Masterchef Contestants Are Given Cooking Lessons, and 20 Other Secrets About The Franchise
21 MasterChef Secrets You Didn't Know
The MasterChef franchise continues to lead the way in cooking up the passion for reality show cooking competitions. Not just here in the States, but in the UK (where it originated), Italy, Australia, India, and in numerous adaptations of the show internationally. With chef Gordon Ramsay bringing the heat as host and judge here in the US, along with chef Graham Elliot and restauranteur Joe Bastianich (although pastry chef and Momofuku Milk Bar owner Christina Tosi will soon be taking over his duties as judge), all signs point to America’s favorite kitchen (as the show’s opening credits boastfully proclaims) keeping it real hot in the kitchen for some time.
It’s no secret that Ramsay is the reason why so many remain enamored with MasterChef (and now with the cute as all get-out MasterChef Junior). Majoring in sh*t-talk and excelling at dropping F-bombs like buttermilk biscuits at aspiring chefs in all of his restaurants and reality show kitchens, Ramsay had fans quivering in fear over the prospect of him possibly spewing off one of his expletive-driven rants at (clutch the pearls, no!) one of the kiddie cooks. By Ramsay’s account, he absconded without uttering a one. But don’t ya just love kids and their honesty? A couple of the small-fry chefs checked the big, bad chef on that false claim real fast.
It makes you wonder what other goodies and juicy tidbits are floating around in the cavernous kitchens of MasterChef, doesn’t it? With as many kitchens as they have around the world, one would expect to find deliciously dark and juicy secrets hovering around every corner, just waiting to be discovered and shared with the world. Well, they were, uh, maybe not so dark, but all of them were very juicy. Here are 21 secrets about the MasterChef franchise that you had no idea were going on. — until now.
1. Cooking contestants are given cooking classes. What? You don’t know how to make a souffle or bake a custard, you say? No worries…there’s a cooking class for that. A former contestant (obviously not the winner) called out Ramsay and crew a little over a year ago for cooking up lies, by making participants take cooking classes to make their food look oh-so-purty. MasterChef runner-up from season 3, Josh Marks (RIP) commented on the classes as well. Everyone should know at this stage of the game that there’s virtually no reality in reality shows. Cooking shows are certainly no exception. Even so, we as the viewing public like to be fooled and feel like the challenges on MasterChef that the home cooks face are authentic and relatable, and we feel the stress and anxiety that each contestant is going through during every stolen moment of the time clock. Even though many of the dishes that they seem to whip up off the tops of their heads are strikingly gorgeous and appear restaurant ready already, don’t they? Hmmm….
2. Kids handle the stress of losing better than the grown-ups. Kids are resilient. They’re able to bounce back like nobody’s business. This was totally the case with the kids on the set of MasterChef Junior. The psychological trauma that can come along with losing a competition is taken seriously whether it’s a child or an adult. But according to Robin Ashbrook, MasterChef and MasterChef Junior executive producer, the youngin’s handle the loses so much better than the big kids. With some of the adults seeming to need a therapist after being asked to leave their precious aprons on their station before they get the boot. What’s that saying…the bigger they are, the harder they fall in the kitchen?
3. Changing your job is a given. If you were a teacher before you entered and won MasterChef Australia, you can forget about going back to it. Or your job as a lawyer. Or as the IT guy, er … person. After five seasons of the show, not one winner has returned to their old grind. In fact, 70 percent of finalists choose a career in food after competing on the show. So if you’ve been thinking about a career change, appearing on MasterChef is the place to get ‘er done.
4. Love was on the menu on the UK’s Celebrity MasterChef. Her cooking must have been off the chain. English actress and celebrity contestant Lisa Faulkner (who is also a chef) won Celebrity MasterChef in 2010 and apparently the heart of MasterChef judge John Torode. Remaining “friends” after the competition, both chefs eventually hooked up after going through breakups and eventually divorcing their respective partners. The love hasn’t burned off yet by any means, with both recently being seen out together at a red carpet event.
