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MasterChef – How to properly butcher a salmon

World class restaurant in L.A.! Filleting skills of extra-ordinary grandeur! A 'Hell's Kitchen'-style challenge! Who could ask for anything more?

- Season 2, Episode 17 - "The Top 6 Compete, Elimination"

What? You’re asking what I cooked over the weekend?

Not much. I couldn’t get the stove to fire up at the place where I was house-sitting. Nor the electric BBQ out back. There was a microwave, though, and it availed me more food preparation than simply peeling a banana. Yeah … you got it: I unwrapped cellophane from a package of microwave popcorn, unfolded it, tossed it in the thing, and “bleeped” it alive*. Whatcha think? MasterChef material?

Over at Patina in Los Angeles, however, it was an entirely different story. The Walt Disney Concert Hall restaurant hosted a showdown of two teams of MasterChef cooks, who got a humbling lesson ala antics similar to a Hell’s Kitchen episode. With Suzy the red team captain (along with Ben and Christian) and Tracy the blue team captain (with Adrien and Jennifer), and good ‘ole Gordon Ramsay himself at the pass harping out orders, the cooks slaved away creating lily risotto, hamachi, scallops, and beef to exacting standards.

The Result? Monkey business. Tracy (who wants “zero conflict” on her team) never worked in a live kitchen before. Christian believes he’ll be carrying the team on his back. Suzy begins service with her entire team nowhere near the kitchen, instead congregated in the walk-in fridge. Ben is lost. Adrien lets a hair escape on one of his plates. More.

But somehow a service is extracted from the overwhelmed teams with Suzy’s team eking out a win.

On to the pressure test challenge back at MasterChef central. And, oh … what a doozy. The losing team — Tracy, Adrien and Jennifer — get the honor of scaling, filleting, and slicing ten portions of salmon and cooking a single serving of their efforts … and in a mere 45 minutes.

Holy, McMoley! In 45 minutes … ?!? The only one who’s ever filleted a fish properly (let alone at all) is Christian … and he’s safely watching the entire show from the rafters, not in the challenge at all!

The Result this time? Yep … you guessed it: more monkey business. After Gordon demonstrates the proper techniques of prepping a salmon himself for the group, he sets them off and running. And cripes, was it ever difficult to watch without being on the edge of your seat. Tracy hacked up her poor fish so badly it looked like a first-time serial killer went to town on it with a penknife. Adrien took the better part of 30 minutes simply scaling his fish … !!! And then he butchered his portions for good measure. Jennifer was the only one who filleted her salmon with any dignity.

After the massacre, the three rushed to properly cook up a hunk in what little time they had left. None of them did a fantastic job, but Jennifer committed the least damage in the end. And with Adrien squeaking by because of Tracy’s inexperience in filleting, she was let go from the kitchen this time around. She blubbers her thanks for her time in there.

Her only saving grace? Graham’s offer of a year’s worth of lessons at the illustrious Cordon Bleu kitchens at no cost whatsoever to her. She blubbers even more thank yous and somehow manages hugs for the judges.

*whew* Are we done this week? No … we’re not. We get one more episode of culinary adventure from the remaining five. Who’s with me?


  • “This is a whole new level of cooking for us …” — Christian, talking about the Patina kitchen challenge
  • “I feel castrated and relieved.” — Ben, after dinner service at Patina

*Note: For the record, I’m a pretty good cook. The above is not indicative of actual skill and/or knowledge, and has been offered here simply as comic relief for your dining and dancing pleasure.


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Categories: | Episode Reviews | Features | General | MasterChef | TV Shows |

2 Responses to “MasterChef – How to properly butcher a salmon”

August 10, 2011 at 2:24 AM

Great summation Sir, I loved this episode for several reasons. First, I love watching Christian being an ass, like he’s a mini-Gordon poser, but most of all we love to cook salmon and I learned some really cool tricks from Chef R. Can’t wait to see whats next.

August 10, 2011 at 7:49 AM

You can peel a banana? Wow!