Little Rock lifestyle blogger Jennifer Maune competing in … – Arkansas Times

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Jennifer Maune, a Little Rock home chef/lifestyle blogger, has made it to the finale of  FOX’s reality cooking show MasterChef: United States of America. Hosted by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, the show’s 20 competitors are all home chefs. Competitors are split into four teams with five chefs each representing the West, Midwest, Northeast and South.
Maune, 42, is the lone finalist representing the South. She’s up against Kennedy U., 26, a festival vendor from Denver, representing the West; and Grant Gillon, 32, a brewery sales director from Altoona, Iowa, representing the Midwest.
Maune’s website features recipes and tips about home design, DIY projects and entertaining. Her bio says she decided to get a culinary degree at age 40 when she was pregnant with her sixth child. It says she recently obtained an Associate Degree in Pastry Arts and was seeking an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts earlier this year. Maune’s also been a licensed realtor since 2008.
On the penultimate episode, Maune was challenged to make a stuffed pasta dish with red beet pasta dough.
She prepared a beet root pasta with a veal osso buco ricotta filling and a veal demi-glace and red wine reduction.
Hulu doesn’t allow screenshots, so I can’t post a photo of the dish here, but it looked stunning.
“I am thrilled with the way my dish looks. It is so feminine and beautiful, and it makes me so proud,” Maune said in a confessional interview.
“Visually, it’s just so beautiful,” Ramsay said. “The sheen from the sauce, the delicacy of the stuffed pasta. Great job.”
After taking a careful bite, judge Joe Bastianich said, “It’s delicious. Perfect. No comment.”
“That’s high praise from Joe Bastianich,” judge Aarón Sánchez said.
The final challenge of the episode looked like a true nightmare for any chef. The contestants had to follow Ramsay’s lead and instruction as they all prepared one of his signature dishes simultaneously: A coffee crusted loin of venison served with truffle gnocchi, cauliflower puree and a red wine chocolate sauce.
“I’ve made dishes like this before,” Maune said, “but at my own pace, not at Michelin chef Ramsay pace.”
Maune had to present her plate to the three judges, as they chewed it with as much suspense as humanly possible.
Ramsay told Maune her sauce appeared to be over-reduced.
“It went into a hot pan, so I think it broke it,” Maune said.
“What a shame,” Ramsay said.
“Is there a reason you didn’t put the put the cauliflower puree on the plate as well?” Bastianich asked.
“I missed that step right at the end,” Maune said.
Bastianich and Sánchez looked at each other with equal glares of disapproval.
“You fell behind and it shows,” Ramsay said. “It’s a shame, but that gnocchi is beautiful.”
The four remaining finalists held hands as the judges deliberated. Maune and chef Reagan Sidney, a paralegal from New Orleans, appeared the two chefs the judges considered sending home. Both Maune and Sidney told each other “I love you,” as they awaited their fate.
Sidney was sent home. Ramsay told Maune her venison needed a touch more seasoning and the sauce needed work, “but everything was there and the gnocchi was the best of the night. You have so earned yourself a spot in the finale,” he said.
“It is just an incredible moment for me,” Maune later said. “I’m so close to my dreams.”
The MasterChef season finale airs on FOX tonight at 7 p.m.
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