'MasterChef' 's Joe Bastianich Blogs About Paula Deen's Surprise Appearance

"It was a true pleasure having Paula join us on set," Bastianich writes of the guest star

Photo: Michael Lavine/FOX; Carlo Allegri/AP

Tuesday’s episode of MasterChef was a turbulent ride for our remaining seven home cooks. We threw them into the fire with our first ever tag team elimination challenge, and the results proved that it did indeed push everyone to the breaking point.

Monti and Felix were downright impressive, and not just because Felix has experience with sushi. Their plate was a result of exemplary team work. It’s no secret that they don’t particularly care for each other, but they checked their egos at the door, communicated beautifully and gave us exactly what the judges were looking for. We certainly cannot say the same for Becky and David.

Frank has come a long way from his one-trick pony days of plate after plate of pasta. Taking a spin on traditional Southern food from none other than the great Paula Deen, arguably the reigning lady of Southern cuisine, was risky to say the least. But kudos to him – he pulled it off nicely.

Seeing the more savvy side of Frank emerge was also a relief. A gentleman he might be, but a fool he is not – and at this point, being Mr. Nice Guy won’t bring home the title.

It was a true pleasure having Paula join us on set. Always gracious and warm, she gave our home cooks some much needed positive support and inspiration. Revealing her presence underneath that giant mystery box invigorated the room, and it was thrilling to see the joy on everyone’s faces. Her brilliant idea of reaching out to our home cooks’ families proved to be very necessary, but it sadly came too late for Stacey.

Her performance throughout the sushi challenge was disturbing – she was not herself, and completely unraveled in a mere hour. All in all, it was likely the cumulative effect of a long and exhausting competition. She just didn’t have the stamina – and let’s face it, most of us don’t. Uprooting your life, leaving friends, family and your job – combined with an intense (not to mention taped for national television) competition – is not doable for everyone. It was difficult watching her go, having saved her from an initial rejection during the audition round, but she made me proud.

Get ready for next week when the plot thickens as we are joined by some very familiar faces! Thanks for reading everyone.

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