Why MasterChef Is Fake

For a show based solely around cooking, MasterChef has surpassed expectations worldwide to become one of the most entertaining reality TV franchises out there. This makes it all the more disappointing that a show so compelling and so popular, often has something seemingly suspicious going on behind the scenes. Although fantastic in what it achieves, MasterChef is absolutely and utterly fake. The show has done better in recent years in reducing the amount of suspicious behaviour mentioned, but MasterChef U.S. went through a spell of events a few years ago, that left fans with a bitter taste in their mouth. This is when allegations of the show being fake all began. While its closest competitor – Top Chef – operates by working with real top chefs, who have already reached a relative amount of success in the food industry, MasterChef works with home-cooks just trying to make it in the world. This leads to a striking difference between the casting of the two shows, as the former just casts good chefs whether or not they make for compelling TV, while the latter relies on having entertaining personalities, often ignoring the best home-cooks on the show if they can’t meet that same level of entertainment. Top Chef is a competition first and a show second, but MasterChef is a show first and a competition second. This article examines the various ways in which the American version of MasterChef often looks guilty of being a hoax.

Focusing On The Show, Not The Competition

Because MasterChef relies on producing a good TV watching experience, far too many fantastic cooks have gone home in place of contestants who just simply make for better TV. Take Season 7’s Terry Mueller for example. The 40-year old handyman was the season’s front runner for a large majority of the season, quietly making stunning dish after stunning dish. Only problem was, he was a wallflower. So the moment he made one mediocre dish, he was eliminated. This was in place of contestants like Nathan and Dan who probably had half the culinary talent as Terry. Admittedly, Nathan and Dan were two of the only reasons worth watching season seven. It was one of the show’s most disappointing ever and one could sympathize with Gordon and co wanting to keep anyone who could provide entertainment value. That being said, this kind of focus on the show and not the competition, has always opened the American version of the show up for criticism. Its closest competitor on the other hand in Top Chef eliminates the cook who made the worst dish each episode whether they are the show’s star character or just wallpaper, blending into the background.

Need more proof? Remember when the loud and obnoxious Leslie Gilliams made it all the way to the final three in Season 5 for seasoning every single protein with just salt and pepper? Or back to the notoriously bad Season 7 when despite being up for elimination almost every single episode, the narcissistic David Williams made it all the way to the finale. This can be seen time and time again and practically every single fan of the show has picked up on it at this point as the show continues to lose viewers to other reality shows.

Another incredibly obvious formula for eliminating contestants on MasterChef arises out of an attempt for constant gender equivalency. One of the main problems the judges ran into on Season 7 was in eliminating so many females early on. When the show got down to the final nine, only three female contestants remained, which created a massive problem. That was one of the key factors in Terry’s elimination, as it was for fireman Eric Howard in the same episode as well. The highly untalented Tanorria Askew (who?) meanwhile made it all the way to the final four to make for an equal 2:2 gender ratio; something that has been chemically produced in seven of the nine seasons so far. This also became highly obvious in Season 5, where this time it was the men who were far less talented. The aforementioned Leslie and ‘Cutter’ – the man who had been up for elimination for what seemed like the entire latter half of the competition, cruised into the final four. This was in place of highly talented baker Jaimee Vitolo, as there was only enough producer-filled female slots for Courtney and Elizabeth towards the end of the competition.

Unsuccessful Contestants

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Across seven seasons of the American version of the show, only two contestants have really achieved top success in the field. This doesn’t necessarily contribute to making the show “fake” but it does make the season very pointless at times to watch.

Take Becky Reams for example. With seven challenge wins, Becky was easily the most consistent and probably the best competitor on Season 3 of the American show. After she was eliminated just before the finale in third place, Gordon Ramsay was quick to offer her a place in any restaurant of her choosing, something he actually hasn’t done that often across any of his programs. Instead, she’s stuck to a career in photography and the farthest she’s managed in the food industry is a very discreet food blog.

Most contestants who do well on the show and don’t just go back to their everyday lives opt to open up food trucks or small scale catering businesses rather than bothering with the hassle of trying to open a restaurant. Season 4 winner Luca Manfe is one such contestant with his truck “The Lucky Fig” while Elizabeth Cauvel has served almost solely as a menu consultant.

Of the 175 contestants to compete on the American version of the show, only three have achieved a high amount of success in the food industry. That’s season 1 winner Whitney Miller, a former NFL’er who was already famous before his reign on the show in Eddie Jackson and perhaps more surprisingly, season 3’s fifth place finisher Monti Carlo. Christine Ha could be thought of as relatively successful, but her post-show stardom has rather unfortunately revolved more around her being an inspiration for the visually impaired than being an amazing chef.

