http://movies.msn.com/movies/dvd;NEW ON DVD;|new on dvdhttp://movies.msn.com/movies/dvd/coming;COMING SOON ON DVD;|Coming Soonhttp://movies.msn.com/movies/dvd/scarymovies;SCARIEST MOVIES;|Scariest Movies on DVD
On Set: 'MasterChef' Gets Serious for Season 3
The kitchen heats up with killer cooks who know the game
By Deanna Barnert Special to MSN TV
MSN TV hit the "MasterChef" studio kitchen for the Season 3 dish, only to
have judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich turn the tables on us. The press
was subjected to a Mystery Box Challenge! As we sweated over what could possibly
be made with scallops, chocolate and corn, however, we also managed to get the
scoop on what to expect when the real competition returns to FOX on Monday, June
4, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
As fans know, "MasterChef" has tried to play nice with the contestants in the
past, especially when compared to, say, Ramsay's "Hell's
Kitchen," which deals with aspiring restaurateurs. This year's amateur
contestants, however, are on another level.
"We have some extraordinary cooks. Some amazing palates! I thought last year
was good, but this one is quite amazing," Gordon Ramsay told MSN TV. "These guys
are obviously invested in the program. They've watched it and outsmarted
everything we've done."
Faced with contenders who can handle the heat in the kitchen and know the
tricks of "MasterChef," the judges have been forced to add fuel to the fire and
shake up the challenges. "After each competition, we have to discuss how we're
going to tweak the next day's challenge," Graham Elliot revealed. "Things change
every day because they're literally at such a level you almost forget they're
amateur home cooks."
"There is not really the 80-year-old grandma baking a pie for the challenge.
This season it's, 'Here's a goat's head. Go make something,'" Ramsay added.
"We've become more intense. Not just on backs of the challenges, [which range]
from a box of awful to Michelin 3-star chefs turning up, from Alain Ducasse to Daniel Boulud to Guy Savoy to Paula Deen. We are putting them under the
spotlight like there is no tomorrow, and they can handle it. You see them come
up with amazing dishes and when you taste it, you can totally call them out.
'You know that's wrong! You totally overcooked it,' or 'You know you didn't
season that correctly.' It's just like your kids getting older: They know right
from wrong." In other words, the guys are not holding back this season. "We
don't tolerate crap and we don't suffer fools," Joe Bastianich warned. "In every
show, we'll call it like we see it. It's our job to protect bad food from
happening to good people."
So what's so great about this year's contestants? "MasterChef" upped the ante
by widening the pool of contenders to almost 30,000 amateur chefs from across
the country. That resulted in both a higher level of talent and a real
variety of backgrounds.
"You have everyone from a very privileged New Yorker who's been to all the
great restaurants to a single mom that's doing delicious food with carrots and
rustic ingredients," Elliot previewed.
That single mom has made cooking on a budget an art form. "She has a
2-year-old son and literally puts herself on $10 a day," Ramsay marvels. "She
bakes bread every morning. That's the crux of the attitude of the competitors
this year: so much more serious."
Another standout who had the judges talking was Christine, a blind contestant
who started losing her eyesight at 19. "She has been producing food that could
equally match any of our restaurants -- and that's not because anyone's playing
the sympathy card," Ramsay insisted. "This woman cooks like an angel.
Extraordinary. There's no disability. She feels her way around ingredients."
Other contestants include a stock broker, a professional opera singer, an
emergency physician, a food photographer and a plastic surgeon.
And this year's "serious" players aren't content with staying at the same
level. They're ready to work hard to improve their kitchen skills, and the
judges are happy to oblige.
"We've had more chances this year to actually mentor them behind the scenes,"
Ramsay previewed. "We have a digital kitchen, they go to classes every day and
we're open with demos, which is completely different."
"It almost becomes equal parts competition and a learning center
environment," Elliot said.
With the press Mystery Box Challenge still looming, the "MasterChef" mentors
went on to share their best competition tips. After teasing that we should run,
Ramsay told us to have fun and stay loose. "Don't lock down your idea in the
first 30 seconds. Let it travel a bit."
Bastianich reminded us that this was a competition, so we'd be wise to keep
an eye on what the other chefs are doing.
Elliot begged we not forget to season, season, season and use all of our
senses. "Listen. Is the pan hot enough when you put something in?"
MSN TV jumped into the studio kitchen and listened well. Sadly, the
"MasterChef" pan sizzled far too hot for this reporter. The ticking clock,
paralyzing indecision and probing questions from the roaming judges proved to be
very unnerving. Though my pasta was ruled perfectly al dente and well-seasoned,
my scallops weren't cooked through. Ramsay, Elliot and Bastianich were very
supportive during my review. They teased, cajoled and gave me a few tips for
next time, which was appreciated. Most cooking show fanatics would kill to be
caught in a chef blowup, especially one of Ramsay's. This fan, however, would
rather enjoy Ramsay's incredibly charming smile. Let the real "MasterChef"
contestants take the heat!