MasterChef (U.S. TV series)

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MasterChef Logo & Wordmark.svg
Genre Cookery
Created by Franc Roddam
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 9
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–)
Original network Fox
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
720p (HDTV)
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
Original release July 27, 2010 (2010-07-27) – present
Related shows MasterChef Junior
External links

MasterChef is an American competitive cooking reality show based on the original British series of the same name, open to amateur and home chefs.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] From Season 6-8, Christina Tosi replaced Bastianich as a judge.[4] The series was renewed for an eighth season which premiered on May 31, 2017.[5] In Season 8, chef Aarón Sanchez joined as the new judge.[6] The series has been renewed for a ninth season, which is scheduled to premiere on May 30, 2018 with Ramsay, Sanchez, and Bastianich as the judges.[7]


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 (later replaced by Aarón Sanchez) 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.

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. Starting from season 7 the top 40 home cooks battle it out it out into group of two or four where they will cook steak to scallops to cupcakes and 1 or two of them move on into the top 20. There was no last-chance-cook off.

Subsequently, the formal competition begins typically following a 4-event cycle that takes place over 2-4 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 5-6, 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. In season 7 the judges announce to the top 4 that 3 home cooks will be in the finale and they split into two teams for a team challenge. The losing team will face a pressure test where one will move on into the finale and one will go home. Starting from season 8 the top four home cooks compete in a series of 3 skills test in each one home cook moves on until 3 home cooks have gone into the finale and 1 home cook goes home. The final 2 or 3 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,starting from season 7 they get to be a celebrity guest on the Masterchef Cruise, 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,[8] which started with a 2-night premiere on June 6, 2011.

On October 6, 2011, MasterChef was renewed for a third season, which started with a 2-night premiere on June 4, 2012, following Hell's Kitchen.[9][10]

On July 23, 2012, MasterChef was renewed for a fourth season,[11][12] which premiered on May 22, 2013, in its new Wednesday at 8:00 PM ET/PT timeslot.[13]

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.[14]

Series overview[edit]


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[3] 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
Aarón Sanchez[6]
9 May 30, 2018 TBA 24 TBA TBA Joe Bastianich
  1. ^ The guest judges rotated between Sanchez, Wolfgang Puck, Edward Lee, Kevin Sbraga, Richard Blais, and Daniel Boulud


MasterChef Celebrity Showdown (aired January 18, 2016)[15]

MasterChef Celebrity Showdown (aired January 2, 2017)[16]


Season Time slot (ET) Episodes Premiered Ended TV season Season averages
Date Premiere viewers
Date Finale viewers
Viewers (millions) 18-49 rating
1 Tuesday 9:00pm
Wednesday 8:00pm
July 27, 2010
September 15, 2010
4.07 2010
2 Monday 8:00pm
Tuesday 8:00pm
June 6, 2011
August 16, 2011
6.04 2011
3 Monday 9:00pm
Tuesday 9:00pm
June 4, 2012
September 10, 2012
6.43 2012
4 Wednesday 9:00pm 25
May 22, 2013
September 11, 2013
6.31[17] 2013 5.59[17] 2.3[17]
5 Monday 8:00pm 19
May 26, 2014
September 15, 2014
5.56[18] 2014 5.43[18] 1.9[18]
6 Wednesday 8:00pm 20
May 20, 2015
September 16, 2015
4.79[19] 2015 4.61[19] 1.5
7 19
June 1, 2016
September 14, 2016
4.36[21] 2016
8 21
May 31, 2017
September 20, 2017
3.95[23] 2017
May 30, 2018
TBA 2018



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[24] the contestants' back stories were "blown up," which referred to their dramatization.[24] 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."[24] The Globe and Mail said "the contrived sentimentality of it is, frankly, vomitous" referring to the emotion in contestants' reactions.[24]

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.[25][26] 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.[25][26]

In February, 2018, Salon published an article, I Am A MasterChef Survivor" [27] by former contestant Jessie Glenn outlining the abusive practices MasterChef used with contestants, provoking reactions from many in the food industry including New Yorker food correspondent, Helen Rosen [28].

