Masterchef USA: A Complete Failure vs. Masterchef Australia

Official MasterChef Logo
Official MasterChef Logo | Source

Masterchef is an older series that has inspired millions of people to cook. However, going on the third season of Masterchef US there have been more and more problematic areas when compared with other series, especially with what I think is the best series - Masterchef Australia.

Here we will look at the differences in content, production, judges, and contestants to see how different they are and what the problem areas of Masterchef US are.

A Large Difference In Content

Masterchef US and Australia have quite a large number of differences, but the most shocking is content. Firstly, the Australian version has 70-80+ episodes per season (a few every week). For the US version the first season had 13 episodes, the second 20, and third will probably be 22 for a total of 55 episodes in 3 years. This format alone leads to very large differences in content.

Masterchef US has a mystery box challenge or some field trip competition and then if there was a team challenge there is a pressure test, however lately in season 3 they have mainly been doing only solo competitions to weed people out.

Masterchef Australia has an episode 6 days a week.
Sunday: Challenge Night. Can be Mystery Box followed by an invention test, or a field trip challenge.
Monday: Pressure Test. Contestants battle to stay in the competition.
Tuesday: Immunity Challenge. Winning contestants fight against a real Chef to gain immunity.
Wednesday: Team Challenge. Contestants are split into teams and fight for a win.
Thursday: Pressure Test. The losing team fights to not go home.
Friday: Master Class. Everyone gets to learn from the Judges and guest Chefs, some winners get to go to a special master class to learn special things privately.

With Australia having a huge amount of content and the US lacking quite a bit, from content standards alone the the US starts failing in comparison.

Down below is a prime example of some of the main format, tone, and personality differences: Firstly, a Master Class. Secondly, the interaction with the judge. Thirdly, the interaction of the contestants.

An Example Australian Master Class

The Gordon Ramsay Production Problems and More.

Gordon Ramsay seems to have different personalities based on what program he is on. In Kitchen Nightmares and Masterchef, he tends to be able to take a nicer line and be more sentimental. On the later seasons of Hells Kitchen he is a loud, bullying chef that underlines every error, impact, or shouting match with horribly cheesy camera effects or sound effects. However, what does the Gordon Ramsay production problem do with Masterchef?

Simply, it caters to the lowest reality TV standards.

1. In Hells Kitchen lately, most of the time a horrible chef will be saved over a good chef, especially if they scream and cause drama. This is purely to create an enemy - someone to hate and yell at.

In Masterchef US: Currently in Season 2 there is a contestant still in the game that should have left ages ago. He is incompetent, the chefs spit his food out, throw it everywhere, etc. The contestants keep saying "I don't know why he is here", and so does everyone else. This is to create an enemy and someone to cause drama for American reality TV standards, and I find it insulting and wrong on so many levels.

2. Misleading "next time on" clips. There are countless times in any of Ramsay's shows where it shows a clip of Ramsay screaming, someone crying, and something being broken, leading to it looking like someone messed up horribly and will go home. However, these clips can come from any time through the episode and be over 10 minutes apart from each other. Highly misleading in order to get a drama factor and get people to watch the next episode.

3. Misleading phrasing. This is a small issue. "Never before in Masterchef US history has _ happened" is a common wording from Ramsay. Interestingly enough as it is only the first or second season, it is true. However, it feels redundant and brings me out of whatever he was trying to say because it just sounds so ridiculous. "Never before have we ___"... Well, maybe if you had more than 20 episodes it would be surprising.

Other problems?

Most glaringly:

1. Joe. Just a restaurateur, can't cook, and was sued by his wait staff for 5 million for skimming their tips. For those of you who don't know, waiters are taxed on a percentage of sales projected as tips so he was stealing a lot of money from them.

2. Showing who goes into elimination rounds in the opening teasers. Really? You just ruined the whole first half of the episode because now we know which team losses.

There are more, but you can start to see the bad patterns if you watch it yourself.

Screenshot of MasterChef US Judges
Screenshot of MasterChef US Judges

Masterchef Judges: US vs Australia

Masterchef US
In looking over the US judges we have Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot. Interestingly enough, they try to play Good cop, middle cop, and bad cop. Graham is nice to almost everyone, Gordon is nice at times, but sometimes bad, and Joe is just plain rude to everyone most of the time.

