MasterChef production secrets: 14 behind the scenes facts about making the show
Yes, the food is cold by the time Gregg and John taste it
MasterChef UK is back for a new series – so as you watch you might find yourself wondering about some of the behind the scenes secrets which go into the production of the show.
Like, is the food even warm by the time John and Gregg get to try it? Are the challenges really filmed back to back and all in one day? Where even is MasterChef filmed? How hard is the application process?
You’ll probably be surprised as to how much goes into making the classic show. Here are all the juiciest best kept production secrets about the making of MasterChef.
The MasterChef application form contains loads of weird questions including when you ‘fell in love with food’
If you think you have what it takes to be a MasterChef contestant, you’ll have to get past the long and detailed application form first. You have to fill out details of the “hardest cooking situation you’ve ever been in”, and the “exact moment you fell in love with food”.
Then you’re still not done, after the application forms is a phone call with producers, and several face-to-face auditions and interviews before you get chosen.
It’s even more serious for the MasterChef: The Professionals hopefuls, as producers will turn up at their place of work and get them to cook some dishes, and they have to provide detailed references from their employers.
Yes, the food is cold when the judges get to try it
The biggest of all the MasterChef production secrets that we’re all dying to know the answer to, is if the food is even warm when Gregg and John come to trying it. All the contestants cook, then stand at their benches and wait to be called one by one to go to the judges’ table so they can eat what they have made. So, is the last person at a complete disadvantage because they’ve been stood there waiting as their dish goes stone cold?
In short: Yes – the food is cold. The crew has to get shots of the dishes after they are plated up, and then all the contestants go up separately, and this can apparently take up to two hours. For segments where it does take up to two hours, the plates will sometimes be refrigerated in the meantime, before the judges even get to try it. But Gregg and John and the critics are professionals, so they know what food is meant to taste like regardless of the temperature so they take that into account with their feedback.
John and Gregg will often try the food as it’s being cooked, to make up for it being cold at the end
To make up for the food being cold and probably not at it’s best by the time they eat it, John and Gregg will often walk around the room and try bits as it’s being cooked – but this isn’t shown on TV.
Former MasterChef finalist Jack Layer told Stylist: “John and Gregg are always wandering around when they’re not on camera, trying little bits. They get a pretty good idea about the dish in advance, probably more so than when they taste it all together.”
Yes, the desserts are often melted too
And again, whilst the contestants are standing waiting to be called up to the judges, are their beautiful desserts melting away into nothing? Former finalists Billy and Jack told Stylist that frozen food often comes out right before the judges test it, that’s why ice cream can be seen served on the side in a dish quite a lot. But there is still a delay whilst the crew take plate shots, and it often does melt.
And John and Gregg aren’t allowed to say anything about food temperates in their critique
Have you noticed that John and Gregg never say anything about the food being cold? Or even that certain items on the plate are a different temperature to others? It’s a pretty standard critique of food everywhere else, and something you would complain about in a restaurant – but not on MasterChef. Because of the delay between food making it to the judges, they aren’t actually allowed to mention temperates at all in their reviews.
The crew gets to eat all the leftovers
If you’re wondering what happens to all the delicious leftovers after they’ve been taste-tasted, it’s one of the more well known MasterChef production secrets that the crew gets to sweep up all the food. Food very rarely gets thrown away, unless it’s literally inedible. Where do I sign up to join the crew please?
Filming goes on for over 12 hours a day
Previous contestants have said that filming starts around 7:30am and doesn’t end until 8pm at night. And that can become as late as 11pm when filming for finals week. As well as all the cooking and interview pieces to camera we get to see on the show, there are hours of setting up, extra shots and taking pictures and footage of the dishes that we don’t see.
So when it looks like the challenges are all happening in the same day back to back, they probably are.
Contestants send recipes for their signature dishes to the show in advance so the right ingredients can be bought
It’s pretty clear that the MasterChef pantry is very well stocked up, but in parts when the contestants cook their signature dishes they will have told the show what these are beforehand. This is so it can be certain that all the right ingredients, and enough for everyone, is in the pantry before filming begins.
The chefs are also given some time to familiarise themselves with the kitchen and their cooking bench
Everything on MasterChef looks like it’s full speed ahead with no chance for the chefs to even breathe. But what isn’t shown on TV is that the contestants get a little bit of time to familiarise themselves with the kitchens and where everything is in the room before the challenges take place. They are also allowed to set up their bench with any additional equipment they might need, before the timing starts.
The show is filmed inside an old brewery
Since 2014, MasterChef has been filmed at 3 Mills Studios, in East London. This is an old brewery on an industrial estate. Before the series was filmed here, a halls of residence at London City University was used.
John gives the contestants tips as they’re cooking
Let’s be real, one of the MasterChef production secrets we are all probably thinking about is how much help they get from professional chef and judge, John Torode. Jack Lucas from MasterChef 2014 said: “I loved John and Gregg. They are so supportive, and you don’t see that on camera. John knows a tremendous amount about food and gave lots of tips.”
Contestants don’t actually know what the critics said about their food until the series airs on TV
In the sections where contestants cook for the guest critics, they don’t actually get to find out what was said about their food in the other room until the TV audiences do too. During filming, contestants aren’t told any of the feedback they got, so you never know if you’ve got a pleasant or a nasty surprise coming your way when you watch episodes back.
The invention test really is as scary as it is made out to be
In the invention test, chefs go in blind and are just given a bunch of ingredients to make a dish out of. Well that’s what it looks like on TV, so is it this hard? Finalist Louisa Ellis told the Birmingham Mail it really is, and you have no time to prepare and no idea what you’re going to cook.
The narrator is a woman called India Fisher
If you’re wondering who the narrator of the show is, her name is India Fisher and she’s a 47-year-old mum from Stoke. She’s an actress and narrator and loves cooking. She’s voiced all the different varieties of MasterChef UK at some point.
Episodes of MasterChef are available on BBC iPlayer and Netflix now.