of the state food component.
And more than a few people were just flat-out lost.
We didn’t get to spend much time with some contestants, but Sav’s barbecue chicken sandwich dish sounded great, like she knew how to marry the two well.
I wish we had seen it. Sadly, it wasn’t the best nor worse dish, so she was in the middle of the pack with others like Lizzie, MD, and others.
State Fair Kings and Queens
On the surface, the Midwest and South would be the regions with this challenge in the bag.
And they certainly put forth some strong dishes.
Midwest King, Kyle, took home the win, but Northeasterner, Nina, in addition to giving off some killer Cyndi Lauper vibes, put up a solid fight with her fish sandwich.
Nina had a fried fish and chips spin with a fried cod fish sandwich with bourbon hot sauce, garlic lemon aioli, homemade potato chips, and a tahini slaw.
It was the very definition of state fair food (fried meat and salty snacks) that meets elevation with her flavor profile and execution.
Gordon couldn’t stop raving about how crisp the fish was and how fantastic that garlic aioli dressing was, and Joe, yes, that Joe, said he’d happily pay $24 for it.
Personally, I’m more of a haddock girl, but damn, if I don’t appreciate a great fish sandwich, and Nina’s looked divine.
Reagan brought some fried chicken greatness to the table, representing the South; honestly, you can tell she’s one of Aarón’s favorites.
Every time he looks at her, he’s practically beaming and happy to have her repping New Orleans so well.
She even mentioned that she chose the Fried Chicken Festival to represent because it’s Black-Owned, and solidarity is where it’s at!
Her Paneed Chicken Breast with lemon butter crab sauce over garlic mashed potatoes and a deconstructed hot sauce (which looked like a salsa) were promising.
Gordon threw out words like “juicy” and “succulent” to describe her chicken, so thank the heavens it wasn’t dried out, as easily done with chicken breast.
They said the fry on it was perfect, and the harmony of the dish was great. But Joe also mentioned that it was a bit too homestyle for him, and as much as I love Reagan and could put some respect on her dish, I could understand Joe’s opinion.
James, our West Coaster, absolutely slayed his mushroom burger. Apparently, because of his job, James is a bit of a mushroom king, and it showed with his combination of mushrooms with mushroom powder to create a mouthwatering burger that had Gordon excited.
We know how much Gordon loves burgers. The cook on that burger truly was perfection. As they said, it was like something out of a magazine.
But the person who walked away with the immunity chip was Midwesterner Kyle, and it’s shocking how well he pulled off that lobster fries dish when he hadn’t previously fried lobster.
Kyle is funny. He was put off by the other regions being loud, hyping each other up, and communicating.
But he could stay focused on his dish and put up with Joe blatantly expressing his doubts about this dish.
Joe wasn’t holding back one bit, but Kyle didn’t let him deter him from anything, and he even stood by his strong statements about Minnesota being premiere food and the best of the best with state fairs.
Kyle showcased his grasp on flavor harmony when he paired his beer-battered fennel slaw with lemon tarragon and beer vinegarette. It truly was a great combination of what state fair food should represent and an ability to make it “high-class.”
Joe, the biggest doubter, even expressed that it was the closest to a restaurant-prepared dish in the whole competition.
Thanks to Kyle, the Midwest has immunity. And if anyone should be thanking their lucky stars for that, it’s Wayne.
On that note…
Bad and Bougie
Two stand-out individuals who got humbled by this challenge were Amanda and Wayne.
Wayne is so ambitious, and you can tell he gets caught up in this impression of a high-class culinary experience that he shoots himself in the foot.
He couldn’t keep it simple, opting for a pumpkin risotto because risottos are a Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef staple.
Hell, maybe Wayne should’ve followed Gordon Ramsay’s own lobster risotto recipe. Because that pumpkin one wasn’t doing it. Why are we presenting terrible risotto to Gordon freaking Ramsay, people?!