Masterchef US judges have very large personality differences from the Masterchef Australia judges. Firstly, the Australian counterparts never spit food out, throw plates around, nor throw tantrums when food isn't perfect - in fact they often try to help the contestant if they are really struggling. The US judges usually scowl and complain that it looks disgusting or is completely wrong.

The way the judges are presented are completely different too. In Australia they are mentors, teaching you how to cook and share their years of cooking experience. In the US they are harsh taskmasters that will flay you for looking at them wrong. Furthermore, you rarely learn anything from the US judges whereas you are constantly learning tips and tricks from the Australian show.

MasterChef Australia Judges
MasterChef Australia Judges

The Contestants

While both series like to have touching stories, the US one seems a bit more put on. Some of them seem pretty fake, or selected by producers to make good reality TV. This couples with some of the odd choices the judges make -keeping bad chefs with a lot of drama over good chefs that are nice to everyone for instance - to make it feel like a reality TV series rather than a the touching competition that Masterchef Australia gives.

Interestingly enough a lot of media has not been happy with the US series. The LA Times claims that the contestant's backgrounds from the US version were overly blown up for dramatization purposes, and Agence France-Presse found a few of the scenes of crowds to be edited to be made a lot larger than they actually were, trying to make it feel more important leading to a lot of questions about realism.

While I would not like to join Masterchef US for the fear of being thrown under the bus or sabotaged (or even judged poorly because I am not dramatic nor cut throat), I would love to be a part of the Masterchef Australia experience. The contestants are nice, form close bonds, and have even tried to sacrifice their dreams for other contestants. I could not imagine that from Masterchef US at all.

A Long Story Short

When comparing the US and Australian versions of Masterchef, there is a lot to be desired. To give a comparison with food: it is as if Australia was a high quality, hearty buffet and the US was an over-spiced, sometimes disgusting plate of food that you might eat when you are really hungry but are totally unhappy after the experience is over.

Comments 43 comments

T4an profile image

T4an 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

Wow, what a great comparison of the two shows. I didn't know it was on in Australia. I really enjoy the show but I do agree with you on a lot of your points. I don't like it when they keep an annoying chef on who can't cook only to draw in ratings. I can't stand how rude Joe can be at times. It is hard to believe that Lidia Bastianich is his mother. She seems too sweet to be his Mom. Loved your hub. Voted up!

Danieljohnston profile image

Danieljohnston 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Oh wow! You should look for streams of MasterChef Australia then. 4 seasons at about 70-80 episodes each. Total time investment, but it is funny, moving, exciting, and educational all at the same time. You can definitely see the difference between them by that Master Class clip.

Glad you liked the hub! :)

T4an profile image

T4an 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

I may watch a few but my problem is, I watch too much television as it is. You really have me curious though. Have a great day!

SGlitz 4 years ago

I completely agree. The Australia version is so far ahead of the US version it's like comparing a horse and buggy to a Ferrari, there just isn't one.

Yes, there are lots of episodes, but it is SOO worth it and makes it so much better.

The Master Classes themselves set this one apart.

Danieljohnston profile image

Danieljohnston 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

I totally agree. Master Classes are really nice because we get to learn along with the contestants, especially with the recipes they post on the website.

Becky 4 years ago

I'm British, I love Masterchef Australia! I even loved the kids one, they can cook better than the USA contestants! I can't stand the American one, it's fake, the contestants are all made to look like complete shits and the judges are rude. I found your post by googling 'why is the USA Masterchef so horrible compared to the Australian one?'

Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Daniel,

A great topic on one of my must see shows!! Australian Masterchef is totally the business!!! I love it and since moving in with my partner I can see every episode of the current series. Thank god for Sky TV! I don't know the USA version, just the British but do watch Gordon in various other shows. You did a great comparison and totally agree with your points on the Aussie show. Nicely written, looking forward to reading more from you:-)

Krupesh 3 years ago

Absolutely agree having just watched my first episode of Masterchef USA after following Masterchef Australia for years and absolutely hated it. The judges are horrible, don't offer any advice and just seem like they're there to make every contestant feel sh*t

Aleks71 3 years ago

Hello Daniel,

I've been searching for a while for this topic, because I love love love Masterchef Australia and I thought the Masterchef USA would be at least similar. What a disappointment! I agree with everything you said. I cannot believe that the producers thought it would be more interesting for the public if they create such drama. Why does even a cooking show have to be ...staged?? I love the sense of camaraderie between the Australian contestants and how they help each other. I love how the judges are so nice and so helpful and you can see they really love cooking and they don't need any additional drama to show how good they are. In this world full of ugly things, we surely need something positive and nice (also very useful) on TV, and I think that the Masterchef Australia is just that. I also tried to follow Masterchef New Zealand, but I was equally disappointed - they also have rude judges and lot of drama. Maybe many people really do like this kind of shows like the US version is, but I don't and I won't be watching it anymore. I hope that the Masterchef Australia will last for a long time, because there aren't many shows I enjoy as much.

So, thank you for this topic.

Lee Chen 3 years ago

The Australia's version is so far ahead of the US version it is not even funny. I am actually getting some of the greatest ideas and learning from Masterchef AU. Thank goodness for being able to "get" shows from other countries online. We are huge fans of Masterchef, Au.

Brock 3 years ago

You should also know that Australia has a MasterChef Junior, contestants between 9 and 12 years old. Most of them can cook much better than the US contestants. Hell they cook better than most people.

Sadly that has been cancelled.

ComplexVit 3 years ago

I watch them both and Australian Master Chef rocks. The contestants have that... "Even though we are competing for the same prize, there is no reason to be nasty to each other." On the other hand, the US version seems to be there for the drama and with the food being something as an added bonus for the viewers.

Annitha 3 years ago

I have been a fan of Masterchef Australia since it began and completely agree with every point you make! I am always telling people about how M.A. is a thousand times better than M. USA and now they are hooked. I watched the first season of M. USA and that was all I could stomach. Too bad not enough people know about M. A. I've learned so much from the Masterclasses and have even cooked along with Gary, George and Matt!!

Danieljohnston profile image

Danieljohnston 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Its gotten worse now that Walmart is buying so much adverting from Masterchef US... Going to be updating this soon. :)

Lisa 2 years ago

I agree, MasterChef Australia is amazing! The judges are great mentors with the aim of teaching! The contesants seem to support each other & aren't bitchy! The MasterClass sessions are educational for the public. I tried to watch MasterUS the first season but was rather disgusted by the production value, the judges, the scenarios etc...

MasterChef Australia season 5 is class and you continue to develop a passion for food and cooking!

Elvira 2 years ago

On dutch television, every evening there's a cooking-program marathon (my kitchen rules, masterchef, etc) and Masterchef Au is still my alltime favorite (we even have our version, but when it comes to dutch tv, it always comes of as a bit amateuristic). The US Masterchef is indeed _dreadful_!

Maggie Terlecki 2 years ago

I love MasterChef Australia and was so pleased to hear that Canada was going to have a Masterchef series, but they also went the American route of being incredibly rude to contestants, etc., and I stopped watching it. The Australians can teach the US and Canada a lot about doing it right. Lots of episodes, concentrate on how they cook and not on in-fighting and drama. By offering so many episodes, you really do get to know the contestants - their strengths and weaknesses and find favorites. The suspense is always there as everyone can have good or bad days. The judges are amazing as they are very fair. You did good, you get rewarded, you didn't do good, you get a chance to fight for your place on the show and if that doesn't work out, they treat you like a human being and remind you that you are not a nothing because you are leaving. You have value and they wish you luck in your future. I hate seeing other shows just dismiss people as if they are nobodies. Your review was spot on.

cybergirl 2 years ago

I agree to every word you said. In masterchef australia, judges are respectful and helpful, not nasty and insulting. I've only started watching it from season 5 and whenever there is an elimination, i love the way they show the glimpses of the most incredible dishes the person cooked in the series and the challenges he/she won in past, all the happy memories... Love it, way to go.. I hope Masterchef USA can learn a thing or two from them..

peppermonkey 2 years ago

There is no comparison between any other Masterchef series and the US one. The others are legitimate shows. Real. No one is chosen because of the tightness of their dress. Nothing feels scripted, nothing feels predictable. The US version is embarrassing in how fake it is. Just one small example, on any GR show, a competition in points always ends in a cliffhanger points wise, will it be the red team or the blue, the men or the women, just one point separates them! OH NO! Never a shut out, never a clean sweep, never an obvious winner, just always a close tie and OH SO SUSPENSEFUL. It's fake crap.

