‘MasterChef US’ Season 7 recap: Top three comes as no surprise; culinary battle boils down to a DJ, a teacher and a professional poker player [VIDEOS]

Two Vegas boys are pitted against a Kentucky gal
By @iamkarlatecson on
Gordon Ramsay
Chef and television personality Gordon Ramsay arrives at the 2014 Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party in West Hollywood, California March 2, 2014. Reuters/Gus Ruelas

After another two-hour feature, “MasterChef US” Season 7 revealed its top three contestants vying for the coveted title, as well as a whopping US$250,000 (AU$327,000).

In what could be the most predictable season yet, this year’s front-runners Brandi Mudd, Shaun O’Neale and David Williams cooked their way to the finale. Perhaps to compensate for the lack of surprise, judges Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi announced that unlike previous seasons, three contenders will battle it out for the “MasterChef US” 2016 grand finals.

School teacher Brandi, 27, easily earned a spot on next week’s big event, along with Shaun, a 33-year-old DJ. The two won in the competition’s last team challenge, wherein they had to serve an entrée for 17 of the country’s biggest food critics. It was certainly intimidating, and guest chef Richard Blais’ presence didn’t help to ease the tension either.

For winning in the previous challenge, Brandi chose Shaun as her partner, which was practically a revelation of who’ll end up in the finals. Even the contestants agree that Shaun is their biggest competitor [watch video].

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Brandi, on the other hand, appeared to be a consistent favourite among the judges. It was no surprise, then, that their dish – a hazelnut crusted halibut with Meyer lemon Buerre blanc and asparagus salad – was chosen by the critics as the best dish.

The pair took a big risk with their choice of protein, deciding to stand their ground despite Gordon’s reservations [watch video]. Perhaps they overheard Christina, who reckoned that halibut – if cooked beautifully – would be a sure hit among the critics. While the critics were impressed with Brandi and Shaun’s dish, it still had its flaws. Some observed that the fish was overcooked, while another slammed the team's "play of purple," which mainly consists of purple puree dots on the plate.

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However, Tanorria and David committed the most crucial mistake with their duck breast with ras el hanout, brussels sprout slaw and polenta cake. The two got mixed reviews, but their ultimate downfall was serving undercooked duck breast. As a result, Tanorria and David faced off in the pressure test, wherein they had to cook pork three ways. In just under 75 minutes, each home cook was asked to recreate pork tenderloin with a harissa spice, braised pork belly and a double pork chop sitting on a bed of bok choy.

While Tanorria was able to replicate the three dishes to a tee in terms of presentation, it was David managed to serve perfectly cooked pork. He managed to win over the votes of Christina and Gordon, while Tanorria only got Richard’s vote. In the end, the 36-year-old professional poker player snagged the last spot in the “MasterChef US” Season 7 finale, joining his fellow Las Vegas contender Shaun, as well as Kentucky-native Brandi.

Prior to Tanorria’s elimination, Dan Paustian was also booted off the competition in a heavily dramatic episode that showcased David’s temper tantrums and an emotional visit from the contestants’ loved ones [watch video].

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In the “MasterChef US” Season 7 episode preview, it seemed that David copied Tanorria’s planned dish. However, it turned out to be Dan, and the judges didn’t mince words when they blasted him for not being imaginative enough. In addition to his lack of originality, his dish was overcooked and bland, costing him a spot in the competition.

Find out what happens next on “MasterChef US,” and stay tuned for episode spoilers. The two-part finale of “MasterChef US” Season 7 airs on Wednesdays, 8/7c on Fox.