The home cooks go from inspiring to disappointing, writes judge Joe Bastianich
Credit: Matt Hoyle/FOX

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

Season 4’s remaining home cooks are the strongest group we’ve seen on MasterChef, and at no time was this more apparent than during Wednesday night’s Mystery Box challenge.

Everyone was in their element. It was an inspiring moment of transformation from amateur home cook to actual chef, and I was very proud of the dishes they put forth.

Even Jonny finally reined himself in and ended up producing his best dish yet. Coupled with a return to the MasterChef kitchen from the gracious and talented season 3 winner, Christine Ha, the night was off to a phenomenal start.

Sadly, the momentum didn’t last through the elimination challenge.

For me, Luca was the biggest disappointment for the night. I can’t stomach that an Italian actually produced that sloppy mess of a dish he claims was risotto. He should have dropped it on the way up to the judges’ table. Why doesn’t anyone think of that? His poor judgment is trumping any talent he has, and I worry about his future in the competition.

In hindsight, asking our home cooks to prepare the entrée for serious foodies at a 100-person wedding reception was probably out of their league. However, that’s the reality of this business. Throwing dinner parties for friends back home is nothing like preparing food for paying customers, and at some point, these chefs have to be thrown into the ring.

The blue team’s decent into chaos was disheartening. Proper expediting is key, and although it looks much easier than it actually is, good organization and plain old hustle are at the heart of it. It’s not rocket science. Though it was primarily left on the cutting-room floor, James worked extremely hard to get it together for his team. Unfortunately, he just could not make it happen in time to turn things around, forcing Graham to step in. Service is an important element of “business” in this business, and I find it’s what our contestants struggle with the most year after year.

It was the right time for Jonny and Beth to move on. When things got rocky at the reception, Jonny completely checked out, just as he did when he smashed the macaroons. This competition is a grueling one, and at a certain point, everyone hits the wall.

Tune in July 10 for an all-new MasterChef when we will have the beautiful Eva Longoria as a guest judge – and thanks for reading!