So Hot Right Now

The MasterChef Dish Amanda Hesser Says "Completely Lacks Soul"

September  8, 2016

“These critics are stone-cold killers.”

That was how MasterChef contestant Brandi described the guest judges—including our co-founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (!!)—on last night's episode.

Working in teams, the four remaining contestants (Brandi, Shaun, David, and Tanorria), speed-prepared restaurant-quality entrées for "seventeen of America’s most powerful food critics," people who even the hosts Richard Blais and Christina Tosi would be terrified to cook for.

While the home cooks frantically chopped and braised, the critics stomped into the arena-style kitchen and squinted menacingly from a terrace above. Not their natural resting faces, sure, but intimidating nonetheless. "I can just feel their death stares glaring at me, watching every single move I make and waiting for me to make a mistake," said Brandi.

Shop the Story

Along with critics like New York Magazine's Adam Platt and Vogue's Jeffrey Steingarten, Amanda tasted both teams' dishes—hazelnut-crusted halibut and duck breast with ras el hanout—and wrote a brief evaluation. There was little consensus among the judges—some loved the duck, some thought it was undercooked; some thought the halibut was perfectly seasoned, others thought the ratios were off—which just goes to show that we should all take restaurant reviews (and recipe comments) with a grain of salt.

As for Amanda's take, she said she'd "seen a dish like this many times" and that it "completely lacks soul.”

Are these the words of a stone-cold killer? And what dish is Amanda referring to? Watch the full episode on or Hulu to find out.

Recipes inspired by the episode:

Who are you rooting for in the MasterChef finale? Tell us in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Donna Hayes
    Donna Hayes
  • jocelyn.thagard
  • kellikakes
  • 702551
  • Sarah Jampel
    Sarah Jampel
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Donna H. September 8, 2016
Don't like either of the guys, one has angst beyond what's healthy and the other is completely obnoxious - at this point don't care who wins. Bring on the next Great British Baking Show. Much more civilized!
jocelyn.thagard September 8, 2016
David - Should have gotten kicked off the show. He better not win. He has anger issues and bad attitude. Why in the world did Chef Ramsey run after him??
702551 September 8, 2016
kellikakes September 8, 2016
That is David not Dan
Sarah J. September 8, 2016
Oh no, thanks for pointing that out! I will fix it immediately.