Francis Biondi is still cooking and perfecting the team surf and turf dish in his head. “Maybe if we had made a saffron crab cake with a radicchio salad and gastric to go with the Moroccan steak, our dish would have been elevated enough for the judges. I don’t know, our dish was a good dish, it was solid.” It was a bit surprising to see the duo that made a tasty dish, then move on to the dreaded pressure test. MasterChef judge, Gordon Ramsay, declared the dish “bland” and clearly expected more of the two solid chefs. Maybe things played out as teammate Courtney intended when she paired the teams; the judges automatically had higher expectations for the strong duo. Francis B shared that he felt like he was having an “off day”, but that he and Christian tasted the dish and it was good. He let Christian take the lead in picking the components in the pantry and took it as a challenge to push himself to up his game. He thought they had enough to move on to the next episode, as evidenced by his comments televised in the episode. Francis and Christian ended up headed for the elimination round, instead.
When the pressure test was announced as spring rolls, I thought to myself “He’s got this.” In my first chat with Francis B he mentioned growing up cooking with his family, so I knew he had to have made a ton of Lumpia in his lifetime. (Lumpia is a the Filipino equivalent to spring rolls.) The pressure test ended with Francis B exiting the show and a lot of viewers wondering “What just happened?!” Fellow contestant, Cutter, also had problems with his spring roll and had watched his duo challenge meal chucked in the trash. Shouldn’t Cutter have been the first choice to be eliminated? Francis B was equally surprised “It was hard to watch.” What about the outcry on social media? Francis B has been interacting with fans all week on his Facebook page, Twitter and more. “I seem to have a big following on social media, it’s been interesting to talk with people and hear their thoughts. I’ve even had offers for lessons on how to make doughnuts and spring rolls.” he shared with a laugh.
So about those springrolls…
“My filling was great. The judges came by, tasted and told me it was a really great filling. But I’ve never made a spring roll or Lumpia with freshly made pasta sheets. Lumpia aren’t made that way. I saw Dan using the pasta roller and thought maybe I should have gone that way, but I’ve always used the hand roller when making pasta. I got that pasta thin.” It all came down to the temperature of the oil in the fryer. “When you are in the MasterChef kitchen, it’s all about time constraints. If I had noticed that the fryer oil wasn’t hot enough before I put the spring rolls in, I would have dumped the oil into a dutch oven and done a stove-top fry. I guess not everything works perfectly, even in the MasterChef kitchen.”
So when Gordon Ramsay stopped by Francis B’s cooking station and declared the fried spring rolls anemic-looking before the judging, Francis took action and fell back on his roots. “Lumpia are cooked on the stove-top in a very shallow fry,” he quickly poured a small amount of oil in a pan and tried to get some color on his cooked spring rolls. The judges weren’t pleased and we all know the rest. Francis B has been busting out spring rolls ever since, this week he even posted a picture of perfectly made spring rolls ready for the fryer. You can look for some of Francis B’s in-depth thoughts on his MasterChef exit and some tips on making your own Spring Rolls on his new blog, in the next few days.
If you’ve been watching MasterChef you know that in past seasons there has been a occasional redemption challenge, when former contestants from the season get to battle for a chance back into the Masterchef competition. I asked if there was a redemption challenge this season and if we would we see him cooking on MasterChef again. His answer was neither a confirmation or a denial, “That certainly is a possibility. You’ll have to watch & see.” He would confirm that he will be on the finale show when the winner was announced.
Until then, Francis B is keeping busy working, gearing up to compete in several golf tournaments, working on his new food blog, accepting private chef work and collaborating on charity events, like the upcoming Share our Strength’s Taste of The Nation event to benefit No Kid Hungry on August 9th, 2014. He hopes to see some of his MasterChef fans and supporters at this great charity food event!
These are busy times for Francis Biondi, who is open to the opportunities that are unfolding. Maybe there is a way for him to pursue his love of food while also working in his golf aspirations? I would love to see him touring a few of the wonderful Florida golf courses and collaborating with on-site chefs on a featured dish. Does that sound like a Golf Channel show in the making? Maybe a highlight of a charity golf tournament or a special event at Bay Hill during The Arnold Palmer Invitational? Only time will tell.
Hal Boedecker from the Orlando Sentinel teased in his article this week that there may be Francis B Spring Rolls at Txokos Basque Kitchen at the East End Market this weekend. “I am making a bunch for the kitchen crew and bringing them in this weekend for them to enjoy,” Francis confirmed. Who knows, maybe a few lucky patrons will get to sample a Francis Biondi Spring Roll. Joe Bastianich called it early when he said, “Keep your eye on Francis B, he’s one to watch.” Indeed.