Matt Hoyle/FOX
Joe Bastianich
May 23, 2013 07:15 PM

Joe Bastianich is a restaurateur, winemaker, author and one of the judges of MasterChef. He’ll be blogging each week about the show’s search for the best home cooks. Follow him on Twitter @Jbastianich or visit his

Hello, MasterChef fans!

It is great to be back for another season of the world’s most-watched culinary competition show! In addition to having some of our strongest contenders to date, season 4 brings some pretty amazing guests judges, including the great Paula Deen and the easy-on-the-eyes (and very restaurant savvy) Eva Longoria, to name a few …

The audition rounds are always a bit nerve-wracking for the judges – we really aren’t sure what we’ll be subjected to, dish-wise. After three seasons, arriving on set conjures up some not-too-distant memories of bad gator, naked sushi and raw, unsanitary meat.

But right out of the gate we saw home cooks ready to perform at the MasterChef level – like Krissi from Philadelphia. Although her dish (meatloaf) was a bit simplistic, she executed it perfectly, and the confidence she has came through on the plate. This is a person with culinary know-how, and combined with her skill and drive, she is someone to take seriously. Krissi is a struggling single mom but seems to handle her circumstances with tenacity and strength. I can’t wait to see more from her.

Speaking of strength and tenacity, Rudy was another contestant who impressed – albeit more for his character than for his food. A survivor of the 2003 San Diego wildfires, Rudy was trapped behind the fire line after going door to door warning residents, and was left with 70 percent his body burned.

Gordon, Graham and I really hoped he would perform better. His dish was by the far the biggest disappointment – not because it was poor (on the contrary, it was actually decent), but because we wanted so badly to give back to someone who is truly deserving of having his dreams come true. I hope he keeps cooking.

On the other side of the coin, season 4 auditions were not without attention-seeking time-wasters such a Ms. Breast Milk Mac and Cheese. I hope she enjoyed her 20 seconds of cringe-inducing fame, which personified ridiculousness. I don’t even find these kinds of stunts amusing anymore.

We’ve got a few other fakers to weed out, as well – such as Brian from Texas … How could Gordon and Graham have given him an apron? Now I’m all for someone who is passionate, but there is passion – and then there is intensity that borders on psychotic. Our friend Brian, sadly, is the latter. I do trust my fellow judges, so perhaps they see something I don’t, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Tune in next week as we round out the auditions to find season 4’s top home cooks.

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