Gordon Ramsay's MasterChef Begins on Fox for 2012 Just In Time to Compete With the Next Food Network Star

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Anybody believes Gordon Ramsay's MasterChef beginning right in the midst of Food Network's "The Next Food Network Star" is a coincidence, raise your hand. I got a bridge to sell, cheap.

Only while Food Network offers their winner his or her own cooking show, Ramsay and Fox offer the new MasterChef a grand prize of $250,000. This isn't peanuts, we understand, but it's hardly the level of having one's own cooking show.

Also airing at this time is Ramsay's more infamous "Hell's Kitchen" , which I will be reviewing in the near future. I suppose that Ramsay figures if he throws all he has up against Food Network he might come within spitting distance of that famous food channel.

MasterChef features the same sort of cooking challenges as FN's Next Food Network Star or Bravo's Top Chef. In the case of MasterChef, as an observance, the contenders are really amateur cooks. The Food Network Star contenders are often professionally trained chefs, many of them having attended a classic cooking college. The Top Chef contenders are generally chefs that work in the restaurant/catering business. MasterChef contenders are those folks across the fruited plains who love to cook, who come from all walks of life, who want to win both the recognition of their cooking skills as well as that tidy sum of cash MasterChef winners receive.

I decided to do a little research into the judges on MasterChef as I often wondered who the hell they were and what was their credential to judge a cooking contest.

Gordon Ramsay is quite well known, being a host of the more famous Hell's Kitchen (though my review of this show sums it up rather tersely, check it out next week). Ramsay also hosts another show called "Kitchen Nightmares", also a Fox show.

Ramsay's rather questionable claim to fame is his well-known temper, a temper he uses on Hell's Kitchen that I don't see as flattering at all.

Graham Elliot is known to me mostly as the guy with the white eyeglasses. From the show's web site, we learn:
Chef Graham Elliot is the culinary mastermind behind Chicago's first "bistronomic" restaurant, Graham Elliot, which tempers four-star cuisine with humor and accessibility. In a very short time, the 33-year-old chef has accrued accolades, including Best New Chef in 2004 from Food & Wine magazine and three James Beard Nominations.

At age 27, Elliot became the youngest four-star chef in America. In May 2008, he opened the aptly named Graham Elliot, a restaurant that would not only bear his name, but become an extension of his passionate personality embodying his core principles of humility, courage, vision, respect and focus. Since opening its doors, Graham Elliot has beguiled the city of Chicago garnering two stars from the Chicago Tribune, two-and-a-half stars from the Chicago Sun-Times and one star in the 2011 MICHELIN Guide.

Joe Bastianich is the MasterChef judge with a snooty personality that does not impress me one bit. Again, from the show's web site, we learn:
One of America's premier restaurateurs, Joe Bastianich - along with partners Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich - has established some of the country's most celebrated restaurants in New York, including the legendary Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, Lupa Osteria Romana, Esca, Casa Mono, Bar Jamón, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria and the much-storied Del Posto.

Expanding their horizons beyond Manhattan, Bastianich and Batali opened B&B Ristorante and Carnevino in Las Vegas and Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. The beginning of 2011 marked their first overseas venture with the opening of Osteria and Pizzeria Mozza in Singapore.

In summer 2010, Bastianich again partnered with his mother and Batali, as well as Italian retail pioneer Oscar Farinetti, to bring Eataly, the largest artisanal food and wine market in the world, to New York. At its essence, Eataly embodies the philosophy and commitment of artisanal products that represent the finest quality, sustainability, affordability and responsibility.

Considered to be America's foremost authority on Italian wine, Bastianich operates three wineries in Italy and one in Argentina. In addition, he has authored several books on the subject, including the award winning "Vino Italiano" with Sommelier David Lynch.
The most interesting tidbit, to me, about ole Joe is that he is a partner with Mario Batali, who I know from Food Network and "The Chew".

The web site reveals a little more about Ramsay:
Scottish by birth, Gordon Ramsay was brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, from the age of five. With an injury prematurely putting an end to any hopes of a promising career in soccer, he went back to college to complete a course in hotel management.

Ramsay's first years in the kitchen were spent training under culinary luminaries Marco Pierre White and Albert Roux in London, as well as Guy Savoy and Joöl Robuchon in France. In 1993, Ramsay became chef of the newly opened Aubergine, and within three years, the restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars.

In 1998, at the age of 31, Ramsay set up his first wholly owned restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which was awarded three Michelin stars within three years of its launch and is now London's longest-running restaurant to hold this prestigious accolade. Over the next five years, he and his team launched some of London's most high-profile restaurants, including Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, Pétrus at The Berkeley, The Grill Room and MENU at The Connaught and The Savoy Grill.

MasterChef began with 100 contenders.

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On the first two audition rounds we met a chef who named her son Danger, a Chinese Gay guy and, unbelievably, a blind contender.

On the "boot camp" episode aired 6/11/12 there were more auditions, the field of contenders would be culled down to 36, to be further culled down to 18.

First challenge, cooking ground beef. Time limit sixty minutes/two pounds ground beef. Aside, husband/wife pair.

12 sent home right away, 12 immediately saved. 12 got a closer look.

Well some tasting and commenting needed to be done on camera.

Some dishes presented for the close up included from blind Thai basil beef, ranch stew with cornbread topping, beef and spinach curry with Israeli couscous.

Blind chef in top 18. Female half of married couple in top 18.

MasterChef can be seen on Monday and Tuesday nights on Fox at 9pm.

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