This year’s season of MasterChef has been a ratings success for Channel 10 with many viewers tuning in to watch judge Jock Zonfrillo’s final season, filmed before he died at age 46. The reality TV show revolves around a set of amateur cooks competing in a mixture of challenges.
While the contestants sometimes get to create dishes that are meaningful to them and cook from the heart, there are also technical challenges set by the judges. On Tuesday, guest judge and former MasterChef winner Emilia Jackson asked the group to replicate her famous choux pastry.
A professional baker took to social media to question what really happens behind the scenes during filming. In a MasterChef fan group, she asked if anybody knew how the amateur cooks were able to cook and bake from memory without mistakes.
The contestants aren’t filmed reading from recipe books during the episodes, giving the illusion that they all know what to do instinctively.
“This might be a stupid question, but I’d rather ask than not know the answer for the rest of my life,” she began. “I am a baker by profession. There are recipes that are baked frequently and obviously you know the ingredients and method by heart, but the ones that are not baked on a regular basis has me running kilometres a month to get my recipe books.
“Question is…HOW [do] the contestants memorise all their recipes and not make mistakes? I’ve been baking for 25 years and I sadly have yet to master that skill.”
Some MasterChef fans said it was something they had often thought about while watching.
“Not stupid at all! I love the program but have many questions,” one person wrote.
“I have always wondered that too…no matter which country’s version of MasterChef I’m watching,” another agreed.
“A question that I have always wondered. No one is that good that they can remember every recipe. I think MasterChef could come clean with this question,” a third chimed in.
“Apart from scrambled eggs, I need a recipe for anything to turn out and I've been cooking for 50 years. One contestant was asked to leave a few years back for using a phone for his recipe... If they don't use a recipe, how do they do it?” a fan asked.
However, some believe that the contestants are able to cook from memory and “instinct”.
“When I was cooking professionally & teaching cooking I knew all the basic recipes (including baking) by heart. Once you know the basics it's easy to apply variations!” one pointed out.
“A lot of cooks cook from instinct. I rarely use a recipe. As long as I can picture what I want and have a basic idea of basic ingredients I can usually achieve what I want. If you cook or bake a lot you memorise basic proportions,” another added.
Another popular theory floated by fans was that contestants do in fact have access to recipes, with eagle-eyed viewers spotting notebooks and recipe books underneath their benches.
“They have them written out and usually under/on the bench, just not within camera range,” a viewer revealed.
“Occasionally the camera pans around and you can see under their benches. Sometimes there are notebooks and recipe books under there. It’s hard to spot because I think they edit it out,” a second said.
Truth behind MasterChef challenges
It turns out MasterChef contestants are actually given the cooking challenges in advance. According to New Idea, the cooks are able to plan what they want to make ahead of time.
“Contestants are given the heads-up on the challenges/themes/recipes the night before filming, so they can research techniques and recipes,” a source told the publication.
The insider also claimed that producers can select certain contestants to discuss challenges with in advance as well.
“In particular, Poh [Ling Yeow] was told about the 90-minute Gordon Ramsay challenge,” they alleged. “Poh and the producers sat down to plot how it would play out on air, plus promos and publicity if she did the 90-minute cake. It worked out perfectly.”
Never miss a thing. Sign up to Yahoo Lifestyle’s daily newsletter.
Or if you have a story idea, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.