MasterChef Wiki

MasterChef is an American competitive cooking reality TV show based on the MasterChef 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 five seasons, the series starred celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay (the co-creator of the series and Hell's Kitchen), Graham Elliot and restaurateur Joe Bastianich. From Seasons 6–8, pastry chef Christina Tosi temporarily replaced Bastianich. On Season 7, Elliot departed as a judge, and in place of a third judge, there were a series of guest judges, one of which was Aarón Sánchez. Since Season 8, Sanchez joined as a regular judge. In Season 9, Bastianich returned as a regular judge, replacing Tosi. On September 19, 2018, it was announced that the series had been renewed for a tenth season, which premiered on May 29, 2019 with Ramsay, Sanchez, and Bastianich returning as judges.

As of 2021, an eleventh season of 18 episodes is in production, with Ramsay, Sanchez, and Bastianich all returning as judges.


MasterChef is based on the British series MasterChef. It was created by celebrity chef, TV personality and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay. The competition takes place in the MasterChef soundstage studio located in Burbank, Los Angeles which includes a large kitchen area with several cooking workstations which is overlooked by a balcony with furniture, a well-stocked pantry, a freezer/fridge area and a fine-dining restaurant/seating dining area dining room used for certain challenges.

While the particular format of the season has slightly varied over the years, the following challenges have all been regularly featured:

  • Skills Test: Cooks are challenged to perform a list of common cooking techniques or styles, or to replicate a particular cooking method of a dish (i.e. steaks done to an exact wellness). This type of test is also sometimes used as an Elimination Test.
  • Mystery Box: Cooks are all given a "mystery" box with the same ingredients and/or equipment utensils and must use only those ingredients to create a dish within a fixed amount of time. The judges will select three dishes based on visual appearance and technique alone to taste, and from these three select one winner who usually gains an advantage of some type in the upcoming elimination challenge/test.
  • Elimination Test: Shortly after the challenge is explained, judges evaluate all dishes based on taste and visual appeal. The judges nominate the worst dishes for elimination and criticize them before eliminating at least one contestant.
  • Field/Team Challenge: The cooks are split in two teams by either team captains or the judges. Both teams are split into two colors: Red and Blue. They often occur in a restaurant takeover or pop-up restaurant taking the place of the staff of a particular restaurant. Diners taste both meals and vote for their favorite. The winning team advances, while the losing team will participate in the fearsome, black apron-themed replication Pressure Test or face elimination based on the teams' performance.
  • Pressure Test: Another form of the Elimination Test, in which losing team members donned their black aprons and compete against each other for survival, replicating a restaurant quality, savory protein dish or baking desserts (sometimes replicate 3 dishes of the same type of food) within a very limited amount of time that requires a great degree of cooking finesse. Each dish is judged on taste, visual appeal and technique, and the losing chef is eliminated.

Each episode, the contestants participate in a quickfire Mystery Box challenge or Skills Test, followed by an Elimination Challenge. The winner of the quickfire Mystery Box Challenge is typically granted immunity from elimination, a prize, or another benefit for the following Elimination Challenge. The loser of the Elimination Challenge, as the name suggests, is eliminated from the competition. This format continues until two or three finalists remain. Each finalist is challenged to create a full-course meal; the chef with the best meal as determined by the judges is declared the "next MasterChef champion" of the season. Towards the end of the season, when only six cooks remain, the show moves them to a high end, fine dining Michelin-starred restaurant in the last field team challenge of the season to run a full dinner service for VIP guest diners.

In the first four seasons, the original S1-4 format comprised of a Skills Test/Mystery box quickfire round followed by the elimination test. There were immunity challenges in the 1st half of the episode then elimination challenges/tests in the 2nd part. The winner(s) of the elimination challenge would get an advantage in the field team challenge the next episode. It was arguably the same format for Seasons 5-9 but with changes.

In season 5, the Top 8 worked in pairs of two, then completed a three-part consecutive "Series of Pressure Tests".

In season 7, there were episodes that ended in a cliffhanger (the winner never got an advantage in the next episode type, new special challenge the next episode). Season 7 also introduced threesome finalists and featured a 3 person, three way finale for the first time in the show's history.

Once the competition reaches the finale, the number of contestants are whittled down down to three finalists, as seen in the Season 7, 8 and 9 three way finales (formerly two finalists in the first six seasons), the finalists will compete against each other in a three-course dinner cook-off in a ring-like arena, while their family members (joined by previously eliminated contestants), spectate and cheer them on. The 3 finalists join the judges in the private restaurant dining room for the judging and tasting of their dishes at the end of each round (1-hour course cookoff). All three courses of the menu are judged and an overall winner is crowned shortly after the finalists switch places with the judges and stand on their podium/stage. Since Season 4, Gordon sprays the winner with champagne as confetti rains down.

The winner of each season wins $250,000, a MasterChef trophy, and the title of MasterChef. Some seasons have also added other prizes such as a cookbook deal.


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,

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.

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

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.

