MasterChef Season 10 premiere review: Let the auditions begin!


In this review of the premier episode of MasterChef Season 10, we get a taste of the things to come in this celebratory anniversary season. We also see a number of hopefuls win the chance to compete.

This season looks to be thrilling! We will see famous guest judges like Masaharu Morimoto and Nigella Lawson. Top contestants will, for the first time ever, travel to London where they will take over Gordon’s flagship, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, and they will also cook for royalty.

I don’t know which one is more pressure. Of course, they are also competing for the MasterChef trophy as well as 250,000 dollars to make their culinary dreams come true. Beyond that, the winner will receive training in a restaurant owned by each judge.

We start with a literal bang. As the hopefuls stand in the courtyard of the MasterChef kitchen clutching their bags of groceries, a helicopter lands. Out step the judges and then fireworks burst behind them.

They walk toward the contestants as fireworks keep pace on each side. It is all very dramatic and I can’t imagine the excitement those contestants must feel as the judges approach.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Judge Joe Bastianich, host/judge Gordon Ramsay and judge Aarón Sánchez in the “Season Premiere” season premiere episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, May 29 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne / FOX.

The judges remind everyone of the prizes and then introduce past winners- Shaun O’Neale from Season 7, Christine Ha from Season 3, and Jennifer Behm from Season 2.

For all of them, MasterChef has been life-changing. Jen now has three restaurants. Christine just opened Blind Goat, a modern Vietnamese gastro pub. Shaun is starting a residency at the new MasterChef restaurant in Dubai.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Past winners Jennifer Behm, Christine Hà and Shaun O’Neale in the “Season Premiere” season premiere episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, May 29 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne / FOX.

There are twenty aprons available to be won. This year, all three judges must say yes to earn an apron. However, each judge now has a “battle pass.” This fancy looking black card can be awarded to a cook to allow them to compete one last time for the final apron. That means we will have three people competing for the final apron, each one deemed worthy by one of the judges.

One by one, each contestant will have forty-five minutes to complete a signature dish. As they cook, they have their family and the audience to cheer them on as well as the past season winners. First up are Alan and Sabina. Each offers an internationally inspired dish with Alan presenting his Filipino heritage and Sabina her Russian background. Sadly, both dishes need seasoning and neither one gets an apron.

Dorian is introduced next. She receives an official full name announcement on screen as well as a lot more screen time, so I am pretty sure she will get an apron. Dorian, a forty-five year old from Georgia, had her first child at eighteen. She needed money, so she worked in fast food. She now works at a carpet mill, but you can tell that it is soul crushing for her. She tells us that sometimes, she can’t sleep because she has an idea for a dish and needs to see it on a plate.

The judges are normally behind closed doors, awaiting dishes, but Gordon decides to go have a look at the action. Dorian is beside herself to meet him. As she plates with a shaking hand, I only hope that Gordon hasn’t unnerved her too much.

She tells us she has “been working toward this moment all my life. It’s either now or never.” She presents her family’s favorite drunken chocolate cake with hazelnut toffee and vanilla bean anglaise. As Gordon tastes her crème anglaise, he asks her, “did you taste that?” Uh-oh.

Aaron gives Dorian her first yes, followed by Joe. Gordon says, “clearly there’s passion on that plate but I’m going to be brutally honest. There’s one ingredient there that you didn’t need to make. So for me, it’s a no…” At this point, I doubt my reality show intuition that she will get in. He continues, “to the crème anglaise and a big fat yes to the apron.” Gordon makes up for messing with her by hugging her and tying her apron on for her. As she leaves, the judges go back to eating the cake.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: A contestant with judges Aarón Sánchez and Joe Bastianich in the “Season Premiere” season premiere episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, May 29 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne / FOX.

Next we meet Liz, a fifty-three year old seeking a new start after a bad divorce. She has made a Mediterranean red snapper dish which earns her an apron. We also briefly meet Nick, a twenty-two year old college student who has taken time from his senior year to compete. He surprises me by making delicate lamb ravioli with crème fraiche and mint oil and earns his apron.

The show was frustratingly not always good about naming contestants. We “meet” Keturah, though I don’t think they ever provided her name. I wrote her in my notes as “too many ruffles.” Bless her heart, but how does she cook in that ruffled cocktail dress? She presents a Afro-Caribbean take on bibimbap with beef bulgogi which sounds awesome. It must be, as she wins an apron too.

Now is the time of the show in which we meet some of the whackier contestants, though none of them are introduced by name. One gentleman presents his bread pudding and then yells and does some karate moves. His bread pudding is deemed to taste like a soggy croissant.

Another guy waves his raw bone-in ribeye at the audience. “Who loves a bone-in? I want a bone-in,” he yells. For presentation, he has cut the meat off the bone and cubed it, and then reassembled it like a puzzle next to the bone on the plate. It’s the weirdest thing. Not only that, but the meat is not cooked properly, with lots of unrendered fat.

