MasterChef is a big deal when it comes to cooking shows. It has been on for ten seasons in the US, and an 11th season is on the way. The show is probably the largest and most popular cooking show. It is hosted by chef Gordon Ramsay, who is joined by judges like Joe Bastianich, Christina Tosi, and Aarón Sánchez. People keep watching because of the tough competition, the fast-paced cooking challenges, and Gordon Ramsay’s famous cutting judgments.
Still, what you see on MasterChef is only a tiny part of what goes on behind the scenes. Most contestants have signed contracts that say they wouldn’t know anything about what goes on behind the scenes.
But after their contracts were up, several former judges and contestants have come forward and written or given interviews about what goes on at the MasterChef set. It can be a tough one. The competition is very stressful, but that’s only a tiny part of the long days of filming, isolation from the outside world, and total immersion in cooking. Here’s what the cameras don’t show you about what it’s like to be a contestant on MasterChef. Even a long-running show like MasterChef can have a lot of surprises for viewers if they ever get a chance to visit the set.
Some of the last MasterChef chaos is put on display.
On MasterChef, the countdown is authentic and is made to happen. When the clock stops moving, there is no cooking at all. But the camera keeps going long after the clock stops. When there are a lot of contestants early in the season, it takes time to record everything that is going on. It can take more than one try to get the right shot.
When the timer goes off, the cooks leave their dishes alone. Then, they are asked to re-create the excitement of the last few minutes of the competition so that the cameras can catch all of the action. Even though the contestants aren’t allowed to change their dishes, they try to recreate the final scramble by moving their plates around and putting things on the countertops in different places.
Alice Zaslavsky writes in the fourth season of MasterChef Australia, “When we were done cooking, we had to step away from the bench, put all of our tools down, and stop touching the dish. For the next two or three minutes, we had to act like we were fussing with our plates.” There is probably still a lot to tempt you. “I realized I had forgotten to add salt to my peas, but the salt was so close to my hand, and I knew there were five cameras on me, so I couldn’t do anything!” says Zaslavsky. Even though the temptation is strong, the standards and practices of people who walk around the set, as judge Christina Tosi said, are stronger (via Lucky Peach).
The food that MasterChef judges are given is cold.
On TV, it seems like everything on MasterChef happens so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. The contestants cook their food quickly and then rush to get it on plates. A few minutes later, the judges try each dish and decide who gets immunity and who needs to cook even better to stay in the competition. All of this happens in less than an hour on TV, but we know that the first challenge usually takes at least an hour. In real life, those last dishes take a lot longer to get to the final judging scene.
“As soon as the challenge was over, while everything was still hot, the judges would walk around and try the food. If you were smart, you’d put a little bit of everything on a second plate so they could try everything “In season four of MasterChef Australia, Alice Zaslavsky says the following. “When you’re done cooking, they take your plate and take a picture of it from above so it looks fresh. Then, all the dishes go right into the fridge, and the cast and crew take a break for lunch.”
When everyone returns from a break, the dishes are just removed from the fridge. That’s what is used to film the final scenes with the judges, so they must act like they are eating cold leftovers. Maybe that’s what makes Ramsay treat food he doesn’t like so badly.
People who want to be MasterChef have to pass a psychological test.
It can be stressful to watch MasterChef. With every shocking turn, you’re on the edge of your seat, screaming or crying at the screen. With only two minutes left, how could you burn the endives? But of course, the stress the contestants are under is much worse, and it may even be made worse on purpose to make for better TV drama. Before they come on set, each potential cook undergoes a psychological test and a background check. This is to make sure they can handle the metaphorical heat.
MasterChef season 3’s Jessie Glenn writes at Salon, “You all take a two-hour personality test similar to the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which is a bit out of date (MMPI). While you wait, a computer analyzes the test, and the results are given to a psychiatrist, who meets with each possible contestant.” She says, “You don’t get to see how things turn out. I thought the test’s point was to find out what kind of dramatic qualities each person had that could be used later as a plot twist.”
As if that wasn’t scary enough, Glenn then talks about how she spoke to the private detective checking her background. The detective asked her many detailed questions about her finances, job history, and even her legal past. Even though it might make sense from a production point of view, the contestants are probably surprised to be looked into so thoroughly.
The contestants on MasterChef don’t use any recipes.
Can you imagine walking into your kitchen and making a fantastic meal from scratch without recipes or other references to help you? Imagine doing that while the clock is ticking and Gordon Ramsay is waiting to judge your work, maybe with one of his now-famous insults.
Sure, some people can handle it, but let’s be honest. Even if we have step-by-step instructions in front of us, most of us are not ready for Ramsay to yell at us for burning the risotto. Few people would be brave enough to take on such a challenge without these rules. But that’s precisely what happens to those who try out for MasterChef. Since contestants aren’t allowed to use recipes in the kitchen, they have to rely on tried-and-true techniques, help from the chefs when they offer it, and a lot of luck.
“It’s creepy. Sometimes you think, “Oh my God, it worked!” I don’t know any other way to explain it other than that it is amazing what the human brain can remember when you’re under pressure,” season 5 MasterChef contestant Elise Mayfield told AV Club. Then what do they do? It turns out that studying for MasterChef is a lot like studying for graduate school. “I put myself through a mini cooking boot camp by making flash cards and learning recipes by heart. I asked myself questions all the time “Mayfield says so.
Each contestant on MasterChef is given a look that has been chosen for them.
Have you ever noticed that each contestant seems to have a closet full of the same kind of clothes? Like all camouflage shirts for the hunter or all lace dresses and cowboy boots for the girl next door? These contestants don’t have magically matching outfits or a closet full of the same shirt, as you might expect.
