The Rigorous Cooking Classes Behind MasterChef

Among the countless cooking competition shows on the air these days, "MasterChef" still manages to rise above the rest. The show was originally created in the U.K., where it ran from 1990 to 2001, before reemerging in 2005. The American version first aired in 2000 and pitted 27 non-professional home chefs against each other as they navigated a variety of challenges. Those who completed challenges with aplomb moved on to the next round of the competition, while those who were unsuccessful were eliminated.

Because the competition is so fierce, many viewers wonder what exactly goes on behind the scenes. The show is now on its 12th season and the current crop of judges is known for being luminaries in the culinary world. With iconic names like Gordon Ramsay, Aarón Sánchez, and Joe Bastianich overseeing the competition, contestants definitely have their work cut out for them. And while it's clear that those who do make the cut are completely devoted to their craft, the level of their commitment is truly surprising when considering just how much is expected from contestants during their time on "MasterChef." 

How MasterChef cultivates the next culinary super stars

Even ardent fans of "MasterChef" might be surprised by the secret inner workings of the wildly successful reality TV cooking competition. For instance, contestants are subjected to an arduous weekly schedule as they compete with other amateur chefs. Contestants are expected to prepare meals every single day of the week, with Sunday being the lone exception. It's usually on Sunday when those participating in the competition undergo cooking classes, which entail the same lofty standards as the show itself. Cooking classes are highly structured, which ensures up-and-coming chefs are fully aware of what will be expected from them upon entering the culinary world. Classes also cover other important topics, including sessions on advanced baking methods. Contestants are even privy to a wide selection of cookbooks, which are intended to inspire them in their culinary pursuits. 

"MasterChef" also imposed other stringent rules on participants, rules that hopefully make the competition far more exciting for viewers. While some of the rules are just good common sense, others might be a little surprising to fans. 

MasterChef is a recipe-free zone

As a show devoted to bringing amateur cooks up through the ranks, "MasterChef" stipulates that participants cannot earn a living cooking food for others. Contestants are also forbidden from using recipes while they participate in the competition, and instead are required to memorize ingredients, cooking times, and preparation techniques. Fortunately, the show takes it easy on its chefs by only requiring them to create a single dish at a time. The goal is to focus on the skills and talents of the competitors, and judges believe this can best be achieved by having them prepare one dish instead of two or more. While preparing multiple meals might be good for building suspense, it's not ideal for determining a person's culinary skills. 

And how exactly do the bigwigs are "MasterChef" ensure participants are following each and every rule? Through a crack team of officials, of course. This group monitors individual challenges to make certain that every participant adheres to the carefully laid-out rules. Doing so ensures that no one person has an advantage over another, which makes for a fair outcome for all involved. It's through these careful practices that the cooking competition show has managed to remain beloved by audiences over the course of 12 seasons.