It's Week 4, and it's clear the MasterChef judges are starting to crank up the heat on the home chefs. Out of the country on business, Chef Graham Elliot emailed us from abroad to give us the scoop on last night's match-ups, breakdowns and impromptu trip to Sin City.
SheKnows: How cool of you guys to have the home chefs serving up steaks and sides to 101 off-duty firefighters in this week’s challenge. Was it fun meeting all of those American heroes?
Graham Elliot: It was extremely humbling to meet the men and women that put so much on the line day in and day out. It inspired me to do more each day!
SK: I bet you saw some pretty impressive mustaches...
GE: Pretty impressive, but the police department still tops 'em all.
SK: Facial hair aside, Bime opted not to take Gordon’s advice about putting a rub on the steaks — how much do you think that affected the outcome?
GE: It definitely would have improved the dish, but the cauliflower mash, sauce, etc. were completely out of place for an outdoor summer brunch.
SK: Because it’s the season for cook-outs, what kind of rub do you suggest for making the perfect summer steak?
GE: Dried chiles, salt, sugar... maybe coffee if you're feeling loco.
SK: Well, Bethy’s team took a whopping 68 votes. If you had to put your finger on the most successful part of her team’s plate, what would it be?
GE: The sauce, for sure. Bethy possesses amazing leadership skills, and James cooks from the heart — a great combo.
SK: Beth’s hysterical breakdown caught me totally off guard! As someone who knows how tough it can be in the public eye, do you think she’ll be able to handle the inevitable negativity?
GE: Beth puts so much love in her food that I think it's hard for her to not take things personally. She is extremely talented.
SK: She really set Natasha off by calling the cauliflower puree “disgusting.” Well... was it?
GE: It just didn't make sense to serve it from the get-go — too rich, heavy, wintry. I don't think Natasha is one you wanna mess with... just sayin'.
SK: During the pressure test, the home chefs were tasked with making Eggs Benedict. What is so tricky about this dish?
GE: It's one of those that seems simple but only works if every component is done perfectly.
SK: What does it mean to “break” the sauce, like Krissi, Beth and Natasha did?
GE: It means that either the eggs were cooked over too high of heat and "scrambled" them, or the butter is added too quickly to the egg yolk so the two ingredients don't emulsify.
SK: Who were you more surprised managed to pull off the Eggs Benedict: Bri, who’d never made it before, or Krissi, who broke her sauce and had to make a new bowl?
GE: Krissi... she always surprises me by how tough and resilient she is in the kitchen.
SK: I almost had a heart attack when y’all said the bottom four — Natasha, Luca, Kathy and Beth — all had to leave! And I’m sure they almost had a heart attack when they realized they’d be cooking at Gordon’s Las Vegas restaurant, BURGR. What made you guys come up with that idea?
GE: We literally didn't know what to do, so Gordon said, "Vegas, baby!"
SK: Which is worse: a burger that borders on too simple, like Luca and Kathy’s, or a burger that borders on too busy, like Natasha and Beth’s?
GE: Too busy. Like I've said — if you're gonna go simple, it had better be effing awesome! It's easier to hide behind a lot of stuff thrown on a bun.
SK: What were your initial thoughts when Luca and Kathy had to face off making butter-poached lobster to see who’d stay?
GE: It was hard because they're both such great people and talented cooks. I try to never go in with an idea of who I think could or should win.
SK: Luca edged Kathy out, but you all seemed truly sad to see her go — you even took your glasses off. Do you think she’ll take Gordon up on his offer to train in his NYC kitchen?
GE: I hope she does. She's very passionate, and I think it would be great for her to take Gordon up on his offer.
SK: Next week’s preview was pretty tantalizing! Any hints about what might be in the mystery box Joe says might be the most difficult ever?
GE: All I can say is "heads up." :)
Check back weekly!
Get behind-the-scenes deets on each episode by following our weekly Q&A sessions with Chef Graham every Thursday. Have something you're dying to ask the chef? Share via comment and your question might be featured!
More on MasterChef
Image courtesy of Matt Hoyle/Fox