"This is a potentially life-changing competition," Bastianich says of the contestant's use of strategy
Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX (2)

After Monday’s MasterChef with its exhausting team challenge, the remaining top 15 contestants get thrown right back into the ring with what is hands-down the most difficult mystery box challenge in the history of MasterChef. A jarring selection of offal is what awaited our home cooks, and judging by their shocked and disgusted faces, they certainly didn’t see this one coming! Tripe, chicken liver, bull testicles, sweet breads, and even a lamb’s head – it was quite the display.

“Surprise” could have been the theme of the day, because what we judges tasted was nothing short of amazing! One phenomenal dish after another – this was something we certainly were not expecting. Sweet breads reigned supreme, and rounded out the top three dishes by Becky (no surprise there), Ryan and Christine. Ryan’s performance thus far has been spotty, so this was a win he really needed. It was perfectly executed, plated well and tasted simply delicious.

Speaking of Ryan, he certainly tells it like is! Given several huge advantages going into the elimination, he was not afraid to make the necessary choices concerning which ingredients to give his competitors – something I was glad to see. It was perhaps ruthless, especially regarding his choice to give the blind contestant a live crab, but this is a potentially life-changing competition! Thousands want this opportunity, so kudos to him for having the guts to go full throttle. Christine is a big girl, and no one with a disability wants to be treated differently, so I think he made the right call. Truth be told, I was beginning to count him out for the win, but now I’m left curious.

As keen as his strategy might have been, things didn’t quite pan out – his boy Tali made an absolute mess of a gorgeous dungeness crab – that was painful. Tali is on real thin ice at this point – I have no use for delusional arrogance. Christine sure turned the tables, and produced her third stellar dish in a row. Her focus is noteworthy, and after some initial struggle, she went to work on that crab and really delivered.

Thanks for reading and tune in next week to MasterChef (9 p.m. ET) as our home cooks experience their first professional kitchen! And for even more insider insight into the world of restaurants, pick up my memoir Restaurant Man, wherever books are sold!