Tag Archives: High School

Masterchef 4 Recap: Team Mystery Box and Chocolate (S4E23)

For the second to last time (Ben is back from Burning Man, but is currently trekking across the wild west and has no time to partake in MasterChef), hello, Starr-struck citizens of the internet! I am doing a temporary takeover of his blog in order to write the MasterChef recaps that so many of you are so fond of. He will be back to blog for the finale, so don’t you worry you will have your beloved Starr back soon enough! But for now, you are stuck with this scrub again.

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Michael Chen, and I was part of the top 18 during Season 3 of MasterChef. Please follow me on my FacebookTwitter, as well as my website at www.mc3michael.com! Let’s get the usual legal disclaimer out of the way: (PLEASE NOTE: This blog contains the crazed rants of a former MasterChef survivor who has practically no inside knowledge of how this season was produced.  It’s not fit to be read by anyone.)

After a highly engineered elimination that saw poor James get the axe, this episode proves to be just as engineered and dramatic with the previews showing Krissi and Jessie getting into a huge catfight. It’s easy to see why Krissi’s and Jessie’s personalities clash. In a high school context (which strangely, was only about two years ago for me. feels like forever!!), Jessie is like a varsity cheerleader, gorgeous, popular, always smiling, while Krissi is the girl way down on the social ladder, loud, brassy, a little rough around the edges, not afraid to show her emotions. It’s a clash of personalities that promises a high school cafeteria-esque cat fight.

The episodes start and it’s revealed that while in the last episode, what was normally a “team challenge” was individual, this time what is usually an individual pressure test will become a “team challenge”. An odd choice, and I can’t help but think that they are doing this to build up the catfight that will inevitably unfold. Once again, Joe’s exaggerated acting and writhing face muscles crack me up. Luca gets to pick first, and exclaims that it’s the biggest advantage that he’s ever had. I personally think that winning a mystery box, earning immunity, and getting to assign stuff to your contestants is a much bigger advantage. Luca’s penchant for being extremely exaggerated and somewhat dramatic is probably what enhances his appeal to both the producers and audience, which combined with his cooking skills is what has gotten him so far in this “competition.”

Luca picks Natasha first, which isn’t a surprise to me. He clearly values her cooking abilities over any disagreements they may have had in the past. I honestly think that Natasha is the strongest cook in the whole competition. She and Adrien Nieto, of MasterChef Season 2, recently did a pop up, and looking at some of the instagram photos and descriptions of the dishes, what they put out was absolutely incredible. Way more stunningly sophisticated and creative than anything that I’ve seen out of the other three contestants, and possibly any contestant EVER in the history of MasterChef (aside from “freak genius” Alvin Schultz, also of Season 2). The menu that they put out could easily have been in some of the best restaurants in the country, and the $75 that they asked for it. If you ever have the chance to attend one of their pop-ups, don’t miss out!

That leaves Krissi and Jessie as a team. No surprise there. I can already foresee what is going to happen. They will start struggling as a team, get into a HUGE fight, cause the MULTITUDES of people that hate Krissi to hate her even more intensely, they will lose the challenge, go into the pressure test, where Jessie will beat Krissi, and 95% of the people watching MasterChef will do huge fist pumps and set off fireworks in celebration of the satisfaction of seeing Krissi get eliminated after being such a huge “asshole” this season and particularly in this episode through the fight with darling Jessie. Sound about right? Keep in mind that I am only about 3 minutes into this episode at the time of writing this paragraph. Hahaha.

Continue reading the rest of this post on my website at www.mc3michael.com!

What do y’all think? Are you happy Krissi went home? Which three course meal would YOU have eaten? Which chocolate dessert is YOUR favorite? Let me know down below….

A Homecoming

Some of you know that I’ve just returned from yet another mammoth road trip, this time to the northeast.  I was scheduled to speak at a conference at Vanier College in Montreal, and rather than fly, I decided to take a scenic road trip through autumnal New England, take my time, and enjoy the drive.  With me was my best friend since high school, J-P.  He and I have traveled to all 7 continents together, but it’s been several years since we’ve taken a trip.  So we were excited to hit all the famous spots along the way.

But the first stop was actually in the opposite direction: west.  I had to visit the town where I grew up, Abilene, Texas, to speak at a fundraising event for my old high school.  Federal, state, and local funds keep getting tighter every year, so concerned parents at my old school district started the Wylie Bulldog Education Foundation.  The foundation raises money throughout the year to support student scholarships (so students in need can fulfill the dream of going to college), and classroom grants for teachers (so teachers can continue providing creative teaching opportunities without having to reach into their own pockets and purses).  The foundation was holding a special fundraising dinner, and they asked me to be the keynote speaker.

The day before the event I had some TV spots, and that afternoon I had a chance to drive around the city and visit my old haunts.  The first was the house where I grew up.  We lived in 4 different houses in Abilene throughout my childhood, but this one was the longest and most memorable.  It was a small, humble rent house on a dusty, weedy lot.  There were always possums or raccoons living under the house.  Occasionally we’d find snakes INSIDE the house!  (No rattlesnakes inside, thank God, but plenty of them outside!)  But it was home.  It didn’t look like anyone was living there now.  Bittersweet to see it.