Series overview[]


Season Episodes Premiere Date Finale Date No. of Contestants Winner Runner(s)-up Judge 1 Judge 2 Judge 3
1 13 July 27, 2010 September 15, 2010 14 Whitney Miller David Miller Gordon Ramsay Graham Elliot Joe Bastianich
2 20 June 6, 2011 August 16, 2011 18 Jennifer Behm Adrien Nieto
3 20 June 4, 2012 September 10, 2012 Christine Hà Josh Marks
4 25 May 22, 2013 September 11, 2013 19 Luca Manfe Natasha Crnjac
5 19 May 26, 2014 September 15, 2014 22 Courtney Lapresi Elizabeth Cauvel
6 20 May 20, 2015 September 16, 2015 Claudia Sandoval Derrick Peltz Christina Tosi
7 19 June 1, 2016 September 14, 2016 20 Shaun O'Neale Brandi Mudd & David Williams Guest judges (The guest judges rotated between Sanchez, Wolfgang Puck, Edward Lee, Kevin Sbraga, Richard Blais, and Daniel Boulud)
8 21 May 31, 2017 September 20, 2017 Dino Angelo Luciano Eboni Henry
& Jason Wang
Aarón Sanchez
9 23 May 30, 2018 September 19, 2018 24 Gerron Hurt Ashley Mincey
& Cesar Cano
Joe Bastianich
10 25 May 29, 2019 September 18, 2019 20 Dorian Hunter Sarah Faherty
11 18 June 2, 2021 September 15, 2021 15 Kelsey Murphy Autumn Moretti & Suu Khin
12 20 May 25, 2022 September 14, 2022 20 Dara Yu Christian Green & Michael Silverstein
13 20 May 24, 2023 September 20, 2023 20 Grant Gillon Kennedy U & Jennifer Maune


Note: Bold indicates the winner(s) of the challenge.

MasterChef Celebrity Showdown (aired January 18, 2016)[1]

  • 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)[2]

  • 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)
  • Guest Judges: Season 7 Winner Shaun O'Neale and MasterChef Junior Season 5 contestants: Shayne Wells and Justise Mayberry.

MasterChef Celebrity Family Showdown (aired May 15, 2019 and May 22, 2019)[3]

  • Johnny Weir and his brother, Boz vs. Tara Lipinski and her husband, Todd (Fish Dish Showdown)
  • Lisa Vanderpump and her daughter, Pandora vs. Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and JWoww (Blind Taste Test)
  • Tori Spelling and her daughter, Stella vs. Jennie Garth and her daughter, Fiona (Home Fridge Swap Challenge)
  • Evander Holyfield and his daughter, Ebonne vs. Oscar De La Hoya and his daughter, Atiana (Keeping Up with Gordon Match)


Season Episodes Premiered Ended TV season Time slot (ET) Season averages (Live + SD)
Date Premiere viewers
Date Finale viewers
Viewers (millions) 18-49 rating
1 13 July 27, 2010 5.75[4] September 15, 2010 4.81[4] 2010 Tuesday 9:00pm (1-3)
Wednesday 8:00pm (4-13)
5.26[4] 2.3[4]
2 20 June 6, 2011 4.40[5] August 16, 2011 7.12[5] 2011 Monday 9:00 pm 5.27[5] 2.2[5]
Tuesday 9:00 pm 5.35[5] 2.2[5]
3 June 4, 2012 5.10[6] September 10, 2012 6.52[6] 2012 Monday 9:00 pm 5.84[6] 2.5[6]
Tuesday 9:00 pm 5.67[6] 2.4[6]
4 25 May 22, 2013 5.30[7] September 11, 2013 6.31[7] 2013 Wednesday 8:00 pm 5.63[7] 2.3[7]
5 19 May 26, 2014 4.26[8] September 15, 2014 5.56[8] 2014 Monday 8:00 pm 5.43[8] 1.9[8]
6 20 May 20, 2015 3.39[9] September 16, 2015 4.69[9] 2015 Wednesday 8:00 pm 4.56[9] 1.5[9]
7 19 June 1, 2016 3.81[10] September 14, 2016 4.36[10] 2016 4.03[10] 1.3[10]
8 21 May 31, 2017 3.67[11] September 20, 2017 4.14[11] 2017 3.62[11] 1.1[11]
9 23 May 30, 2018 3.52[12] September 19, 2018 3.56[13] 2018 3.52[12] 1.0[12]
10 25 May 29, 2019 3.14[14] September 18, 2019 3.17 2019 Wednesday 8:00pm (1-4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20-25)
Thursday 8:00pm (5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19)
3.06 0.8
11 18 June 2, 2021 2.55 September 15, 2021 2.53 2021 Wednesday

8:00 pm

2.51 0.6
12 20 May 25, 2022 1.75 September 14, 2022 2.53 2022 2.22 0.4
13 20 May 24, 2023 1.63 September 20, 2023 2.44 2023



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[15] the contestants' back stories were "blown up," which referred to their dramatization.[15] 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."[15] The Globe and Mail said "the contrived sentimentality of it is, frankly, vomitous" referring to the emotion in contestants' reactions.[15]

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.[16][17] 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.[16][17]

Earlier American adaptation[]

Main article: MasterChef USA

West 175 Productions[18] produced an earlier American adaptation, MasterChef USA, broadcast on PBS from 2000 to 2001. The series format was based directly on BBC's MasterChef and lasted 28 episodes over 2 seasons. It was hosted by British chef Gary Rhodes, who hosted the UK version of MasterChef in 2001.

See also[]

  • MasterChef Junior
  • MasterChef Celebrity/Family Showdown


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