Season 1 winner Whitney Miller has achieved a high amount of success in the field, mostly through her writing but also through acting as a judge on a multitude of different cooking shows and platforms. She also currently works at a top Florida restaurant in Orlando. Eddie Jackson meanwhile has hosted or been a judge on several shows on the Food Network. Not necessarily what a former MasterChef contestant would hope for but it’s better than most. Other than Whitney and Eddie, the only other contestant who has used MasterChef as a platform to really make it into the food industry is Season 3’s fifth place finisher, Monti Carlo. Monti Carlo has been quite the blogger since MasterChef ended. Her website islandgirlcooks.com has turned into a business venture where she conducts cooking classes country-wide. She also hosts Food Network’s Help my Yelp and previously hosted A&E’s Make My Food Famous. 

Three successful contestants out of more than a hundred-fifty, renders the show almost pointless to watch as even the best of the best seem to fail to truly make it deep into the industry.

Unjust Winners 

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To its many faults, MasterChef USA still manages to produce a highly entertaining television program. But it’s biggest controversy and the point at which most fans started to realize that the reality show may not be all that real, arose out of the back-to-back winners of season five and season six.

Although season five winner Courtney Lapresi may have been the most talented contestant on the season or at least second to Elizabeth, by the rules of the competition, she should have gone home really early on after a fatal mistake in just the third episode. Towards the end of the season it was also extremely evident that she was encouraged by the judges to save herself from pressure tests and fans were outraged all season long as she constantly won challenges despite her dishes often really not seeming up to par. She ended up winning the season and for many viewers of the show, this author included, she was a deserving winner of the show. But the problem was that her fellow finalist, Elizabeth Cauvel, had dominated the entire season with what still holds as a record amount of challenge wins. A heavy amount of backlash arose thereafter and the primary suggestion from viewers was that Courtney received the money over Elizabeth because she simply needed it so much more, as it would help her quit her job as an “aerial dancer” (stripper).

Even worse though was Claudia’s finale win in season six. Derrick Peltz had been the front runner all season long and although very young, he might have been the best home-cook the show has ever seen. At the series finale it came down to Derrick and Claudia Sandoval, an “events manager” of very poor background who had stuck to cooking Mexican cuisine the entire competition and never really stepped outside her boundaries. Despite being slammed by the judges at the finale for playing it safe and producing very simple Mexican dishes rather than blowing them away like Derrick had done, Claudia ended up winning the season. This came just moments after Claudia received criticism for serving a tamale in the same round that Derrick produced a stunning braised pork belly. The edit that the show presented the viewers was that Derrick had outclassed Claudia in the finale, just like he had done all season. Yet somehow Claudia still won. Her win sparked confusion and outrage among the fan base, with a countless number of articles calling the season “rigged” and a multitude of petitions going live to “make the show fair.” Although Claudia was a very talented home cook, she had not performed better during the season nor on finale night and Derrick deserved to sweep away the title. But the suggestion at the time was that if Claudia hadn’t won, her daughter would go hungry, while drummer Derrick would be fine and continue to have a good, privileged life. She also as one writer put it “had a natural built in sob story”, because of her background and single-mom status, whereas Derrick winning may have been less easy for casual fans to empathize with.

This has been the major controversy with the show over the years and although there are laws permitting reality game shows from being rigged, it seems MasterChef continues to skate by through some suspicious acts.

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Although an amazing television program, MasterChef continues to disappoint fans with its scripted eliminations and unjustified winners. Unfortunately for the successful show, it pales in comparison to other reality television productions and even Top Chef, which focuses almost entirely on making a good competition, has the potential to produce a better product.

So what do you think? Is MasterChef rigged? Is it fake? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. See you next time!

Keep on sharing this article and keep on spreading the word! 

To read the follow-up piece to this article see ->
Why I Wrote ‘Why MasterChef Is Fake’


37 thoughts on “Why MasterChef Is Fake

  1. i stop watching masterchef when terry from season 7 got eliminated coz IT DOESNT MAKE SENSE!!!! he deserve to be on the top three atleast sending the best chef home after ONE mistake when others have made plenty like nathan can fuck up left and right and still be on the show how about Dan? he got in the top five for fucking real??? IM SO MAD stop watching any gordon ramsey related shit!!!!


