'MasterChef' ousts Mike Kim and Sharone Hakman, reveals Final 4
By Reality TV World staff, 09/09/2010
MasterChef eliminated Mike Kim and Sharone Hakman and determined its final four finalists during Wednesday night's two-hour broadcast on Fox.
MasterChef judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot eliminated Mike, a 34-year-old server from Redondo Beach, CA, from the competition after the six remaining home cooks participated in an "invention test" in which they each had to prepare a dessert which featured vanilla as its featured ingredient.
As the winner of the proceeding "mystery box" challenge in which the finalists had each prepared a venison dish, Sheetal Bhagat, a 37-year-old teacher from Chicago, IL, had won the right to select vanilla as the test's featured ingredient (honey and berries were her other options).
In addition, Sheetal also received twice the amount of time -- five minutes versus two and a half minutes -- to gather her dessert ingredients from the MasterChef pantry.
Mike had prepared a poached pear trifle with vanilla scented brandy but had "folded" raw egg whites into the dessert dish -- a decision the judges deemed inexcusable.
"You can not serve raw eggs whites on top of a badly made trifle," Gordon told Mike. "You've come a long way in a short period of time, but you have got to slow down. And when you do, you surprise yourself about the results. Please take your apron off."
"I really wanted this," Mike said afterwards. "This is not the end. Being on MasterChef has just fueled this burning desire I have about food and cookery and I'm going to take this whole experience... and become better."
Sharone, a 28-year-old financial advisor from Los Angeles, CA who had emerged as one of the competition's frontrunners, was eliminated from MasterChef after the five remaining contestants participated in a field challenge in which they went on a fishing trip and then had to prepare the sculpin fish they caught in the kitchen of a Los Angeles-area hotel.
As the winner of the proceeding "invention test," Whitney Miller, a 22-year-old student from Poplarville, MS, had received an extra 15 minutes -- 75 minutes versus 60 minutes -- to prepare her fish dish.
The dishes were judged by food critics Barbara Fairchild, Tanya Steel and Jeffrey Steingarten, who gave each dish between one and four stars and determined Sharone and Whitney had prepared the worst dishes.
Sharone (4 out of 12 stars) had prepared spring asparagus citrus salad with grilled sculpin and seared sculpin liver while Whitney (5 out of 12 stars) had prepared pan seared sculpin with Italian style roasted vegetables.
David Miller, a 29-year-old software engineer from Newton Centre, MA, topped the critics' scoring with 11.5 out of 12 stars while Lee Knaz, a 27-year-old bartender from Venice, CA, and Sheetal had followed in second and third place respectively.
As the challenge's bottom two cooks, Sharone and Whitney then faced off in a "pressure test" in which they were given 90 minutes to make a souffle.
While Whitney, an experienced home baker, used her time to carefully make a single batch of chocolate souffles with orange zest, Sharone used his 90 minutes to bake an initial test souffle that he then tweaked the recipe of -- resulting in him barely completing his second batch of chocolate souffles with sea salt before time expired.
"Your souffle was absolutely perfect," Graham told Whitney.
"Perfect!" Gordon agreed.
"Sharone, yours was delicious. But sadly, slightly undercooked, slightly cold in the center, and something that needed two to three minutes more to perfect." Gordon said. "You have got to keep your head up high. There's something exciting about the danger you take with food, it's refreshing. You're quirky, you're confident, you're a great risk taker and you're going to go far with food."
"Sharone, I know you used to stop by [my] Mozza [restaurant] when your wife was pregnant, but if you ever wanted to stop by and have a job there, we'd be proud and happy to have you," Joe added.
Despite his elimination, Sharone continued to believe he was the competition's best cook and blamed his exit on Whitney's more extensive baking experience.
"It just doesn't feel good going home because deep inside my heart, I feel I had it within me and I could have won his thing," he said. "I was three minutes away from perfection and now I'm out of this competition. I faced a really big challenge today, I knew I had to take down the Pastry Princess."
"This is not the end of the road for me, this is just an affirmation [that] really opened my eyes to this world and made me realize I can do this... [I going to] make sure that I grow and open up one of the best restaurants in L.A. and hopefully compete someday with a restaurant like Gordon Ramsay's. America's going to get a taste of that."
MasterChef will crown its winner during Fox's broadcast of the show's two-hour finale on September 15. In addition to being crowned America's "MasterChef," the winner will receive $250,000 and a cookbook publishing deal.