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MasterChef USA: A Complete Failure vs. MasterChef Australia

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Official MasterChef Logo

Official MasterChef Logo

Where Did You Learn How to Cook? MasterChef?

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, which is 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.

1. There Was 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.

2. There Were 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.

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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

3. There Was Different 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

4. There Was a Difference in 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

JellyBean on May 31, 2019:

What I do not understand is that Gordon Ramsay was a guest chef on Masterchef Australia Season 10 (2018) for the the whole week. He reckons it's the best show, loves the content, admires the talented contestants, and watches every season. Doesn't he have any say in the US production? Why would he want to associate himself on the show if he doesn't agree with the content? It's the drama he likes - the show will never change!

JeanieCat on September 13, 2018:

Totally Agree! After watching the semifinals on MasterChef I just had to surf the net to see what others say about the franchise. I love MasterChef Australia so much. Such a great quality of competition. Then you look at the US MasterChef and it is such a dud. What would they or could they do in a Heston Blumenthal competition? They wouldn't have a clue! Maybe that's an unfair comparison but there is a huge disparity between the two competitions. I was embarrassed for Aron Sanchez who I very much like as I think the show demeaned him as a chef.

Luca on May 10, 2018:

Absolutely!

I'm a chef my self and I can see there are less and less people want to come in the industry... why? Because of people like Bastianic! He's just wrong! What make him think he can treat NOT PROFESSIONAL cooks like that? The MC Australia is the way to go a treat people to get the passion on the cooking! You need to guide people, compliment them and tell them off too but not umiliat them!

Being a chef is a beautiful thing but those kind of sell out chefs have no shame at all!

Rustytabitha on May 01, 2018:

Very well put; I agree with everything you said. The two are poles apart. The Australian version is easily my favourite programme on TV; with the American one my least favourite.

demi on February 13, 2018:

i believe masterchef australia is the best as the winners and finalists are much capable of cooking better things and harder challenges compared to us

Be on January 08, 2018:

Why do they cook wearing high heels and tight dresses which impede their movement on mc US? On the Australian version, they all seem to wear sturdy Pant shirts and clogs while cooking.

Mary on October 23, 2017:

I have watched both programs. MC USA doesn't hold a candle to the Australian version. I find I can't wait for the next program, tape them all...have watched some episodes more than once. The contestants are sooo talented and I love the spirit of comradery in the kitchen. How they support and encorage each other. They all have a dream. The judges are fair... the competition is fierce...the level of contestant is superb. I'm worried that now that the 2015 season, has just finished on Gusto, that will be the end. Waaaa!. Please say it ain't so. It was the 14/15 shown recently on Gusto and I am hoping they will show the previous seasons for us to enjoy. I have learned so much abt flavour and technique, it has reignited my love for cooking. After having fussy eaters to satify for years I am experimenting again. Finding myself joining in on the theme song, I look forward to each and every episode.

Siggi on October 17, 2017:

I live in Canada and have been watching Masterchef US and Canada for a couple of years. I have had some problems with it, thought I thought the Canadian version was better. Then I stumbled on Masterchef Australia 2015 and what a difference. I absolutely loved it. Loved the judges and the how the contestants were so different from the North Americans. They genuinely liked each other and supported one another. You just don't see that in the North American versions. It was beautiful to watch. Those people were so likeable that it was hard to have a "favourite". This is what people should be watching instead of shows promoting dislike and hate for others. Bravo Australia!

Shane on September 09, 2017:

I totally agree! Masterchef US tends to promote bullying,both from judges and co-competitors

Luigi on September 09, 2017:

I have to completely agree. Masterchef US made me hate the series, whereas Masterchef Australia redeemed the brand completely. They are leagues apart.

Bessy on August 25, 2017:

I am Dutch, like others here. If I am not mistaken, they cancelled the US version. Jeez, what a horrible, loud show. I even stoppen whatching Discovery channel, because they too... Uhhh. The drama and competition on so vallend scripties reality shows is awful.

Mikiga on August 06, 2017:

Agree. Masterchef US is nothing compared to the Australian one. Looks fake. Judges are downright rude and don't give enough advice. Instead of encouraging the contestants and giving constructive criticism, they break them down and belittle them. They also set challenges in a way that would turn contestants against each other, for example 'Choose the 7 cooks that you think is in the bottom.' Why would you do that? In Masterchef Australia everybody competes against each other, but they also support each other, is happy when someone does well and sad when someone leaves. It's good quality tv, whereas the US version feels like a reality show that has been overdramatized. Nah, I'll stick to the Australian version. Feel good, uplifting and educational. US version is nothing but a circus.

Rog on May 31, 2017:

Great article! I felt the same too. What I like the most in MasterChef AU is that the contestants are respecting each other, especially in the invention test. They always applaud and congratulate each other, they really form great bonds not only among themselves, but with the judges too.

JustaTexasMom on December 29, 2016:

I'm not sure how it was that I stumbled onto MasterChef: Australia, but what a fantastic show. I have even started a notebook of recipes that come from MasteClass. There is NO comparison betweenAustralia and the US version. The US version should be canceled or the judges fired and replaced with others who exemplify good cooking and honest desire to help home cooks to improve.

Gordon Ramsey & crew should step down off of their platform(being above the cooks) and take a few lessons from Gary, George & Matt.

I LOVE watching MC:Au. MasterChef: Australia is what Great Cooking series is all about. I hope that it continues for a long time. There is a reason why it is the #1 Cooking show in the world.

MarzipanPickle on October 21, 2016:

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!

Suzie Q on October 11, 2016:

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.

Jacob on September 02, 2016:

If you want to learn MC australia.

If you'd like to be entertained MC usa.

Annie Booker on August 16, 2016:

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.

john in cali on July 20, 2016:

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

Mara on July 09, 2016:

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.

Chantelle on July 03, 2016:

Hi!

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!