MasterChef (U.S. TV series)
|Created by||Franc Roddam|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||157|
|Running time||42 minutes|
|Production company(s)||One Potato Two Potato
Reveille Productions (2010–2012)
Shine America (2012–2014)
Endemol Shine North America (2015–)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||July 27, 2010– present|
MasterChef is an American competitive cooking reality show based on the original British series of the same name, open to amateur and home chefs. Produced by Shine America and One Potato Two Potato, it debuted on July 27, 2010 on the Fox network, following the professional cooking competition series, Hell's Kitchen.
For the first 5 seasons, the series starred chefs Gordon Ramsay (the co-creator of the series and Hell's Kitchen), Graham Elliot and restaurateur Joe Bastianich. For Season 6, Christina Tosi replaced Bastianich as a judge. The series was renewed for an eighth season which premiered on May 31, 2017. In Season 8, chef Aarón Sanchez joined as the new judge. The series has been renewed for a ninth season tentatively scheduled for summer 2018.
MasterChef is based on the British BBC series MasterChef. Chef, TV personality and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay together with restaurateur and vineyard owner Joe Bastianich (later replaced by pastry chef Christina Tosi) and chef Graham Elliot were the original judges in the US version of MasterChef. The competition takes place in the MasterChef warehouse which includes a large kitchen area with several cooking stations which is overlooked by a balcony, a well-stocked pantry, a freezer/fridge area and a fine-dining restaurant/seating area used for certain challenges.
In the first four seasons, amateur chefs were initially selected through nationwide auditions, selecting a total of 100 competitors to the start of the televised competition. In the preliminary rounds, each of these had an opportunity to prepare a signature dish for the trio of judges. They were given a limited amount of time to prep their dish, and then 5 minutes before the judges to complete the cooking and assembly of the dish, during which the judges ask about their background. The 3 judges taste the dish, and vote "yes" or "no" to keeping the chef in the competition; 2 "yes" votes are required for the chef to move on and receive a MasterChef apron, while those who fail to do so leave the competition.
At least one round was then used to trim the number of remaining chefs to about sixteen to eighteen. One type of challenge has the chefs performing a routine task like dicing onions, during which the judges will observe their technique. Judges can advance a chef to the next round or eliminate them at any time during the challenge by taking their apron. A second type of challenge is to have the chefs invent a new dish around a staple ingredient or theme, with the judges advancing or eliminating players based on the taste of their dishes.
In Season 5, auditions were dropped, and thirty competitors were challenged directly in the MasterChef kitchen to get an apron. In Season 6, twenty semi-finalists were surprised when they were told they had to go into head-to-head competition with another competitor cooking a dish with the same main ingredient; the winner received an apron. There was then a final last-chance cook-off where each judge selected 2 non-winners to compete for the final 2 aprons.
Subsequently, the formal competition begins typically following a 4-event cycle that takes place over 2 episodes, with one chef eliminated after the second and fourth event. The events typically are:
- Mystery Box: Cooks are all given a box with the same ingredients and must use only those ingredients to create a dish within a fixed amount of time. The judges will select 3 dishes based on visual appearance and technique alone to taste, and from these 3 select one winner who will gain an advantage in the elimination test.
- Elimination Test: The judges take the mystery box winner to the pantry, privately explain the theme of the elimination test, and tell of at least one advantage. The most typical one is selecting the specific ingredient to use or dish to recreate, but can also include automatic advancement to the next round, assigning certain ingredients to specific chefs, saving competitors, or being allowed to assign pairs in "tag-team challenges". The rest of the chefs are then informed and given 5 minutes to collect any ingredients from the pantry they need and a fixed amount of time to complete the dish. Judges evaluate all dishes based on taste and visual appeal. The cooks with the top 2 dishes become captains in the following team challenge. The judges nominate at least 2 cooks for elimination and criticize them before telling one to place their apron on their station and "leave the MasterChef kitchen", eliminating them.
- Team Challenge: The cooks are taken to an off-site location and are split into 2 teams by the team captains (typically through a schoolyard pick), with the cook with the best dish in the elimination test getting first pick. The teams will typically have to prepare a meal for a number of diners in a limited amount of time or engage in a "restaurant takeover" taking the place of the staff of a particular restaurant. Diners taste both meals and vote for their favourite, causing a team to forfeit a vote if a diner does not end receiving their meal. The winning team advances, while the losing team will participate in the pressure test upon returning to the MasterChef kitchen.
- Pressure Test: The losing team members compete against each other to make a standard dish within a very limited amount of time that requires a great degree of cooking finesse. Not all of the losing team members may have to participate, upon receiving exemption from either the judges or the team captain. The team challenge winners and those exempt watch the test from the balcony. Each dish is judged on taste, visual appeal and technique, and the losing chef is eliminated.