5. MasterChef Logan Guleff always wears a bowtie. Who can forget little Guleff, winner of season 2 of MasterChef Junior? Ramsay certainly seemed to take a shine to him. And surely no one’s forgotten about the cute little bow ties that he would sport in every episode. He’s been wearing bow ties since his godmother’s wedding and he hasn’t looked back. Well…maybe just for his mom to come over and tie them for him, since he doesn’t know how to tie the fancy schmancy bow himself.
6. MasterChef Australia contestants get a little financial help via a stipend. A little extra cash is a good thing for anybody. But especially when you’re a MasterChef contestant in Australia, locked away not only from prying eyes, but from those pesky financial responsibilities left behind once you signed on to cook your butt off for several months. The word is that these Aussie chef wannabees get an allowance of at least $500 to cover their expenses each week. Not a bad chunk of cheddar for anyone right there while working on your side hustle.
7. FOX wasn’t so hot on taking on MasterChef Junior. Knowing now that more than 40 countries would have their own versions of MasterChef in some way, shape, or form, you would think that FOX would have quickly jumped on board to add MasterChef Junior to the lineup. Not so: executive producers Adeline Ramage Rooney and Robin Ashbrook worked hard to get the powers-that-be at FOX to see the light, still haunted by the lingering aftertaste of CBS’s Kid Nation, which was canceled due to rumors of child abuse and labor law violations. But execs eventually caved, thankfully, because MasterChef Junior is winning for FOX with the ratings. Because let’s face it … the show is freakin’ adorable. Of course, the biggest secret this secret may stir up is why the heck didn’t Top Chef Junior ever air on Bravo? Curious …
8. Don’t worry if you see kids crying on MasterChef Junior, because Ramsay says it’s “healthy.” Is it really a surprise to see Ramsay play psychologist on the side to kids who are more than likely crying over something that he said or did to them? Maybe not. But Ramsay recently revealed on a panel that he’s totally OK with kiddos crying on MasterChef Junior because it’s better than the kids “bottling it up.” “No one walks down the corridors with insecurities,” Ramsay said during a recent TCA panel. “I think crying is healthy. I cried before Christmas, watching my 30-year-old daughter get upset over her scrambled eggs.” He is a father after all, isn’t he? So perhaps he’s just giving all of us a little fatherly advice. Or perhaps he’s actually prepping us because there’s sure to be more kiddos crying their little eyes out in cooking competitions to come.
9. Australian contestant cracked like eggs for the camera. Australian MasterChef contestant Jules Allen told it all in the documentary, Australian Story: Out Of The Kitchen, conveying how the stress of the show left her a “basket case” and that she was “encouraged to sort of crack open” for the cameras, which caused her to suffer from nightmares. To be fair, Allen’s commentary is aimed at all reality shows. On the bright side, Allen has used her fame from MasterChef to combine her job as a social worker (she’s personally fostered 29 children) with her love of food, working on a project with Hugh Jackman’s wife, Deborra-Lee Furness.
10. The kiddos got mad knife skillz, way better than the adults. Some people complain about working with kids. Not so on the set of MasterChef Junior. Culinary producer Sandee Birdsong, in an interview with Sonia Saraiya from Salon, not only drove home how lovely the children were to work with, but that the kids barely even cut themselves. The adults, on the other hand, well…just make sure plenty of Band-Aids are always on set for them, ok?
11. In fact, producer Sandee Birdsong was an early contestant on Top Chef. Birdsong ain’t got no worries, even though she was the second aspiring chef cut from season 3 of Top Chef set in Miami. That’s because she landed a job as culinary producer for MasterChef. Being forced to ride it out the rest of the way with everyone else for the rest of the ride until a winner is chosen (because you can’t go home yet, silly), Birdsong had an epiphany about what she truly wanted to do. And now she’s doing it.
12. Jessie Lusiak From MasterChef season 4 sliced off a chunk of her finger. What do you get when you mix a mandolin, potatoes, and the cut-off finger tip of MasterChef contestant during a Glee team challenge? A bloody mess and a gross pic of a tip of a chopped off finger stuck in your head for waaay too long. Yikes.
