Rainbow marshmallows, packaged sliced cheese, chocolate and ketchup were the ingredients the contestants had to work with

By Joe Bastianich
August 29, 2013 12:30 PM
Credit: FOX (2)

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.

With only five home cooks left from what was arguably our strongest crop of contestants in the history of MasterChef, they should expect only the unexpected. We wanted to test just how capable our finalists could be at integrating and manipulating a true smorgasbord of ingredients into a restaurant quality dish.

Who better to trust with choosing such a random selection than kids?

We judges were thrilled to welcome our sons – Ethan, Jack, Conrad and Miles – to join us in the MasterChef kitchen!

After being presented with such culinary gems as rainbow marshmallows, packaged sliced cheese, chocolate and ketchup, the cute factor faded pretty quickly, huh? The haphazard assortment courtesy of the peanut gallery clearly screamed dessert, yet oddly enough it was our two strongest bakers who were absent from the top three. Simple pancakes from Natasa is something I really couldn’t stomach – what a waste of her talent. It just goes to show that it is still very much anyone’s game.

On the other hand, Luca’s white chocolate and pineapple napoleon was exactly what we were hoping for. Jessie and James too exceeded our expectations and made the best possible use out of what they were given.

Recreating a dish from taste alone is a great way to gage the palates of our home cooks. It is obvious that Krissi‘s is the least experienced palate, and I can’t fault her for that. Not everyone has the means or the opportunity to dine out frequently, let alone experience big city three- and four-star restaurants, so she is at a disadvantage here.

However, what I can fault her for is her attitude. For someone who acts so tough, she sure scares easy. I firmly believe that people perform at their best when pushed hard. Would Krissi really have been walking past Natasha up those stairs had I coddled her insecurities? I doubt it. She has to learn to do this for herself, otherwise this industry isn’t for her.

At the end of the day, we could not in good conscious send anyone home for their broth. All five made us extremely proud and earned their right to stay in the competition. Unfortunately the same case could not be made for the next elimination challenge, and we had to say goodbye to James. Focused and clever, James consistently kept himself in the top of half of the pack for what has been an extremely grueling and draining experience. He has left this competition much stronger than when he started. He’s made good use of his time here and I hope he keeps cooking.

The final four rounds out with Luca and the ladies – but unfortunately next week’s episode is anything but pretty. Tune in for what was one of the most heated and dramatic days of season 4. Thanks for reading!