This cycle continues until only 4 chefs remain, upon which the judges eliminate 2 chefs to select the final 2 competitors. In Season 1, 2 cooks would face off against each other to cook three dishes, with the one cooking the better dishes advancing to the finale. However, since Season 2, the 4 cooks remaining split into two teams of two. The best team automatically advances to the top 3, with the losing team facing off against each other. In the top 3, from Season 2 to 4, the winner of the mystery box gets first choice in choosing one of 3 ingredients, while the second best dish gets second choice, and the loser gets whatever is remaining. The 2 best dishes advance to the finale. From Season 5, the top 3 individually face each other to serve VIPs, and while the winner moves to the finale, the remaining 2 compete in a final pressure test for a spot in the finale. The final 2 face off in preparing a complete three course menu in a fixed amount of time (2 hours overall in the first 3 seasons, one hour per dish since Season 4) in which the judges evaluate both the individual dishes and the overall meal's composition. The judges then select the winner of MasterChef, who wins $250,000, their own cookbook and a MasterChef trophy.
Season 1 aired as a summer series initially on Tuesday nights at 9:00 PM ET/PT, debuting on July 27, 2010; it later moved to Wednesday nights at 8:00 PM ET/PT on August 18.
On September 7, 2010, MasterChef was renewed for a second season, which started with a 2-night premiere on June 6, 2011.
On May 10, 2013, Fox renewed MasterChef for an additional 2 seasons, which will extend the show to at least 6 seasons.
On July 22, 2015, Fox renewed MasterChef for a seventh season.
|Season||Premiere Date||Finale Date||No. of Finalists||Winner||Runner(s)-up||Judge 1||Judge 2||Judge 3|
|1||July 27, 2010||September 15, 2010||14||Whitney Miller||David Miller||Gordon Ramsay||Graham Elliot||Joe Bastianich|
|2||June 6, 2011||August 16, 2011||18||Jennifer Behm||Adrien Nieto|
|3||June 4, 2012||September 10, 2012||Christine Hà||Joshua Marks†|
|4||May 22, 2013||September 11, 2013||19||Luca Manfé||Natasha Crnjac|
|5||May 26, 2014||September 15, 2014||22||Courtney Lapresi||Elizabeth Cauvel|
|6||May 20, 2015||September 16, 2015||Claudia Sandoval||Derrick Peltz||Christina Tosi|
|7||June 1, 2016||September 14, 2016||20||Shaun O'Neale||David Williams
& Brandi Mudd
|Guest judges [a]|
|8||May 31, 2017||September 20, 2017||Dino Angelo Luciano||Eboni Henry
& Jason Wang
MasterChef Celebrity Showdown (aired January 18, 2016)
- Ta'Rhonda Jones vs Kaitlin Doubleday from Empire (Mystery Box Challenge)
- Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker vs Terry Crews and Rebecca Crews (Cupcake Tag Team Challenge)
- Gigi Hadid vs Devon Windsor (Supermodel Signature Dish Face-off)
- Christine Hà, Luca Manfé, and Claudia Sandoval vs Addison Osta Smith, Zac Kara, and Amaya Baéz (Champions vs Juniors)
MasterChef Celebrity Showdown (aired January 2, 2017)
- Cheryl Hines vs Kal Penn (Mystery Box Challenge)
- Trai Byers and Grace Gealey vs NeNe and Gregg Leakes (Tag Team Challenge)
- Ronde Barber and Tiki Barber vs. Joel Madden and Benji Madden (Pastry Challenge)
- Anthony Anderson and Chef Gordon Ramsay vs. Jordana Brewster and Chef Christina Tosi (Mystery Box Team Challenge)
|Season||Time slot (ET)||Episodes||Premiered||Ended||TV season||Season averages|
|Viewers (millions)||18-49 rating|
The premiere episode received mixed reviews from major newspapers and online review websites, with reviews commenting that it was entertaining, but criticized the emotional aspect. The Los Angeles Times claimed the contestants' back stories were "blown up," which referred to their dramatization. A Reuters reviewer explained the show "manages to be hugely entertaining and involving thanks mainly to the judges’ personalities and the ability of the producers to spot emotionally charged stories." The Globe and Mail said "the contrived sentimentality of it is, frankly, vomitous" referring to the emotion in contestants' reactions.
The program also attracted negative attention in Season 2 when Agence France-Presse journalist Alex Ogle discovered that the producers doctored a crowd scene said to be of "thousands upon thousands lined up" to audition for the program. In post-production, portions of the scene were replicated so as to make the crowd look larger than it actually was, as evidenced by multiple appearances by especially noticeable people in the scene.
Following the success of the first Italian season, Cielo broadcast the first 2 seasons of the show in 2012. In 2013, Sky Uno broadcast Season 3 and, shortly after the victory of Luca Manfè, Season 4, and also Seasons 5 and 6 as well, with reruns on Cielo.
In Canada, CTV broadcasts the program.
Cosmopolitan Television, in Spain, has broadcast all seasons of the show so far. STAR World India broadcasts the show in India and Sri Lanka.
From January 4, 2016, the show will air on W (formerly Watch) in the UK, starting with season 1.
From January 17, 2016, the show will air in France in a dubbed version on AB1 starting with season 1.
It is also aired in the Philippines through cable and satellite providers via Star World (FOXLife).
Earlier American adaptation
West 175 Productions produced an earlier American adaptation, MasterChef USA, broadcast on PBS from 2000 to 2001. That version was based directly from the BBC series and which lasted twenty-eight episodes over 2 seasons. It was hosted by British chef Gary Rhodes.
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- "West 175 Productions, producers of the original MasterChef USA".
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