13. Kathy Prieto’s internship with Ramsay only lasted a day. Remember that episode when Prieto got the ax from the MasterChef kitchen, but then Ramsay offered her an internship at one of his New York restaurants? Well, Prieto posted on Twitter that what it was supposed to be wasn’t, and whatever it was, it only lasted for one day. What happened and why is not exactly clear, but surely this had to be a great disappointment for the Bronx native. Prieto does have a Facebook page for her catering company, Fire’s Flaming Kitchen. But for the time being, it looks like her flame may be burning a little low, if not out.
14. The winner of MasterChef Brazil owes her win to her dad. Dads are always there for their little girls — especially when you need to open a jar so that they can win on MasterChef Brazil. The contestant needed a jar of ingredients opened so that she could finish making her dish. Unable to do it, she tossed the jar to her dad who was in the audience; he got it open, and the rest is history. Thanks, Dad!
15. There was a kid actor on the first season of MasterChef Junior. It wouldn’t be a stretch at all to think that some of the kiddie chefs on MasterChef Junior have agents and are really kid actors. It’s certainly the case for Troy Glass, contestant on the first season of the show. The kid can boast about being on Modern Family, True Blood, and the YouTube web series “Kids React.” Throw in a handful of commercials and movies, too. Heck, he even has his own IMDb page. If he had to choose, Troy said that he would pick being a chef. His exposure on MasterChef Junior should lead to more opportunities (culinary and acting) for this very talented kid.
16. One contestant on MasterChef Junior South Africa used her spotlight for good. Viewers of MasterChef in South Africa were thrilled to see domestic worker and competitor Siphokazi Mdlankomo become a fan favorite. In a place where domestic workers are expected to be seen and not heard, Mdlankomo challenged the notion of how domestic workers are perceived and treated (low wages, abuse, and exploitaiton are high on the menu for domestic workers). Sometimes it only takes the power of one to change people’s minds, and Mdlankomo has used her new-found celebrity from MasterChef in an attempt to be that one.
17. MasterChef dishes get cold, a lot. In an interview with the Toronto Star (in which he warned untalented people to not bother applying) “Demon Chef” Alvin Leung discussed some of the logistics of making MasterChef Canada. It must be true across the board for many (if not all) of the MasterChef shows in production to be sure: judges don’t always get to taste everyone’s food when it’s hot. The food gets cold due to the number of dishes that have to be tasted. Leung said because of this, sometimes all it takes is a look. Because seeing is believing, and if it looks good, it must taste good. So far this hasn’t been reported as being a problem or as being a tad bit unfair from any of the contestants — yet.
18. MasterChef New Zealand didn’t survive the chopping block. Hammers rule and cooks drool. Despite high ratings, MasterChef in New Zealand was chopped in favor of a DIY program about home renovation. Despite being surprised about the cancelation, one of the judges wasn’t to crushed over losing his gig. Simon Gault had a secret (more like bombshell) of his own to drop: he had planned on leaving the show anyway due to his weight and health concerns.
19. Australian MasterChef Judge Says That The Italian Judges Are The Most Harsh. Does Bastianich know about this? Matt Preston, Australian MasterChef judge, said he believes that he’s a far nicer critic than his Italian counterparts after recently spending some time in Italy. In fact, he referred to the Italian judges as brutal. Of course, Preston is probably most famous for throwing a contestant’s plate of food to the ground and calling it “disgusting.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
20. Speaking of Bastianich — he’s not entirely done with MasterChef. Sure, he’s hanging up his judging hat for the U.S. version of the show, but Bastianich will still be judging MasterChef Italia for some time to come. In fact, he said he hopes to launch a TV career in Italy that doesn’t even have anything to do with food. So far, it’s working: he’s already in production for season 2 a show called On The Road.
21. The first-ever MasterChef Asia is happening! Filming for the latest entry into the MasterChef franchise will take place in Singapore on April 1. Auditions are still open for aspiring chefs wishing to send in their audition tapes until March 5. No word yet on who the three judges will be.
Tammi Sparks is captivated by everyone and everything that is food – the highbrow, the lowbrow, and every little juicy brow in between. Keep up with her passionate love affair with food by checking out her blog, Crepes and Watermelon, ‘like’ her blog fan page on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter @TRSOne_.
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