The costume department for MasterChef gives them clothes that fit their personalities and tells them what to wear for each episode. The people who do the clothes and makeup for MasterChef are, after all, trying to make a particular character. Most of the time, it’s done so well that you hardly notice.
Elise Mayfield, a contestant from Season 5, told AV Club, “You are in the outfit you were told to wear, and you go to wardrobe, hair, and makeup.” If you pay close attention, you might see small changes in clothes as the episode continues. When cooking, cooks usually wear shoes that are sturdy and comfortable. When it’s time for the big judging scenes, they change into more excellent shoes and high heels that match their outfits. Even though people who want to be on MasterChef may be working hard in the kitchen, they still have to look suitable for TV.
Rules are enforced on the set of MasterChef.
If you’ve ever been on the set of a TV show, whether it’s a reality show or one that’s made up, you know that what you see on camera is only the tip of the iceberg. Behind the camera, a small army of people makes it all happen, from camera operators to makeup artists to the people who set up craft services.
Even from your couch, you can see that the MasterChef set is vast and brutal. It has a full dining room, a small grocery store, and a kitchen 24 cooks can use simultaneously. There is also a viewing balcony. You don’t see the rest of the stage and the people working behind the camera.
How can three judges keep track of everything happening in the middle of all that chaos? They have help, though. Christina Tosi, a chef, and judge told us a little about how it works. “A group in charge of standards and practices watches the contestants’ every move. Everyone has the same advantages, and we want them all to use them in the same way. “In an interview with Lucky Peach, Tosi said. So you can be sure no one is sneaking in a few extra minutes of cooking time. Tosi also says that the judges give everyone the same amount of help. She says, “We want everyone to do well.”
The judges record everything the MasterChef contestants do and say.
In a kitchen this big, you might not even be able to hear what the person next to you is saying, let alone what the judges who are watching are saying to each other. When pots and pans are being moved around on the stovetops, stand mixers are whirring, and trays are going in, and out of the oven, the noise level in the kitchen can be pretty loud.
Even with everything going on, every word the contestants say is still written down (via Delish). Each cook’s small microphones can pick up even the quietest whispers, and cameras record everything from every angle.
With so much audio and video to go through, the production crew has a tremendous amount of material to deal with for each episode. The microphones are attached to the cooks’ aprons and record conversations between contestants, people talking to themselves while cooking, and hopefully, even a few dramatic sound bites to make an episode especially exciting. Still, it must feel like Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984 is watching the contestants.
MasterChef contestants are taught what to cook before the competition
In season 8, three contestants make a chocolate soufflé in a pressure cooker to keep their spot on the show. Chocolate soufflés are fussy and fragile, leaving little room for mistakes. How, then, did all three contestants, one of whom said he didn’t know anything about pastry, make perfect soufflés and not get kicked off?
“The answer is that they teach us,” writes MasterChef season 5 contestant Elizabeth Cauvel. “Every weekend, we’d practice three to four dishes or techniques. We learned how to cook a steak, frost a layer cake, put together a croquembouche, and fry shrimp that had been dipped in tempura batter. I thought it was the closest I’d ever get to cooking school, so I put my all into every lesson.”
Cauvel says that while the contestants were being filmed Monday through Friday, they could take cooking classes on the weekends. They weren’t required to take these classes, but since they taught techniques that would be used in upcoming challenges, it was probably hard for them to say no. People who paid attention in class often did better on the show than those who didn’t. So, in the end, it doesn’t matter if someone can’t cook everything. It’s more about who can remember and follow the recipe the best.
MasterChef hopefuls can’t talk to anyone outside of the show.
Many of us find it hard to go a whole day without social media, let alone for more extended periods without our phones. But if you want to be on reality TV, you’ll have to learn how to do without. When you think about it, it makes sense. Of course, contestants can’t talk about who made the cut or what they cooked before the show airs.
This means that the contestants are kept in the dark from the moment they step on set. Before each cook comes to work, someone from the production crew takes their phone and holds it for the whole time they are on set. When they aren’t filming, the contestants can talk to their families, but they can’t talk about the filming or post about where they are on social media.
Being so isolated in such a stressful place is challenging for many cast members, especially when they return to the real world after their time on the set. Elise Mayfield, a contestant from Season 5, told AV Club that when she left the group, “the real world just came flooding back to me.” “It was scary because I had been alone for so long, and when I got my phone back, I was shocked to see that I had a thousand emails to read,”
When the cameras stop rolling, no food goes to waste.
When you think about how much food everyone uses to make their signature dishes, you might wonder where it all goes. Gordon Ramsay and the other judges can’t eat every bite of every word served to them, right? And what happened to the food that wasn’t used? It doesn’t end up in the trash. Don’t worry; it won’t all be wasted. The cast and crew eat any of the cooked food that doesn’t make it to be judged and filmed.
After all, why would you go out to lunch when you already have a well-made meal waiting for you?
“The people working on the movie eat all the food that is cooked. A lot of them bring their own knives and forks “Gregg Wallace, the host of MasterChef, tells The Sun (via The Sun):
What about all the food that doesn’t get eaten? Wallace says, “The raw food is given to the young people on the crew. These talented young people are just starting out in their careers and don’t always make a lot of money.” Waste not, want not, which is a good thing. Some crew may even go home to cook their dishes inspired by MasterChef.
[…] season of the show that combines the backstabbing of Big Brother with the cooking competitions of MasterChef, but they will have to wait for […]
[…] first course is Steak Tartare, a raw Scottona fillet of beef mixed with seasonings such as Dijon mustard, capers, egg yolk, […]