Why You Might Not Want To Be On MasterChef

A reality TV show that's loved by viewers globally can feel like the perfect launch pad for someone's culinary career. After all, it's supposed to give them the exposure they need and seems like the ideal way to explore different career opportunities. Unfortunately, some of these shows may not be as straightforward as they seem. According to a former "MasterChef" contestant, their time on the show was daunting and traumatic in many ways.

Writer Jessie Glenn revealed several surprising details about her "MasterChef" stint for Salon. She said that many stories go unheard because participants have to sign nondisclosure contracts before being on the show. They'e not at liberty to discuss what really happened to them. She added that if they choose to violate those rules, they can be exposed to scary threats against their loved ones. Glenn chose to apply to "MasterChef" because she was curious and wanted to be a part of the hype, but quickly realized that nothing was quite what it seemed on the outside.

The casting journey itself is stressful. It starts with an audition video where aspiring contestants display why they deserve a spot on the popular show. Next, they have to cook a dish for judges, who decide whether you proceed to the next stage. "If they pass you on, the next step is filling out reams of paperwork that end up coaxing a TV-ready backstory and a streamlined brand where, before, there was simply a person," Glenn wrote.

There's more to MasterChef than meets the eye

For Jessie Glenn, "MasterChef" was a bitter pill to swallow. She wrote in the Salon article that she had to take a psych test, which she reckons is a way for producers to figure out what kind of "dramatic" traits each person possesses. They basically want to find out whether the aspiring contestant can add any value to the show. She also had to speak to a psychiatrist, who questioned her on mental health. Post that, she spoke to a private detective. All in all, the process felt rather invasive. "I flew back home to Portland, Oregon, the same day I left and felt wild, violated and alive," Glenn recalled.

Glenn added that she didn't sign the contract because it felt too controlling. The producers somehow didn't realize this, and she made it to the first stage. It was clear to her that participants were assigned roommates based on their characteristics in a deliberate attempt to turn them against each other and create more drama. Glenn also wrote about the suicide of one of the finalists, Josh Marks, who suffered from mental health issues after the show. "It's impossible to discuss the experience of being a short-term reality show contestant without noting that some don't emerge from the experience unscathed," she wrote.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.