I also got to eat some barbecue at Joe Allen’s, which is an Abilene institution.  Joe Allen is a local rancher who raises much of the meat that he cooks at his legendary restaurant.  More changes, though.  The old, greasy, smoky dive I was familiar with had been torn down, and a new building was going up in its place.  The restaurant had moved around the corner to a new, clean, spic-and-span facility which had none of the greasy down-home character of the old one.  It was sad, but the food was still good!  Of course, the Abilene Reporter News sent a photographer to document their home-grown celeb eating at his favorite BBQ joint.  Unfortunately, the photos ran on the FRONT PAGE of the paper the next morning, including one of me with BBQ sauce all over my lips!


The night of the event, I got to invite many of my old teachers, who I was able to “roast” in my speech!  It was lots of fun.  I got to visit, poke fun of, and thank people who had an instrumental hand in the development of my personality, skill, and character.  It was incredibly emotional.  Many of the teachers had retired, like Mr. Cheek, my calculus teacher.  In my speech I talked about how I couldn’t even remember what a calculus derivative is…it’s been 17 years since I was in Mr. Cheek’s class.  But almost every day I remember him, his personality, how he used to throw chalk at my head when I’d give a stupid answer…  And how my interaction with him inside and outside the classroom taught me to be an adult who, despite being almost totally right-brained, would sit down and work through any problem in life from a calculated and logical perspective.  He taught me that even though you may be in a position of supreme responsibility…you can always have fun and throw chalk at someone to break the ice.  I believe I owe much of my public speaking style to Mr. Cheek.

Speaking of which…I opened the speech with the musing that, while in high school, I was a very prolific public speaker.  Almost weekly I was speaking at a Lion’s Club or Rotary Club dinner, or in a public speaking competition somewhere in the nation.  But when I graduated from Wylie in 1995, when I was 17 years old…I gave my last public speech.  And now I was back on that same stage…17 years later…giving my first public speech in 17 years.

Time flies.

Miss White!  One of my favorite teachers.  Like I had mentioned earlier, I couldn’t actually remember WHAT science class Miss White taught, or what year I was when I took it.  My interaction with Miss White was almost entirely outside the classroom.  She was one of those teachers who poured EVERY INSTANT of her life into teaching.  The 7 hour class day, for her, was sandwiched between HOURS of sponsoring cheerleading, speech and drama, academic clubs, student council.  I traveled all over the state with Miss White during my 4 years in high school.

When Miss White was teaching, her hair was dyed purple.  Of course, she preferred to call it “Eggplant” and would snap at me any time I referred to her purple hair.  “It’s EGGPLANT, Ben.”  So it was fun to tell her how eggplant has become one of my favorite ingredients, I grow it in my garden and cook with it all the time, and EVERY time I cut into an eggplant, I think of her.

Miss White was one of those teachers that always made you feel like you were an equal.  She never talked down on you.  She always considered your opinions, no matter how immature or uneducated!  And she’s the one who really taught me how to be a fun person.  Virtually everything she ever said was followed with a laugh.  I have such incredibly fond memories of Miss White…it brought tears to my eyes to see her again.

And then there’s Mrs. Davis.  Linda Davis was my honors English teacher my junior year.  Mrs. Davis is a polio survivor, but the childhood disease left her without the use of one arm, and with limited use of the other.  She had been teaching at Wylie for a long time before she taught me and all 3 of my siblings, and she is STILL teaching there today!  She’s legendary.  And, as you can imagine with kids around, she endures countless jokes about her disability.

One of my most potent memories in high school is of Mrs. Davis stapling papers.  A less determined teacher might just allow her teacher’s aid to do the stapling, considering she only has motor control over half of one hand.  But not Mrs. Davis!  While we would be fastidiously doing a vocabulary test, she would staple papers by carefully moving the papers into place in the stapler using the hand that she could move, then swinging the arm she had no control over on top of the stapler using the force of her shoulder, then slamming her chin down onto the hand which would depress the stapler.  Understandably, there were lots of jokes about her paper stapling methods…but to me, it taught me I could never take a single thing for granted.  Stapling papers is a menial, mindless task for most of us.  For Mrs. Davis, it was somewhat monumental.  But she found a way to do it herself, despite the odds.

Of course, stapling papers isn’t nearly the biggest impact Mrs. Davis had on me.  She helped me hone my writing skills and fall in love with literature.  And, for many major projects, she offered an option to create a short film, rather than a paper, which has directly led me to the love for television and film that I have today, and the fact that I was directing and acting in short films as a teenager developed the comfort and naturalism I feel when a camera is pointed at me today.

I was honored to have Mrs. Davis introduce me at the dinner…and without further ado, I’ll share with you some video clips from that night.  Oh…and we raised over $90,000 for scholarships and classroom grants that evening alone.  They auctioned off one of my pumpkin carrot cakes, and it went for $1500!!!