But it takes a bit to execute a risotto masterfully, and it’s nothing something you just play around with in some last-ditch effort to impress the judges.
Even Wayne lacked confidence in his dish and knew he didn’t get the texture of the risotto right. You could tell his lack of confidence leaked into everything he did because the dish didn’t even look appealing, and he’s usually better at plating.
Ironically, Wayne’s Southern equivalent Kendal also landed at the bottom for his dish.
Kendal’s biggest issue was having too much stuff going on at once. A kebab on its own would’ve been fine, maybe even the potato croquettes, but he had those two and bacon-wrapped asparagus, and none of the stuff matched.
His proportions were way off or everything; his plating was abysmal and looked clunky.
Joe said his meal “lacked opinion,” ad you could genuinely tell that Kendal lost the plot of what he intended to do about midway into preparing everything and spent more time trying to get everything on the plate in time that he stopped thinking about anything else.
Also, Kendal, THE SOUTHERNER, made the cardinal sin of not using enough seasoning. Blasphemy!
Richie is a sweet kid, but my fellow Northeasterner had me scratching my head with his plate.
In theory, a deconstructed cheesecake sounds great.
Everyone knows you can find a decent fried cheesecake at a state fair or festival, and depending on your location, you can find anything from cheesecake bites and balls to little mini versions of the dish in all different types of flavors, or hell, even a cheesecake milkshake.
His concept of sweet and salty using bacon was even promising.
But his execution was 1000% off. With Richie, you can tell that he got caught up in what it means to “elevate” a dish, tried too hard to make it fancy and restaurant-worthy, and couldn’t properly grasp what any of that meant.
The result was a pretentious-looking plate of what Joe aptly described as ice cream toppings.
Aarón was right in that the dish would’ve worked infinitely better and maybe even kept him out of the bottom if he had made a nice pound cake and placed it in the center or pulled off more of a poke cheesecake instead of assuming that “deconstructing” it made it classier.
There was no substance to his dish, just pretty little bits and pieces scattered across a plate, and not something one would want to pay for, which was unfortunate since what he did have on there tasted good.
But despite that poor execution, Richie at least tried, which is more than one could say about Amanda.
One knew things wouldn’t go well for Amanda when she seemingly turned her nose up at state fair food for being too unhealthy.
From that point forward, it was like she didn’t even try, chalking things up to this assignment not being for her, and she had a hard time blending her Californian conscientious eating vibe with state fair food vibes.
Amanda could’ve pulled off a great kebab with a nice protein, some veggies and/or fruits, and a side salad and turned it into something spectacular.
Frankly, she seemed out of touch. She played it far too safe with baked fish tacos. As Gordon said, they’re in California; he can walk half a block down and find at least three superior tacos.
Seriously, they need to ban tacos altogether if no one delivers. Save Aarón and us from this hell of gringos disrespecting the art of taco making, please!
Amanda attempted to make her own tortillas, which didn’t go over well, and then just threw everything on the plate, like she gave up before she even started.
The closest it came to restaurant quality was something you’d find on a kid’s menu at a low-rate food chain.
It was disappointing, to say the least: no color, no pizazz, no personality or life, nothing.
And who bakes cod to put in a fish taco? Goodness!
Joe said he’d only express that he liked him if he was at her home, and she said she made tacos for the first time because it would be polite, and Gordon said the dish looked sad, which it did.
Not even Zoloft could bring those depressing fish tacos to life. I’ve seen fish stick taco recipes with more personalitty.
And with that, the Real Houswife of Masterchef got the boot.
It sucks that Amanda’s time to shine away from her kids was cut short, but it was the right call.
She showed she wasn’t versatile or adaptable, so this wasn’t the proper competition for her.
Over to you, Masterchef Fanatics? Do you agree with who got the boot? What was your favorite state fair dish? Hit those comments.
And for more food-related thoughts, recipes, and updates, don’t forget to check out our sister site Food Fanatic!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You’ll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on Twitter.