Eli Guzman 2 years ago

While this may all be true, I cannot imagine spending that much time watching one television show. 6 nights a week for how many weeks? That's just crazy! I'd never catch up or complete the series.

Bela 2 years ago

I am Dutch like Elvira and I absolutely do not like the US version. I mean the drama is juist too much, the mean competition and the Fame whores. Imam sorry, but you learn Nottingham from it. I too have learned so much just from whatching the Australian version

Bela 2 years ago

Sorry about the mistakes, my Ipad wants to do my thinking for me. I meant: I am Dutch like Elvira and I absolutely do not like the US version. I mean the drama is just too much, the mean competition and the fame whores. I am sorry, but you learn nothing from it. I too have learned so much just from watching the Australian version

Roy 2 years ago

I completely agree, Aus vesion has a large pellet of food which Us version lacks. The Us version has meat in every dish thus lacking the veriety.

Jess 2 years ago

Great article, completely on point. I started watching US mainly for the fun competitions and seeing what people came up with, but the scripted drama is unbearable.

Recently discovered all of AU on DailyMotion, and have learned so much more and seen so many great dishes just from a few episodes so far.

What's funny is the US version tries SO HARD to make the MasterChef title this amazing thing, but the way the judges carry themselves looks just laughable. Meanwhile the AU version is all about learning and camaraderie, and that MasterChef title winds up actually seeming like something worth having.

np 2 years ago

Cannot agree more!! Another comparison with food: MasterChef US is like a dehydrated veggie while the Aussie version is like a fresh one ;)

uday 2 years ago

Just look at Masterchef australia semifinal and you know its leaps and bounds over us version and all realty show. There is a genuine respect among contestant and judge truly respect them and also show emotions which was heart warming

L. 2 years ago

I was acutally always wondering what the heck do the US contestants mean when they say "the judges have taught us a lot". How? By screaming at you for not oversalting your food *cough* Graham's Yelp reviews *cough*. It's really no wonder poor Josh had a mental breakdown. From Ben Starr's blog it is pretty clear that what they do to those poor contestants is horrible.

Tam 23 months ago

I also prefer Masterchef Au to Masterchef Us. The space seems bigger and the colors seems brighter, which makes me more likely to feel comfortable.

I love the Au judges especially for their kindness and fairness.

Emelie 21 months ago

Agree so much with you and everyone in the comments. I can't stand watching the us version, it's plain nasty and everyone is horrible towards each other, and everything, even their cooking seems on a faaaar lower lever than the australian one. Masterchef australia is just amazing, and it's touching how everyone kind of become like a family. Love it.

Julia 18 months ago

Masterchef New Zealand is also super amazing - I even prefer it to the Australia one. The US version completely stinks

Jim 16 months ago

Its funny, I am Australian, but I watch the US version for a bit of a laugh and enjoy the brashness of some of the contestants. I agree that Gordon Ramsay seems to produce himself accordingly to whatever format he is appearing in (although even in Hells Kitchen he seems mellower that Season 1), but I do believe he is also a very skilled chef and Graeme Elliott's food is beautiful and also has a very valid opinion. I find it interesting of how the Australian contestants appear on TV compared to the US contestants. Most of the aussie contestants are also subordinate to the camera whereas the US contestants thrive on the camera.

nataliedavis 16 months ago

Masterchef Australia has it all over the US version. Sadly, I live in the US. I am quite skilled and would love a go at the title, but from what I hear, the American version is total fakery and all about showbiz. The likelihood that I or any talented home cook would get a fair chance is all but nil. Sad, sad, sad.

hannahstorer 16 months ago

The AUS and NZ version are very similar, with close contestant bonds and nurturing judges. The US and Canada version are tough to watch. The US producers fail to realize that drama and suspense is not just created by cheap conflict, but, as AUS has proven, by close personal bonds and allowing the audience to get to know REAL contestants. FYI - only 60 episodes a year now in AUS, I think 5 days a week, they now combine the last elimination of the week with the mastercless.

nataliedavis 16 months ago

The Canadian version, like the US one, is produced by Ramsay's One Potato Two Potato, hence their similarities. I like Canada's judges better, though.

