Matt Hoyle/FOX
Joe Bastianich
July 25, 2013 09:00 AM

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

Wednesday night’s MasterChef featured what was by far my favorite team challenge of the season. Stranded in the beautiful California wilderness and armed with little more than a camping knife and skillet (essentially nothing), both teams turned in dishes that completely surpassed expectations. Our final eight proved they can cook anywhere and with anything. Deciding the victor was a very tough call.

The blue team’s inclusion of pasta showed real ingenuity in addition to skill (genius idea by Bri), but ultimately we had to acknowledge the red team’s pigeon. Once again, Eddie’s knack for handling proteins secures the win for his team. MVP, indeed! The man just cannot go wrong when it comes to meat. That pigeon was as good as I’ve ever had it.

Working in a restaurant means being part of a family, albeit usually a slightly dysfunctional one. Nothing is accomplished independently. With teamwork being so essential, Krissi’s ignorant and counterproductive comments are getting old fast. Considering she already lags many of her competitors in her aptitude in the kitchen, she’d be wise to focus on what she is putting on the plate. Kudos to Bri for holding her own while still maintaining a sense of decorum and maturity.

Although the team challenge was stellar, the chefs’ performance in the éclair elimination challenge was woefully low. Watching three solid contenders flounder at the end was a true letdown. Jessie is lucky, because backstage, the decision was a close one.

This late in the game, it’s difficult to let anyone go. Gordon, Graham and I have spent months mentoring this group. We’ve watched them struggle to get past their initial skill set and become the most competent group out of all four seasons of MasterChef USA. Although she didn’t particularly impressive me initially, Bri earned my respect, and I am a little regretful that her time with us is over. She’s a lovely young woman with a bright future in food, and I hope she continues working toward her dream. Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is calling you, Bri!

Tune in next Wednesday at 9/8c on FOX as our contestants get a welcome surprise from home. Thanks for reading!

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