'MasterChef' Poll: Which Challenge Is the Hardest?

'MasterChef' Poll: Which Challenge Is the Hardest?

There are a bunch of different challenges on MasterChef, including the pressure test, the elimination challenge, the mystery box challenge and the team challenges. And let's face it, they are all pretty difficult, but which one is the hardest? Each contestant will probably have a different answer, which is why I've ranked them from one to five, with one being what I would think would be the hardest in the MasterChef kitchen.

5. Mystery Box Challenge

These challenges are the luck of the draw. In the first week of season 8, the box contained staple items that one would find on a shopping list, such as chicken, ground beef, eggs, etc. While one might argue this was an easy challenge, I actually thought it was a little difficult as the judges were looking for simple, but elevated dishes, which is why Mark ended up going with his simple pancake dish.

In the latest episode, the boxes contained shellfish. I could tell the judges were looking for very fancy, expensive dishes with the items inside the box, such as spot prawns and Pacific sea urchin. Most of the contestants delivered during this round.

I believe the key with the mystery box challenge is to get creative with whatever is inside. From the simple items to the more complex, the judges really want to see how far the chefs can take the dishes.

4. Gordon Ramsay Classes

Every once in a while, Gordon, Christina or Aaron will prepare a dish for the contestants. They then get a chance to taste the dishes, ask questions and then prepare it the same way. Sometimes, though, the judges will ask the chefs to prepare their own take on the dish, which I'm sure can get tricky, but it's really creativity that the judges are looking for on these challenges.

With the guidance of the judges during the preparation, if the chefs really pay attention and take mental notes of how much of each ingredient goes in and what it tastes like, this challenge could be somewhat easy. And by easy, I mean, not as stress-inducing as another challenge. But then again, trying to nail a professional dish that's served in restaurants and is expected to taste a certain way can be nerve-wrecking.

3. Pressure Tests

The pressure tests are usually shorter challenges in which the contestants have about 10-15 minutes to make a lot of the same item, such as icing the perfect cupcake, or hard-boiled eggs. Sometimes they might require a chef to cut a piece of meat a certain way a bunch of times. Or one of my favorites was when they had to carve the perfect chicken, where each piece needed to be laid out the perfect way, including wings, thighs and breasts.

These can be nerve-wrecking because as I said, the contestants only have a short amount of time to finish the task. I like the challenges where they have to make the most of something, such as whoever has the most perfect pancakes wins. I like how they line up all of the food and the judges go down the line picking which ones are perfect and rejecting the not-so-perfect ones. Usually the winner gets an advantage in the next round, so it's important to really try to come out ahead in these challenges.

2. Elimination Challenges

It's do or die in the elimination challenges. Sometimes the judges combine an elimination challenge with a chef class. In the latest episode, the elimination round was two parts, the first a Gordon class, the second a redemption of the first round. I kind of like how the judges changed it up during season 8 to narrow down the bottom chefs in the elimination challenge and then gave them a change to take the construction criticism and redeem themselves. Usually about half of the chefs nail it and move on, while one obviously goes home.

There's a lot on the line in these tests, as someone always goes home. Sometimes, more than one contestant will go home. It's important for the chefs to really overcome their shortcomings and shine in these challenges. Or they can just skirt by to get the judges to skip their dish because it's mediocre and not terrible enough to be singled out.

1. Team Challenges

If I were on MasterChef, I would find the team challenges the hardest. Throwing me into a kitchen to whip up dishes that I may or may not have cooked is one thing. To work together with other chefs to prepare a dish for a group that isn't the judges is just terrifying. It's one thing for the judges to say they don't like a dish, but to have a group of people critique a dish, man, that has to be the ultimate fear for me.

And if you don't work well with others, working in a team setting can't be good. There always has to be a leader, but oftentimes on MasterChef that leader butts heads with either another chef or with Gordon. Other times, there's just plain chaos in the kitchen. The plates aren't coming out fast enough, the meat isn't cooked well enough, something is over-seasoned or a plate is missing a side. And in the worst-case scenario, the dish just isn't well-liked.

MasterChef airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Tags: Masterchef

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