MasterChef is a television franchise unlike no other. A cooking competition that revolutionised food in entertainment becoming a household name with successful runs in several spin-offs, this is truly the best cooking show on TV. Originating in the UK in 1990, it has since then exploded, the most famous spin-off being MasterChef Australia. Close on its heel is MasterChef USA that also has wide viewership. However, they are poles apart and perhaps the only thing tying them together is the brand, MasterChef. Having watched both shows extensively and being a big foodie myself, I know a fair bit about both. Below, we will explore three major points of difference between the two shows.
This is the biggest point of difference. While the Australian show feels professional, genuine and educational, the American version leans more towards what I call ‘trash television’. The reason I say this is because the drama in MasterChef US often seems a bit too much, cooked up maybe? I’m not wrong though, in blog posts after coming off the show, Ben Starr from Season 2, suggested that much of what the audience sees is contrary to reality. In his words, producers got “exactly what they need out of the contestants”, as they “string it together masterfully in the editing room”. Moreover, the content of the US show is clearly geared towards a Reality TV audience that wants to be entertained, not inspired. There’s tears, drama, love, friendships, rivalries, everything!
On the other hand, MasterChef Australia is more down-to-earth, really focusing on the food. Here, we see the culinary world as a world of professionalism, art and inspiration. The content is so wholesome that you would never find it awkward to watch, even in front of your grandparents. All the bleeps and the food spitting on the US show may be too gross for them though.
The judges are also VERY different. On MasterChef Australia, we have George, Matt and Gary, three A-level chefs who mentor, guide, encourage and critique the contestants. The US judges are celebrity chef sGordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and restaurant owner Joe Bastianich. Let’s look at the major problem here: Joe is a rich restaurateur who isn’t a real chef. He doesn’t actually cook. An interesting fact about him- he was sued by his wait staff for 5 million for skimming their tips! Gordon is well-known for his tantrums from shows like Hell’s Kitchen (that made the term ‘twat’ famous) and his latest show, The F Word (F for food, F also for *bleep*). These judges spit food, throw plates and literally belittle contestants who make mistakes. This is very different from their Australian counterparts who are all about giving chances, helping their cooks to improve.
The contestants are what inspired this whole post. In the newest episodes of MasterChef Australia Season 9 (that is running right now), the contestants go on a road trip with the judges and Heston Blumenthal, British Celebrity chef who’s famous for his out-of-the-box conceptual cooking. In one episode, my favourite contestants Sam Goodwin and Callan Smith were paired together, they made two dishes. Sam’s was a winner while Callan’s was a chaotic disaster. They were both sent to elimination because of Callan. Now, in my mind, I was thinking Sam might be pissed off. He had cooked well after all. He went to elimination because of Callan! But, on his Instagram, the next day (yes, I follow him), was a post praising Callan despite that poor dish. I am not sure if this is good marketing (?) making me fall for this show and its contestants. If it is, it’s working. Anyway, I related this little story simply to highlight the fact that this would never be the case in the US show. They would capitalise on the fact that one was better than the other and there we see a budding enmity between teammates, some angry words said about each other maybe? I think you get the point. The US show has much more DRAMA.
The Final Verdict
By now, you may think the I like the Australian Version better. But I think it is really a matter of perspective and this post isn’t about which one is better. MasterChef Australia is amazing because you can learn so much and be so inspired by it. On the other hand, MasterChef USA is pure entertainment. If you’re the kind that likes to indulge in a bit of trashy and yet, startlingly compelling and amusing reality television, I think you will like this show. I find it very entertaining myself. MasterChef Australia, though, is for the ones who love food and people. This show is heart-warming and incredible, my personal favourite.