Speeder 14 months ago

Hello! I came here because of Master Chef Brasil.

I really liked the show, but I was wondering if other editions are better, because some cracks started to show... it is not bad as the US show, but several of the issues are there, it looks way more "acted", and there is a particular participant that is not interesting at all (she cooks badly, acts badly, and her "drama" is boring) that is being kept repeteadly, some people suspect because she is the daughter of a infamous billionaire and maybe he bribed the TV station.

Also the australian one seems less tiring to watch, MasterChef Brasil don't have the "MasterClass" but it seemly has all the other content, and crammed in ONE episode, so all epidoes of MasterChef Brasil are 2+ hours long, sometimes 3 hours, it is very tiring to watch them entirely.

Claire T 8 months ago

I am currently watching US Masterchef and can honestly say the contestants are nowhere near the standard of the Australian Master chef. There are millions of people in America and the out of the final 8 in the competition only 2 would have made it through even the first rounds of the Australian Masterchef.... Overall standard extremely poor!

Chantelle 3 months ago


Found your article and just wanted to say that I totally agreed. The standard of Masterchef Australia is so much higher than that of Masterchef USA. I highly doubt that any of the contestants on Masterchef USA could have competed with the contestants in Masterchef Australia. I also agree that the judges are unnecessarily harsh on Masterchef USA, judging the character of the contestants in a way that is hurtful and plain rude.

Great article!

Mara 3 months ago

Hi there, as I'm totally addicted to Masterchef Australia and cannot wait for the next episode, I thought to fill in the gaps with Masterchef USA.

....what a BIG dissapointment.

What makes me a huge MC Australia fan is that the passion for food and cooking is the star of the show with the kind, professional judges and nice real contestants playing their part. It is really exciting to see how the contestants learn and grow and compete while being respectful of each other. The masterclasses are great and great fun to watch as well as educational.

All in all: a wonderful expercience.

Then: in comes Masterchef USA: I couldn't watch it beyond 3 episodes (hoping it would get better but it didn't). It feels completely fake, the love of great cooking and food is nowhere to be found, it is polarizing (having unfair additions like one kandidate gets to disadvantage another, picking teams which is embarrasing people). I find the show A CRYING SHAME and will not watch it again. Too bad.

Thank you for your great article, I completely agree.

john in cali 3 months ago

I watch a lot of MC; AU is the best. Even from early on you can tell the judges respect the contestants. It shows especially when each cook asks for a hug even as they are leaving. I live in US and have tried to watch MC US but there is no chemistry, no magic. Fire Gordon Ramsay and Graham might turn it around. MC UK tries but there doesn't appear to be a lot of good cooks competing, nevertheless, the judges show respect and that is the difference. Maybe Gordon Ramsay or the producers think Americans can't get enough of Gordon Ramsay and his temper and tantrums. We can, we have, and we're done with Gordon Ramsay.

ps I tried watching MC Dansk; low budget, no English subtitles but they still made me cry

Annie Booker profile image

Annie Booker 2 months ago

4 years on and this article is still valid and true. I watch (and rewatch) both shows. What I've noticed as well is the different levels of skill shown by the chosen contestants. This season the current crop of MC AU contestants had very high skill sets while much less so on the US version, where so far they've apparently had to be taught by Gordon and Christina to do basic stuff like jointing a chicken, filleting a fish and even baking a cake. I was rewatching Season 3 of the US one yesterday and on it they had Graham saying the contestants wouldn't be asked to compete against him as that would be completely unfair yet on the Australian version the home cooks have been competing against professional, well known chefs for the past 8 years (and several times, winning). Great run down. Sorry for the late comment. My sister just sent me the link to it.

