MasterChef United Tastes of America: A Hell’s Kitchen Takeover and Pasta Shocker Delivers The Final Three!


We have our final three!

After a few challenging competitions between MasterChef Season 13 Episode 17 and Masterchef Season 13 Episode 18, the herd has thinned out, and we’ve got our top three who will compete to take the prize home.

Did you anticipate Kennedy, Grant, and Jennifer for the finale?

From a Hell’s Kitchen crossover that was, well, from hell to challenging pasta dishes and attempting to follow the master that is Gordon Ramsay, it was a jam-packed double feature of Masterchef.

And it’s time to unpack the highlights of it.

Welcome to Hell’s Kitchen!

Seeing the remaining contestants dolled up and prancing into Hell’s Kitchen for the first time was nice.

In all these years of the series, it’s actually a surprise that they haven’t incorporated this into a challenge multiple times before.

Suppose anything could put these home cooks to the test. In that case, it’s the frantic, chaotic, and intimidating kitchen life that would have them serving up multiple high-quality dishes in a timely fashion or else deal with Ramsay’s wrath.

Unfortunately, this portion of the challenge showcased how not everyone is cut out to be in a high-energy kitchen.

Hell’s Kitchen is intimidating to even the most confident of chefs, and you could tell everyone was nervous about being there.

Plus, it’s beyond stressful to think that teams of three people had to run an entire side of the kitchen by themselves and produce meals for everyone.

And, of course, they had no control over what they were making either since they had things like Lobster risotto and filets to contend with rather than whatever they had in mind.

The judges chose the teams and the captains, and it made sense that they had Wayne running one side and Grant on the other.

Initially, the idea of Wayne running anything was a bit irksome because he’s so nitpicky and tends to micromanage a great deal. But in the environment, it seemed to work to their advantage.

You could also tell the judges wanted to focus on giving each captain one of the strongest chefs and a middling one.

Wayne had Kennedy and Reagan to manage, and while Kennedy had her issues at first with Wayne, she did fine, while Reagan tended to struggle with the cook on the filet steaks.

She also had that awkward run-in with Gordon Ramsay when she thought she’d just serve up some of the previous risotto she made to keep ahead with the orders, but he wanted it fresh.

Reagan’s thought process makes sense for a home cook and even someone who runs a small business. When you’re trying to think economically and not waste food, it tracks.

But you can’t pull moves like that in a higher-end kitchen, so she got a hell of a reality check when Gordon became Chef Ramsay of Hell’s Kitchen with her rather than the more laidback mentor and judge of this series.

Wayne knew how to get her together when she needed it, and he was surprisingly good at managing Kennedy and keeping the pace up during most of the shift.

It gave them a better edge than Grant’s unfortunate attempts at running the Red Kitchen.

Sav was completely and utterly lost. She checked out roughly five minutes into service and couldn’t seem to bounce back from that point forward.

Sav was so far out of her depth that she was spiraling, and she couldn’t get ahold of herself no matter what she did.

It’s a reason she didn’t try out for Hell’s Kitchen, and you could see that.

Every task she got showcased a flaw of hers and served as a reminder that she’s not familiar with some of the more technical pieces and has the technical skillset for an established kitchen, and this is beyond what she’s comfortable doing.

She was destroying the pan-seared scallops at every turn, she couldn’t get temps on pans or any of the food right, and she had to get talked through tasks by Grant, Jennifer, and both chefs.

And the more she got flustered, the worse her performance became. It was brutal to witness.

But it’s another one of those moments that reminds you how little we’ve seen of Sav this entire competition. We never got to know if she was cut out for this or if she was having a rough day.

We barely got to know her since her debut in Masterchef Season 13 Episode 4.

She’s been this background fixture for so long that there was not much investment in seeing her demise, and as tough as things were for her, it was hard to feel anything when she eventually but rightfully got the boot after that competition.

It was also obvious that if we had more than one elimination ahead of the finals, she’d be one of them because she hasn’t been anywhere outside the middle of the pack all season.

The biggest shock was that after running the kitchen so well during the Hell’s Kitchen Challenge and occasionally being one of the front runners, dark horses, and seemingly a favorite all season, Wayne crashed, burned, and got booted during the second challenge.

Not only was Wayne getting the boot so early and not making it to the top three shocks, but getting axed before Reagan was also a huge shocker.

The pasta challenge was fun, mainly when they each got different forms of it.

Grant’s squid ink crab and clam stuffed pasta was an inspired choice you could envision as a dish at a decent restaurant, if not on the pretentious side, but it is squid ink.

Reagan’s spinach-fused ravioli with Swiss chard and ricotta got rave reviews from the judges, and Joe appreciated the Italian-mom homey element of it. Still, it also felt incredibly simple and understated.

Jennifer’s beet tortellini pasta with veal and wine reduction looked beautiful, with great plating, and Gordon’s only criticism was that he didn’t like the raw garlic in it.

Kennedy mostly had a miss with her crab and scallop tortellini with uni cream sauce and caviar because it was too salty, and the flavors of the uni and caviar overpowered the pasta.

But Wayne utterly flubbed with his Lobster-stuffed saffron ravioli with butter sauce that he didn’t manage to pull off.

They went as far as describing it as half a dish. And they said they needed more seasoning and a more cohesive dish.

Wayne’s constant criticism is that he’s overambitious at times but can’t execute, and that was the case with his pasta dish and, subsequently, his downfall.

But it was still shocking to see him leave this soon when it felt as if he was set up to at least make it to the top three.

Follow the Leader

The final challenge was fun because it’s always a blast when Gordon puts on the apron and gets his hands dirty cooking with the contestants.

They had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to follow Ramsay’s demonstrations to a “T” and replicate his dish as best as possible.

The Coffee-crusted smoked venison seemed very involved and technical because of its many components.

The only one who looked like they didn’t have an issue keeping up was Grant.

Grant has emerged as one of the front-runners out of the middle of the pack midway through Masterchef Season 13, and at this point, there’s a plausible chance he could take it all home or at least be the runner-up.

While our money is still on Kennedy taking it home, Grant could easily pull this out in the end, which is something that didn’t seem like a possibility back when he was messing up potatoes and other such things.

Gordon going at lightning speed, walking them through a dish seemed more difficult than one would’ve imagined.

And by the end, only Grant and Kennedy impressed the most with their replication and execution of the dishes.

Jennifer’s was almost as bad as Reagan’s, but apparently, the only thing that spared her was the cook on the venison being better.

It feels like we hurtled into the final three with everything up in the air, and minor infractions took some people out while their inconsistent history took out others.

And now we have Jennifer, Kennedy, and Grant duking it out for the high honor, but will the West, South, or Midwest take the crown?

You’ll have to tune in for the finale.

And stay tuned for more Masterchef and Gordon Ramsay Universe-related content soon.

For more food-related content, follow 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.

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