International broadcasting[edit]

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 all other editions 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 and Singapore through cable and satellite providers via channels like Star World(for Filipino viewers) and Fox Life(for Singaporean viewers).

Earlier American adaptation[edit]

West 175 Productions[29] 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fox orders 'Idol'-style cooking competition". 
  2. ^ "Master chief USA Teaser". TV June 21, 2010. Retrieved June 21, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Graham Elliot Leaving 'MasterChef' Franchise". Retrieved February 1, 2016. 
  4. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 13, 2015). "'MasterChef Junior' Renewed For Season 4, Christina Tosi Joins As New Judge". Retrieved November 13, 2015. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "Chef Aarón Sánchez Joins the MasterChef Judges' Panel". Parade. February 17, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2017. 
  7. ^ "FOX Announces Summer Premiere Dates". The Futon Critic. March 20, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018. 
  8. ^ "Renewed: MasterChef USA". TV September 8, 2010. Retrieved September 8, 2010. 
  9. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (March 28, 2012). "Premiere Dates Announced for 'So You Think You Can Dance', 'Hell's Kitchen', 'MasterChef' and 'Hotel Hell'". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 29, 2013. 
  10. ^ Official website
  11. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 23, 2012). "Fox's 'MasterChef' Renewed For Season 4". Deadline. Retrieved September 29, 2013. 
  12. ^ Fienberg, Daniel (July 23, 2012). "FOX Renews MasterChef for Fourth Season". Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (February 28, 2013). "FOX Announces Finale Dates for 'Bones', 'The Following', 'New Girl' & More + Summer Premiere Dates Including 'So You Think You Can Dance'". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 1, 2013. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Maglio, Tony (December 18, 2015). "Fox to air 'MasterChef Celebrity Showdown' in January". TheWrap. Retrieved July 6, 2016. 
  16. ^ "An All-New "MasterChef Celebrity Showdown" Airs Monday, January 2, On Fox". Fox. Retrieved January 4, 2017. 
  17. ^ a b c d "MasterChef: Summer 2013 Ratings". TV Series Finale. September 13, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b c d "MasterChef: Season Five Ratings". TV Series Finale. September 16, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015. 
  19. ^ a b c "MasterChef: Season Six Ratings". TV Series Finale. September 17, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015. 
  20. ^ Porter, Rick (June 2, 2016). "Wednesday final ratings: 'MasterChef' premiere adjusts up, 'Wayward Pines' adjusts down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved June 2, 2016. 
  21. ^ Porter, Rick (September 15, 2016). "Wednesday final ratings: 'America's Got Talent,' 'Big Brother adjust up, 'Blindspot' adjusts down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  22. ^ Porter, Rick (June 2, 2017). "Masterchef' adjusts up, 'F Word, 'Little Big Shots' and 'Carmichael Show' adjust down: Wednesday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved June 2, 2017. 
  23. ^ Porter, Rick (September 21, 2017). "America's Got Talent,' 'Big Brother,' 'Masterchef' ajdust up, 'The Good Place' and 'Salvation' adjust down: Wednesday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 21, 2017. 
  24. ^ a b c d "MasterChef USA: reviews". TV Retrieved July 29, 2010. 
  25. ^ a b "Fox's MasterChef faked crowd shot". June 22, 2011. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  26. ^ a b "Busted! Fox's 'MasterChef' faked crowd scene". Inside TV. June 22, 2011. Archived from the original on June 24, 2011. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  27. ^ Glenn, J. 2018. "I am a 'Masterchef' Survivor". Salon, retrieved Feb 22, 2018.
  28. ^
  29. ^ "West 175 Productions, producers of the original MasterChef USA". 

External links[edit]