  2. FAKE!! I used to love watching MasterChef. Not any more. It started to seem really fake to me. Especially when Derrick lost. And good cooks were being eliminated. I started paying closer attention and and it was screaming FAKE!! I’m also not a fan of Christina Tosi. She looks afraid to taste the food and she barely does when she has to.
    Bummer…because I used to enjoy the show.


    1. I’m watching reruns on Hulu from Season 1 on, and it definitely seems rigged. More so than I noticed the first time around, but I must admit Up through Season 4, I am not disappointed with the winners one bit! So far the only cookbook I want is from Season 1, and then maybe Luca’s, though probably just to admire his delicious recipies.


  3. Obviously fake and nothing but fake!! An ordinary Joe from the streets could really cook up a superb Michelin star cuisine without any prior experience??..oh c’mon…such an insult to the culinary industry!!


  4. I know I have watched too much Master Chef when the other day, I wanted to call management over after being served a horrendous plate of chicken at Ruby Tuesday, that looked like something I had from our college mess hall. I was going to tell them the presentation was atrocious, the chicken disgusting, and ask if they “were done.” Felt a bit scary, to be honest. I quietly complained and had a free dinner.

    Anything on TV isn’t reality, especially reality TV. I liken MasterChef to Professional Wrestling. You know it is not 100% legit, but it is entertaining. My cousin was runner up on a Chopped episode, and even Chopped it seems like they can find a reason to Chop you if they want, and a reason to keep you if they want.

    One “skill” if you watch enough Master Chef is this — you basically can, at least I can, almost 100% predict who is going to be the one booted off when it comes down to a final two, which team -Red or Blue- won the round, who won the pressure test (usually it’s the 3rd one they announce), etc.

    Take last week’s high rise cook off in Las Vegas – , Newton vs the female black preacher. it was similar to the Luca lobster cook off. Newton vs. Tseika. Now, if they wanted Newton to win, they would have emphasized his better pasta and better oysters. Tseika won because they emphasized the fact Newton couldn’t open the caviar.

    They often use past-performances as well when eliminating, not always when someone completely bombs. And I don’t know what is scripted, what is staged, what is creatively steered, etc.

    Whether it is faked or not, it is a bit too unpredictable, and very rarely does something get passed me. I did like the first episode’s pressure challenge taking the three dishes and turning the tables to actually pick the 3 worst dishes. That was hysterical.

    I liked it better with Joe and Graham.

    I like conspiracy stuff, so I think they rigged that Leslie/Courtney bake-off by sabotaging Leslie’s salt for sugar. Or just making it up that he put salt instead of sugar! And yes the Claudia finale was one of the most pathetic surprises ever pulled –especially when listening to the judges themselves gave ZERO reason to justify Claudia pulling the upset.

    I also think they get to maybe practice during the week the dish in advance or at least get trained during the week so they give the illusion they are amateurs but trained to make the show look good.

    It is good entertainment, even though it leaves a bad taste in my mouth!


  5. From what I know, the contestants do get taught how to cook some of the key dishes they do on the show. I guess that’s cool. They actually learn how to cook something from the judges.

    I still think Derrick should have won. That was hands down all him.


  6. I can’t even watch this show any more. Every challenge shows the judges clearly picking apart dishes that look perfect and passing dishes with undercooked or overcooked proteins. Just covering for the contestants. I remember the days when Gordon would yell at the contestants, “This is MASTER CHEF not MASTER BAKER!” Boy have they changed!


  7. This year is terrible – it is obvious that Gordon wants Yasheica to go far into the competition – her last 2 challenge dishes were terrible – including the latest where Gordon spit her tortellini out – yet she went through over Gabriel. Rigged, rigged, rigged.


  8. In Masterchef Junior, Justice did not won the competition who’s doing damn good show everytime and also went to the white house because of winning the challenge and the other girl won (which came fromt he wild card). It’s unfair for the little adorable girl


  9. This might be a stupid question, but here goes. During team challenges when they select their team members, how is it that their names are already on the correct color team apron?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t know how Krissi finished fourth ahead of James, Jordan, Bime, and some more stronger contestants. Krissi was not a bad cook, but the names I mentioned before were just better. She was a poor team player, she never tried to leave her comfort zone. While James, Jordan, and Bime got eliminated after one bad performance, Krissi kept on getting away with it. Probably if Krissi got eliminated earlier, the drama with Jessie would never happen. Krissi was probably kept just for ratings.
    The same thing applies to season 5’s Cutter, that arrogant prick who couldn’t take criticism. He was constantly performing badly, made a lot of mistakes, and got into bottom three a lot. How he ended up fourth ahead of Big Willie, Christian, and literally everybody else is just pretty questionable, he was easily one of the weakest home cooks in season 5. If Cutter was in Hell’s Kitchen, Gordon Ramsay would kick him out before the first dinner service.


