MasterChef contestants stay in a hotel during the filming of the competition. Masterchef contestants could be on set from eight to 14 hours a day.
Since its conception, the competitive cooking show television format MasterChef has inspired franchises worldwide. It initially originated with the UK version in July 1990.
The format soon became popular and was revived and updated for the BBC in 2005 by executive producers Franc Roddam and John Silver.
MasterChef Australia was its first international adaptation, which started in April 2009. The show is now produced in over 40 countries and airs in over 200 territories.
The American version of the show premiered on Fox on July 27, 2010, featuring amateur and home chefs competing head-to-head to win the title of MasterChef.
The show returned for its thirteenth season on Fox on May 24, 2023, with returning judges Gordon Ramsay, Aaron Sanchez, and Joe Bastianich.
Officially called United Tastes of America, Season 13 will divide the participants based on regions- South, West, Northwest, and Midwest.
During the competition, the chefs will compete in a series of challenges, including Mystery Box challenges, a state fair challenge, Tag Team events, and cooking at Dodge Stadium.
Where Do MasterChef Contestants Stay During Filming?
MasterChef contestants stay in a hotel during the filming of the competitive cooking series. Their transportation and food expenses are paid for by production.
The show doesn’t usually show it, with the exception of Season 3 Episode 7, when the contestants were woken up at 3:30 am, while they were all sound asleep in a Los Angeles hotel.
The judges’ panel asked the chefs to get ready and head down to the hotel kitchen for the next Team Challenge -to prepare all the breakfast room service orders for the hotel.
The dishes included delicious oatmeal, homemade pancake, fresh fruit salad, egg white omelet, eggs benedict, and two eggs any style.
After the contestants arrive at the kitchen at around 4:15, Chef Ramsay revealed their early rush task: “Cooking all the room service orders at this huge Radisson hotel,” he said.
For this challenge, the teams had 90 minutes to prepare and 90 minutes to serve.
So, it’s obvious that all the MasterChef contestants are put in a hotel together but in separate rooms for the duration of filming, and their living expenses are paid for by the show.
What makes setting accommodations for a popular show like MasterChed is that for the most part, the participants are visiting the same location for filming.
And while the show is edited to a few challenges, contestants usually spend a whopping 12 hours a day on set, with a lot of downtime before they actually appearing on camera.
While a challenge may last 60 minutes, an average filming day is much longer.
”We can be on set anywhere from like eight to 14 or 15 hours. They’re huge days of filming,” MasterChef alumni Mindy Woods told in 2022.
From the first day of filming, the wardrobe department picks a specific outfit for each contestant. They also care for their hair and makeup to ensure each contestant is camera-ready.
Do They Get Paid While On The Show?
Yes, MasterChef contestants are paid for their time on the show. The chefs were paid a weekly allowance of $630 in 2013, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The pay is slightly more than the minimum weekly wage of $583 for an entry-level cook. Added extra living expenses covered.
In 2011 the situation was even more appalling, with $500 paid to the contestants every week, reported News.com.au. It is almost $100 less than the national minimum wage of $589.30.
Moreover, their weekly pay is less than half the average wage of $1291.34.
Billy Law, a former contestant, spoke about the shoddy amount, sharing that while he didn’t realize the difference during filming, his outlook changed after the show wrapped up.
“That’s when the reality hits and it’s then the time to start looking for jobs and to start making money again,” Law explained.
There is, however, one glaringly obvious catch here. Despite the show’s measly pay, there’s a very pleasing treat awaiting the grand champion -a whopping cash prize of $250,000.
And don’t forget the coveted MasterChef trophy.
The weekly pay may not be a lot, but it’s not enough to deter hopeful contestants from making a run at the title of being called MasterChef.
Not only that, the show is guaranteed to boost their profile in the industry, with many MasterChef winners going on to host their own shows, releasing cookbooks, and opening their restaurants.
For instance: Emma Dean, Season 5 winner, hosts the daily cooking show My Market Kitchen, and Season 4 winner Andy Allen co-owns the Three Blue Ducks restaurant.
Allen also joined the judging panel of MasterChef Australia in 2020 alongside Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo.
These successful foodie career paths are sure to bring in fortune, especially when you live in passionate foodie cities. That being said, one has to win MasterChef before living this level of frivolity.
MasterChef Contestants Don’t Get Any Recipes
MasterChef contenders are forbidden from using recipes so they must really have some skills to compete. The chefs must have it all down pat by memory.
Can you imagine walking into your kitchen and making a delicious meal entirely from scratch with no references or recipes to help guide you?
Now, imagine doing the same with the clock ticking and the judges ready to taste the final product. Isn’t it scary? It’s exactly what the MasterChef contestants do on the show.
With no recipes allowed in the kitchen, contenders must lean on tried and true techniques, advice and guidance from the chefs and a heavy dose of luck.
“It’s scary. There are moments when you’re like, ‘Oh my god, it worked!'” said season 5 contestant Elise Mayfield to AV Club.
“I don’t know any other way to explain it other than that it is amazing what the human brain can remember when you’re under pressure,” she added.
Although there is a lot of behind-the-scenes action, there’s one thing the show doesn’t fudge, the one-hour time limit. “They’re real, and when they say the clock started, the clock started, Elise shared.
Again, mystery boxes are also real and each contestants are just as surprised as they appear on screen.
But if a challenge involves a particular skill that isn’t familiar to a home cook, the production brings an expert in to teach contestants. Remember there are no pros on this show.
“Every weekend, we’d practice three to four dishes or techniques,” writes Elizabeth Cauvel. She shared that while shooting took place on the weekdays, they were offered cooking classes on the weekend.
The chefs aren’t obligated to take these classes but considering that the learnings would walk them through skills directly related to upcoming tasks, no one would turn them down.