The untold truth of MasterChef

MasterChef, FOX's culinary competition show where chefs compete against one another in a battle to be the best, which stars Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi, Aarón Sánchez as the judging panel, has graced American televisions for eight seasons. The U.S. iteration is based on the original U.K. series, Masterchef, which ran from 1990 to 2001. Now, there are MasterChef spinoffs on the air in many countries around the world, including the U.S.'s version, MasterChef, and its kids competition show, MasterChef Junior.

There's a lot that even fans who watch each and every week may not know about the franchise. From surprise run-ins to what happens to all of the extra food on set at the end of filming each episode, here are the untold truths that MasterChef super-fans need to know.

Runner-up Josh Marks died of suicide in 2013

While competing on the third season of MasterChef, contestant (and eventual runner-up) Josh Marks was a runaway favorite and set to take the culinary world by storm (or, at least be quite the star in the Chicago restaurant scene). After the show ended, however, he experienced panic attacks, according to reporting from Chicago Magazine, with the first one occurring while Marks and his mother were in New York for the viewing party being held for the season finale. He was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder — and later, paranoid schizophrenia — and was experiencing occasional episodes of psychosis. Sadly, Marks died of suicide in October of 2013.

Casting producers asked contestant Suzy Singh for directions

Suzy Singh, the affable former neural engineer who competed on the second season of the show, first heard about this brand-new show called MasterChef, which was holding auditions at Le Cordon Bleu's campus in Chicago, essentially by accident, according to an interview with Michigan Avenue Magazine. Singh was practicing her sugar work for gingerbread houses when casting producers walked right in and asked her for directions. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

MasterChef Australia dishes judged on camera are tasted cold

Revenge is said to be best served cold, but what about food in cooking competitions? In an interview with Daily Mail Australia (via Daily Mail UK), MasterChef Australia judge (and Melbourne chef) George Calombaris said that by the time the dishes are evaluated by the judging panel, they're actually quite cold. Though the dishes you see on TV make your mouth water, they're not nearly as piping hot (which is when lots of foods are most appetizing) as they may seem. Fear not, though, the judges do get to evaluate the food as it's meant to be eaten — hot — they just do so off-camera.

The audition process takes months

Agonizing, right? You might think that after auditions are held casting decisions are made right away, or at least relatively quickly, but according to former cast member Elise Mayfield, who competed on season 5, after you audition in person, there's a bit of a waiting game as producers and the like move through all the different, finalizing steps it takes to put together the cast, as she told A.V. Club. Mayfield waited for about four months before being told she was being brought to L.A., at which point they gave her about 10 days' notice to pack up a few months' worth of clothes and get herself to Los Angeles. Wait, wait, wait, hurry!

They bring about 100 contestants to Los Angeles

If you think MasterChef producers only bring the finalized future contestants to L.A., you'd be mistaken. As season 5 contestant Mayfield mentioned in the interview with A.V. Club, they bring about 100 contestants out to L.A., where they're all put up in a hotel together. According to Mayfield, a lot of the contestants were outgoing and friendly, which made her experience making friends in L.A. a bit easier. 

Each row of contestants on MasterChef Junior has a medic at the end that you can't see

Kids and knives seems a little…dicey (pun intended), do they not? After all, the kids use knives as real and as sharp as the adult version of the show. Don't worry, in an interview with HuffPost, showrunner and executive producer of both MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, Robin Ashbrook confessed that each row of contestants has a medic you don't see, but that is keeping a close eye on the kids cooking. Safety first.

Contestants on MasterChef Australia get a weekly stipend

According to, contestants on MasterChef Australia get a weekly stipend to help offset any expenses they might have outside of the mansion where they all live during filming. That surely comes in handy!

The kids don't cut themselves as frequently as the adults

While, of course, cuts happen, especially when you're dealing with sharp knives, limited time periods, and lots of competition and pressure, it may surprise you to learn who's more likely to cut themselves. In an interview with Salon, culinary producer Sandee Birdsong said the kids cut themselves less often and challenge themselves (sometimes) more than the adults on MasterChef do. Sounds like the kids just might be able to teach the adults a thing or two.

One of the producers was a contestant on Top Chef

Not only is Birdsong a master producer on all manner of culinary competition shows, she was actually a contestant on one too. In that same interview with Salon, Birdsong said she competed on the third season of Top Chef. She was voted off second (she said everyone else's skills were much more advanced) and watched the remainder of the season behind the scenes, which is how she knew she wanted to be a producer on culinary competition shows. That just goes to show: you never know where you'll find your purpose.

The judges taste food at each contestant's station while they're cooking

Given that the food often hits the judging table cold, you might be happy to hear that the judges taste food at each of the contestants' stations around the kitchen throughout the competition. In an interview with Lucky Peach, MasterChef and MasterChef Junior judge, Chef Christina Tosi, the judges taste while the contestants are cooking so they have a better understanding of who's really doing well and who's struggling. The judges are more fair and balanced than you might think by just watching the show.

It can take hours before the contestants even start cooking

In that same interview with Lucky Peach, Tosi said introducing the challenge, going over the rules and regulations, even getting the contestants into the kitchen, can take quite a bit of time. You might think they all walk in, run over the challenge and rules, and begin, but the reality is, well, a little more mundane than that. There's a lot of waiting around, checking that everyone really does understand what's expected of them, and giving contestants a little time to remember things they might've forgotten amidst the stress of the situation.

There's time between "time's up" and judging to beautify the food

If you've ever marveled over MasterChef contestants' ability to present the most beautiful dishes you've ever seen, even under all the pressure and stress they're dealing with, you might be disappointed. In that same interview with Lucky Peach, Tosi disclosed that there's time between when the contestants have to stop working and when the judges will evaluate the dishes so that each contestant can make their dish picture-perfect. Pretty takes time, patience, and skill. It doesn't just happen.

They give the contestants cooking classes

While you might think each and every contestant is basically a professional chef, that's not exactly true. According to Daily Mail, they're all given some coaching when it comes to cooking techniques and how to tackle challenges. Hopes dashed.

The crew eats the leftovers

Have you ever wondered just what happens to all of the food left over at the end of a MasterChef challenge? After the contestants have prepared their dishes and the judges have evaluated them, what comes next? MasterChef UK host Gregg Wallace told The Sun that it all gets eaten up by the crew — some of whom carry their own utensils around with them just in case the opportunity to nosh should arise, which, at some point, on a culinary competition show, it most definitely will.