Whew! The "MasterChef" finale came mighty close to including the most reviled competitor in show history. Instead, the final two competitors standing will include the second-most disliked competitor of the season, Natasha Crnjac, a 26-year-old homemaker from San Diego.
Now, Natasha will face off with Luca Manfe, a 31-year-old restaurant manager from New York City, he with the charming accent and the never-give-up story line. His first stab at "MasterChef" was a failure, but he came back for more and fought his way into the finale by absorbing every polishing note the judges hand him.
But will it be enough to pull past Natasha, whose multicultural background has seemingly given her the dazzling ability to cook across an array of cuisines -- while teetering on stilettos?
If it comes down to calculated cooking chops and flat-out shrewdness, Natasha has this won.
Let's not forget, after all, that this is the woman who needed a garlic handout from a fellow competitor just a few short challenges ago, yet refused to pay it forward when Jessie needed some butter this week because, hey, a competition is a competition, right?
Or will Luca bring the most heart to the finale and edge her out? (Luca being the guy who gave Natasha some of his garlic when she needed it, and also gave Jessie the needed butter. He has said repeatedly he wants to cook his way to the top, not win by trying to submarine someone else. Awwwwww.)
Winnowing the field down to the final two was a decision nearly overshadowed by the other "news" of the night: The elimination of The Beast.
When Krissi roared into "MasterChef" competition, she seemed like an instant fan favorite. She was a struggling single mom who tawked Philly tough and cooked homey, rustic dishes that reminded Joe Bastianich of his momma's cooking. (No small compliment, given that his mother is Italian cooking legend Lidia Bastianich.)
Krissi's food might not look as if it belonged in a five-star restaurant -- but you'd certainly like to see it on your dinner plate. As a result, it was easy to envision Krissi using "MasterChef" as a launching pad, a platform, for helping moms and dads nationwide who love cooking yet still feel overwhelmed by the daily dinner-time dash.
And, who knows, that can still happen.
It's just that much harder when you've transformed yourself into the most hated contestant in "MasterChef" history, and earned a nickname The Beast.
Krissi is either as ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, hypocritical and self-absorbed as she appeared on TV -- or she was playing it up for the cameras, knowing that's one sure way to get camera time? Either way, Krissi proved to be such an unlikable personality that it became hard to root for her, even though her cooking skills were standout and her son was as cute as a button.
It made for good TV, sure, but who is the ultimate beneficiary of that when the season wraps?
What do you think? Too harsh of an assessment of Krissi? Will she be able to leverage this beyond local Philly stardom?
Krissi's departure was quickly followed by Jessie's elimination, leaving Luca and Natasha as the final two standing. Natasha was thrust into the early role as the show's villainess, in part because she enjoyed pointing out how pretty she is and how talented she is, and generally being high on herself.
Like Krissi, Natasha seems to enjoy playing the baddie -- but is she winning the battle and losing the war? America, do you want her to be your new "MasterChef"?
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