09/12/2013 at 06:45 PM EDT
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.
In what was the absolute closest call to date in all four seasons of MasterChef
USA, Italian Stallion Luca defeated Croatian Sensation Natasha by the slimmest of slim margins!
What an amazing end to what has been hands down the most inspiring and impressive season yet. Watching these two compete
in the finale was as if we were viewing a competition featuring actual professional chefs.
Both Natasha and Luca have grown immensely in the three months they were in the MasterChef
kitchen, and by the end it really showed. Neither possessed any doubt. They were ready and confident they’d earned their place in the top two
I understand Gordon's passing thought of calling it a draw. It was really that close of a call. Although it was tempting to reward both for such an above par performance, it would not have been fair to ignore Luca's edge, no matter how slight.
Asking the two to share the title ultimately would have been poor way of showing appreciation for just how far they both came. No one works their tail off to tie.
Natasha was quite outspoken from day one – to the point that had she not learned to curb the attitude a bit, it may have hindered her progression in the kitchen.
As the ego mellowed, her strength and focus intensified. The force of that biting commentary that so easily came out of her mouth in the early days was instead channeled into what she was producing on the plate. I think the competition aspect of this show was indeed a growing experience for her, as she learned to compete fiercely, yet graciously.
Technically we saw her lose last night, but she will never be remembered as a loser. I don't know what her next step in the culinary world is, but no matter the endeavor, she has my full vote of confidence.
From being rejected at the audition round of season three, to possessing both the nerve and dedication to returning even stronger for season four, Luca's compelling journey
serves as an inspiration to anyone struggling to pursue their dream, especially those who've hit a few road blocks along the way. Not everyone is meant to nail on the first try, but Luca is proof that perseverance really can prevail.
Talent aside, I must admit that it is really nice to see victory happen to such a kind and good person. Always taking the high road, Luca's character
is as commendable as his skills in the kitchen. He emerged victorious from a severely cutthroat competition, yet never once strayed from his admirable character.
I guess nice guys don't always finish last. Good for you Luca.
Casting for season five is already underway
, so if you think you can handle competing in the MasterChef
kitchen, come out to a city near you starting this fall.