  11. It is absolutely Fake especially the Canadian one casted on the very communist news channel Ctv.

    I tried out for the most recent season last summer. Not only did I get an email meant for someone they were inviting to the “audition” the cast is pre selected. They make it a big hula balloo like the auditions are real but they are not. This is a pre selected cast from actra. They claime it is a competition between home chefs but the winners are pre selected. From the very gecko in the ground one young mathematician aka unemployed rich kid from rich man hill living in his parents basement in Toronto got casted on. He had the camera on him well before the presentation of food and way before names were even put in at the entrance where we brought our pre made meal. He had his entire gang of 30 family members with him who went to the extent of making t shirts. He knew well before the audition he was selected. MASTER CHEF CANADA IS RIGGED ROGGED FAKE SCRIPTED PRESELECTED SECRETE ACTRA AGENCY GARBAGE.


  12. During one of my bored days I happened to click on to MasterChef a rerun of course I think it was episode 5 so it caught my curiosity I went to episode 1 to see what this MasterChef was all about. Let just say that by season 3 I was already questioning the athenticity of this show. I am in agreement that MasterChef is for show ONLY which is very sad. I guess I’m going to have to bite the financial bullet and get cable so I can watch Food Network and get some great food techniques that I enjoy. I feel for those contestants that go on the show from their hearts. To think I was thinking of trying to recruit a family member that is a awesome cook to try to get on Master Chef.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I was looking at the show from the beginning because I never saw the earlier seasons. What I’ve noticed is, besides all the scripted stuff during the contest, during the auditions two many times the camera is actually in the car while certain contestants are driving to the show. Also, I can tell by the questions asked, Gordon already knows too much about the contestants. Like when in season 4’s auditions the woman that was made to filet the fish. He knew she could do it. I stopped watching. During the contest, they always keep rude and fighting people in order to have a lot of drama!
    I will never watch this show again!!!!
    I’m not into REALITY tv. I like TRUE tv. I don’t watch dumb shows like Real Housewives, Kardashians, Dance Mom’s, etc…
    I feel stupid for following this show to the point that I did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if y’all listened to what the judges often says

      “It’s not matter how you start, it’s how you finish”

      Something like that line. And that applies all the time in Masterchef

      So some contestants could be perform below average and still getting away and entering top ten because someone coincidentally made an even more disastrous dish at each round,
      like you can say they were lucky.
      (a contestant that would fit with this kind of example would be Tali in Masterchef US Season 3).

      Same as how some contestants have been going or often going strong at the beginning, perform bad once and got eliminated because they entered top worst,
      (For example Becky in Masterchef US Season 3)

      they don’t get judged based on past performances but they are judged based on how they perform at that round.

      Even Luca the winner in season 4 wasn’t a strong competitor at the beginning


  14. I’m watching the finale of Master Chef 2018, and it is fake beyond words. I’ve watched all the previous seasons but this will be my last. Top Chef is 100% better than this fixed show. And the judges annoy the hell out of me. Joe and Gordon could not be more cocky and condescending!


  15. don`t know about one cook more deserving than another – but what really seems fake or staged is all this drama and preference over people with more character than people who may be more skilled. like a comment above – i think this may be a little closer to fake wrestling .


  16. Fake. Stopped watching after season 5. While there were other episodes that might have been rigged it was not that obvious or at least they were not attrocious. Choosing deserts that generally people do not make or buy is a way to rig the game but is within the rules. How Courtney won is not. It was clear at least to me her cooking skills were even bellow that of an average cook and that she could not handle the stress of being a chef.


    1. I thought the first 3 seasons were really very good. They didn’t have all the stupid drama and the winners actually did cook very well. When I looked at the different seasons lists of the contestants who made the top 20 and counted how many wins the different people had it started ticking me off. The winners usually had far less individual wins than many of the other contestants. When Claudia won I felt happy only because she allegedly did need the money, but she never one time strayed from her comfort zone of preparing Mexican dishes. The first three seasons you saw them actually bloom into better cooks and expand their knowledge.


  17. I thought Max was good and totally ripped off when eliminated. He did have on the show a somewhat abrasive personality but so do a lot of them. He was only 18 at the time. He did make good points when making statements and cooked good food.

    Max wished a hope to see his detractors crash and burn as he left so for the rest of the show I counted gleefully as “Enemies of Max” flamed out. At the finale his final statement was a letdown, however.


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