It's week 4 of MasterChef, and we are down to 11 contestants, with 2 more to be eliminated tomorrow night. The challenges are only getting tougher -- and more exciting! Take a look at what is in store for the home cooks this week:
Celebrity Chef: This week the contestants are joined by celebrity Chef Cat Cora. Having Cat on the show was really emblematic in illustrating how celebrity chefs have taken the lead in driving the food revolution. By adding a bit of glamour, they've drawn attention to the industry and have inspired us to think about where our food comes from, what we are putting into our bodies, and to be creative with meals in our own homes. With Cat, the contestants were given a chance to cook with one of their idols, and I'm sure it was something none of them will soon forget. She is a great example of someone who pursued their passion successfully, and uses her celebrity to educate others about nutrition. Her charitable organization, Chefs for Humanity, also raises funds to help battle hunger all over the world.
Farm to Table: On Wednesday, the losing team is faced with another pressure test -- this time it is their ability to identify finds from a local farmer's market that keeps them in the game. Some items are more familiar than others, such as heirloom tomatoes, others more obscure, like star fruit (although it really depends on what part of the country you are from). Today we are getting more familiar with the cornucopia that is grown locally in our communities, and becoming acquainted with produce that just a few years ago could only be identified by chefs and farmers. The fact that the contestants got as far as they did tells me that America is really embracing the farm to table movement -- getting away from processed and prepared foods, and taking an interest in what goes into their dishes and meals. The culinary aspirations of home cooks are being fueled by real, tangible ingredients that they can find (maybe not in their own backyard, but pretty close) at the local farmers' markets -- and MasterChef is really about making the most out of a bounty of ingredients and who can integrate them as creatively, quickly, and correctly as possible.
Cooking Competitions: A cooking competition is the very core of MasterChef. It is a serious competition for some serious prize money, not to mention the prestige of title, and a chance at skyrocketing to the top of a profession that was but a mere dream just a few short months ago. Many shows on TV today such as Top Chef, Iron Chef, and Chopped, have turned cooking on television into a spectator sport -- which only fuels the fire to start cooking at home for yourself and your family. Whether they showcase professional against professional, amateur against amateur, or in some cases, amateur against professional, the high-stakes battle of who can outwit whom in the kitchen appeals to our competitive nature and is a natural evolution of our foodie culture. I hope people start having cook offs with their neighbors -- it would surely add something to the average Sunday BBQ.
Tune in tomorrow to see who makes the cut!