The concept of MasterChef was first created in the UK and originally ran from 1990 to 2001. The concept was then revamped by Franc Roddam and the competitive cooking show was relaunched in 2005 in the UK. While the series was not shown in the UK for five years, other countries realized the potential for the series and began to create their own versions of the series. MasterChef USA was first aired in April 2000 and it is now in its tenth season. Throughout its history, the show has seen many changes. So, how has MasterChef USA evolved since season one?
Initially, MasterChef USA was run for two seasons in 2000 and 2001. The format remained the same for both seasons, with 27 amateur chefs competing in a range of cooking challenges and being eliminated until only the best remained. The winner was the recipient of a range of culinary-related prizes. The series was relaunched in 2010 simply titled as MasterChef, just like the UK version. However, the format differed both from the UK version and the former MasterChef USA. In fact, it was most similar to MasterChef Australia.
This format involves the competitors taking part in a cycle of four challenges, including the mystery box, elimination test, team challenge, and pressure test. This cycle covers between two and four episodes and someone is eliminated at the end of the elimination and pressure tests. This format has remained pretty much the same throughout seasons one to nine. The main difference between the seasons has been the line-up of judges. For the first five seasons, the judges included British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, American chef Graham Elliot, and restaurateur Joe Bastianich. Bastianich left at the end of season five and was replaced by pastry chef Christina Tosi between seasons six and eight.
Graham Elliot had also departed by season seven, leaving only Gordon Ramsay as an original judge. Instead of replacing him with a permanent judge, there was a series of guest judges. This was the biggest change in MasterChef so far. One of the guest judges that appeared during season seven was celebrity chef and restaurateur Aaron Sanchez, and he became a permanent third judge for season eight. Christina Tosi then left, with Bastianich returning for season nine of MasterChef.
Viewers who are tuning in to watch season 10 can expect some big changes, says Good Housekeeping. Season 10 was launched on May 29, 2019, and the judges returning for this season are Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Aaron Sanchez. The prize is the same as in previous seasons, as the winner will receive $250,000 in prize money. One of the most significant differences in season 10 is the number of contestants competing in the cooking competition as they have gone bigger than ever. When the series first started, there were just 14 contestants. This number increased until there were 22 contestants taking part in seasons four and five. In seasons seven and eight, this figure dropped back down to 20 contestants, and then 24 people in season nine. There are a whopping 36 people at the start of season 10 who are all fighting for one of the coveted top 20 spots.
According to Gordon Ramsay, the standard of the competitors has risen over the years, and viewers can expect some top-level cooking from the new contestants. He has explained that home cooks are developing more skills than ever, thanks to the media and information available to them. People are also buying professional level equipment to use at home, thus developing their culinary techniques.
Ramsay has also said that the challenges are getting crazier. This is in part thanks to the new producer, Natalka Znak, who was previously the producer for Hell’s Kitchen. Some of the planned challenges include cooking at the wedding reception of a former MasterChef winner, catering for a 10th-anniversary pool party, and creating exquisite dishes for NASCAR drivers. Possibly one of the most exciting challenges for the contestants is taking a trip to the UK to run a dinner service in one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants.
In an interview with Variety, host, judge, and executive producer Ramsay said that he treats the show like running a restaurant. This means getting creative each season to make the show interesting and including challenges that viewers will want to watch. In previous seasons, Ramsay has shown the contestant how to break down a chicken. This season, they wanted to do a creative take on this task and to up the ante in recognition of the greater skill level of the chefs. Therefore, viewers will see the contestants taking part in a challenge that involves them breaking down a chicken while blindfolded.
There is also a greater focus on mentorship in this season. Viewers will see the professional chefs doing skills demos and offering the contestants guidance and advice. This is perhaps in response to viewer criticism of previous seasons regarding a lack of support from the judges. Viewers felt that the judges were overly critical of the contestants and this led to some viewers turning off their televisions. As this is the tenth season of the show, the producers wanted to tackle the production in a different way to create a celebratory feel for the anniversary of the series. One way they are doing this is o have the judges arrive by helicopter with fireworks going off in the background. They also want to offer the contestants something better than the $250,000 prize. So, this season, contestants are also competing to win mentorship from Gordon Ramsay.
Overall, it looks like viewers can expect some exciting changes now that the series is in its tenth season. The producers have clearly listened to viewer feedback regarding the series and made necessary changes to keep viewers interested and watching until the end of season 10.