Jacob 7 weeks ago

If you want to learn MC australia.

If you'd like to be entertained MC usa.

Suzie Q 2 weeks ago

Totally agree with your article and most of the comments, thanks for posting. I was Googling 'Masterchef Australia v Masterchef USA' because as a long-time fan of the Aus show I have just watched a series of the US version, thinking it might be good also. I couldn't believe how bad it was and wanted to know what others thought or if it was just me! Masterchef USA is shallow, bitchy, over-dramatised, with minimal emphasis on the cooking techniques and the food.

Masterchef Aus manages to combine a bit of drama / suspense / tugs on the heartstrings with loads of interesting and practical information about food and cooking. It's a wonderful format. I've learnt so much from that show and it has inspired me to try new recipes and ingredients. I also love that you get to know the contestants so well - even contestants who I didn't warm to initially have become firm favourites over the course of so many episodes. The judges too are lovely, I have huge respect for them and the way they willingly share their knowledge and support the contestants.

I also totally agree with various comments about the skill levels of the Aus contestants compared to the US contestants - the US batch seem to have been picked for their ability to create drama, they're generally not exceptional home cooks, and they seem to learn little over the course of the competition. Whereas the Aus contestants are all passionate about food and already have pretty high skill levels, which are then visibly augmented over the course of a series.

For me, Masterchef Australia wins hands down.

MarzipanPickle 4 days ago

Watched the first 10 episodes of MasterChef USA (series 3) recently, in tandem with watching the latest MasterChef Australia. My first time with the US version. Couldn’t agree more with your analysis Daniel. Or with comments that point out how inferior the skills of the US contestants are. By luck rather then judgment, I got down to ‘the final 12 contestants’ for both series in the same viewing week (Episode 36 for MCAus, but only episode 10 for MCUS). What the final 12 Aus contestants are doing compared to the US contestants is SO far ahead.

Already in MCAus, you can see several real chefs-in-the-making. In MCUS we’re seeing mostly Ok-ish home cooks who have hung on because of the drama they create rather than because they are honestly “the best home cooks in America”. There are cooks in the final mix who barely know the basics – eg, one doesn’t know what a raw duck breast is in a Mystery Box, one has never eaten (let alone cooked) a risotto, one has never made pasta, one wins a challenge to make it into the top 11 by cooking simple carrot soup and soda bread, etc, etc.

The procedurals are often out of whack too. For example, the creators of the two top dishes in some challenges get the ‘reward’ of being team captains in the next Team Challenge. Bear in mind that the Team Challenge always ends in one team being sent to an Elimination Challenge - how is that a ‘reward’ for the two who cooked the best the day before, when one of them is GUARANTEED to be facing elimination as a result?? Also because the US version is condensed into relatively few episodes, each challenge is knocked off and judged in just a few minutes of airtime, so it’s hard to assess how each contestant is faring or to learn anything. You don’t really get to see the techniques used or how they rectify their mistakes etc, which is something you see a lot of in MCAus.

The US contestants are encouraged to bitch, gripe and back-stab, you rarely see them helping or even being nice to each other. And the judges are nearly as bad, apart from Graham who is usually quite sweet. The judges almost never mentor or teach the contestants, unlike MCAus.

There’s no Masterclass and no regular appearances by top guest chefs (most top chefs worth their salt probably don’t want to be associated with it!) whereas on MCAus we regularly get to see and learn from international food stars like Heston Blumenthal, Marco Pierre White, Jamie Oliver, Massimo Bottura, Rick Stein, Antonio Carluccio, Nigella Lawson, Marcus Wareing, etc, as well as a host of up-and-coming new chefs.

I tried to give MasterChef US a fair crack of the whip, in case it got better, but I’m giving up on it now. Watching it always made me feel a little bit worse about humanity than when I started. I realised I was tuning in in the hope that someone mean would be kicked out (which they rarely were), rather than to watch respectful, talented cooks create some amazing food. Not a good feeling. I hated that the show manipulatively reduced me to the lowest common denominator as a viewer. Gordon Ramsay and the other US judges should be ashamed of what they’ve created – which is basically yet another horribly bitchy reality-TV personality contest. MCAus all the way for me!

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