Joe Bastianich is a restaurateur, winemaker, author and one of the judges of MasterChef. He is blogging each week about the show’s search for the best home cooks. Follow him on Twitter @Jbastianich or visit joebastianich.com.
This week’s MasterChef episode featured the highly anticipated (and dreaded) restaurant takeover! For me, this is one of the highlights of every season. We were honored – and nervous – to be given the reins of the great Wolfgang Puck’s amazing L.A. eatery, WP 24.
Performing in a professional restaurant kitchen at this high a level is always a turning point for our remaining home cooks. The pressure, the heat, the almost impossibly fast pace at which you need work – this is the reality of working in the culinary industry. This is what professional chefs do night after night.
The world of food and wine now exudes a sense of celebrity that we didn’t have in years past. And while that glamorization has had a positive impact in our industry, it gives me pause with regard to our home cooks. There is a small fear that creeps up during the audition round when we judges first get a look at our top 100. I can’t help but wonder, are they in love with cooking, or in love with the limelight? There’s only one true way to tell, and it’s trial by fire – to literally throw them into a dinner service, and let them sink or swim. Krissi most definitely sank.
She was by no means in an easy situation – these were complicated, technical dishes – but I was surprised at how she just broke. Truth be told, I believe her teammates where very closely behind her. Neither Bri nor James stepped in to help salvage the shrimp entrees – not even to save themselves – and I think it was because they were just as lost as she was.
Once again I have to hand it to Natasha. After a rough start, she lead a much stronger and more cohesive team. Neither she nor Luca had any trouble shaking off the initial flub with the steamer, leaving them free to concentrate on putting out killer entrees. Bri was right – they all banged out their first high-stakes dinner service and got the room fed … for the most part. All in all, we judges were proud of their performance.
The calamari elimination was another story. No one performed at the anticipated level. Given her obvious breakdown at WP24, everyone up on the balcony had their money on Krissi departing, but what’s fair is fair, and Bri’s plate was indeed the worst of the three.
Bri has a promising future in food. She is really just a baby – 22 years old! Making it to the top five in the MasterChef kitchen is something she should always be proud of.
Next week features a very special episode: Gordon, Graham and I will welcome our sons to L.A. to help us choose the ingredients for our top five’s next mystery box challenge. Tune-in as we are joined by Conrad, Miles, Jack and Ethan in the MasterChef kitchen! Thanks for reading!