Plus: Why Natasha better watch it

By Joe Bastianich
Updated May 30, 2013 08:30 AM
FOX (2)

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

This week’s episode of MasterChef proves you can’t “fake it ’till you make it” on season 4. As a competition show, we’ve graduated beyond entry-level challenges of chopping onions and peeling apples – and this year’s top 40 delivered. I wonder how many of our home cooks thought – even just for a second – we were going to make them slaughter that baby lamb. The look on the vegetarian’s face was priceless! It was certainly a night of surprises.

Immediately cutting the less talented contestants was liberating, and that enabled a very strong group to move forward to our first mystery-box challenge. Saying goodbye to Brian, especially after his weasel like behavior at elimination, was no loss for me. Now Luca, on the other hand, gave us judges a bit of a scare. He has considerable talent, but where is his judgment? This is the time to bring your A-game – not to experiment. To come that close to being eliminated on day one, after having spent the last year preparing for a second chance at the MasterChef title, is, quite frankly, disturbing. You are on thin ice amico mio.

The highlight of the episode for me had to be Natasha’s lemon tart. Worthy of a spot on the dessert menu at any of our restaurants, it was nothing short of inventive, delicious and perfect. Quite impressive for her first day in the competition!

Unfortunately, her poor attitude could use some work. And I’ve got news for her regarding Krissi – don’t mistake a lack of sophistication for a lack of brains. My advice to Natasha would be to quit picking fights with people who are a little bit smarter than you, stop yapping about your self-proclaimed beauty because no one cares and put your energy into what you are creating on the plate. If you can grow up a little bit and do that, I predict we will see amazing things from you in this competition. Take a look back at seasons past – arrogant smugness never gets the win.

Speaking of Krissi, she is holding her own as one to watch, which is surprising considering how simple her dishes are. A basic mac and cheese, a frittata and meatloaf can be (and usually are) boring in the hands of most people. They do not impress. However, what does is an ability to create magic out of the most basic ingredients. That’s something only a true talent – a true chef – can do. And so far she’s the only one who has pulled this off consistently.

Sadly we ended the night by saying goodbye to the vivacious Sasha Fox. We won’t miss her food, but we will miss her sassy commentary and good-natured humor. Tune in next week (Wednesday 8 p.m. ET on Fox) as our home cooks face their first team challenge!