Even weirder is the excited, giggly man who presents a cannoli siciliani. But it looks nothing like a cannoli. Instead of a tubular shell, there are two circles of pastry standing upright on his plate, surrounded by pools of filling. I have no idea how you are supposed to eat it other than like chips and dip, but there is way too much dip.

He explains, “cannoli is this dessert to celebrate the male genital.” Aaron’s eyebrows shoot up to his hairline. “It’s very masculine. I want to give it back to the female population.” As a woman, I can say thanks, but no thanks. Also no thanks to Joe calling it a vanolli. Sadly, his dessert is not good and his face falls.

Not surprisingly, none of these three were awarded aprons. Aaron tells us, “it’s gonna be a long season.”

MASTERCHEF: Host/judge Gordon Ramsay (R) with a contestant (L) in the “Season Premiere” season premiere episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, May 29 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne / FOX.

Back to less unusual contestants, we meet Subha, a fifty-four year old research and development director from India, now living in New York. I am surprised to hear he is making a Cajun dish. He explains that, when he first came to America, he lived in New Orleans so this is a tribute to that. His family is with him, including his mother who is eighty-four and travelled all the way from India to cheer him on.

He presents his chicken and sausage jambalaya with a side of raita, combining Indian and Cajun. I am at first confused by the presentation as it appears to have a pastry lid. Gordon says he has stuck a biryani lid on it. I’ve had biryani, but I’ve never had a pastry lid.

The judges taste the dish and then ask if his mother has tasted it. When he says no, Gordon goes out to get her. His mother is just about the cutest lady ever. She tells Gordon, “back in India, we don’t allow men in our kitchen. That’s a woman’s duty but he won’t listen!” She tastes the dish and states that it is “very great.” When asked if he deserves an apron, she says, “he deserves it and you’re going to give him.” Not ones to argue with the cutest mom ever, all three judges say yes to the apron.

Kenny, a forty-six year old carpenter, is very clearly a proud Italian-American from Boston. His great-grandparents came to America from Naples and Sicily and the family continues those food traditions. Also, he actually says “ba da boom ba da bing.” Aaron and Joe come out to see the action during his cook and he fan-boys over Joe. Joe listens to his dish and teases, “let’s start with the proper pronunciation. What kind of Italian do you speak?” He leaves him to finish, telling him “good luck, Italian Stallion.”

Kenny tells us he is ready to hang up his hammer for a spatula and explains his love of food to the judges. He has a boat with a fork, spoon and knife painted on it and the saying, live to eat, in Italian. The name of the boat is the “Hey ma, what’s up” because when he goes home, he goes to the fridge and says “hey ma, what’s up with these chicken cutlets.” His New York strip braciole with vegetable risotto wins him an apron.

We briefly meet Sam, who can join too-many-ruffles in inappropriate kitchen wear as he cooks in a suit and tie. He makes cold steak salad with herbs and fried shallots, the first dish he made for his now wife when she was “not that interested.” It worked on her and it works on the judges as he gets his apron.

We also briefly meet Jamie, a tournament fisherman, whose knowledge of fish helps him make a redfish and shrimp couvillion with a crawfish cream sauce which wins an apron.

We spend a bit more time with Sarah, a thirty-one year old former army interrogator. I can only assume you don’t want to be on the bad side of someone with that job title. Having just got out of the army and with three kids under three, she is finally taking time to do something for herself. She tells us, that while in the army, cooking and food was one consistent thing for her. She has picked up a lot of flavor profiles in her travels and her herb crusted rack of lamb with fondant mashed potatoes and pea puree has good flavor. Joe thinks the lamb is a little rare, but Gordon says it is spot on and that he has cooked more lamb than Joe. She earns an apron.

Finally, we meet Micah. My heart breaks for this young man. He is just nineteen and works as a kitchen porter. He stands at his station alone with no family cheering him on. He explains that his dad really wanted him to go to college and when he instead chose to go into cooking, it broke his dad’s heart. “When I told my parents that I’m going to audition, my dad told me to expect the locks to be changed when you come home. I love them so much but nobody’s going to hold me back from my dreams.”

Sadly, his dish does not reflect his passion. He makes churros with Aztec chocolate. The judges consider the dish too simple, and Aaron feels there is too much chili in the chocolate. Joe and Aaron both say no to the young man. Gordon, though, sees his passion and wants to give him another chance. Gordon uses his one and only battle pass to give him another chance to make something more ambitious.

Watching this episode, I am fascinated by the differences in family reaction to a desire to cook. Sometimes it is not considered culturally appropriate, or appropriate for your gender, or a valuable career choice. For others, cooking is considered an outlet for artistic and creative expression or a form of love and family connection. It’s an interesting reminder of just how much food can mean to individuals, families, communities, and cultures, far more than simple sustenance. I think the complexity of food is wonderful, and it’s why I am proud to write for Foodsided!

light. Related Story. MasterChef Junior: Who made the finale?

Nine of twenty aprons have been distributed and one of three battle passes so odds are still good for the remaining contestants. Stay tuned!