For all of you cooking programme fanatics out there (we're including ourselves in that number), the biggest few months of the culinary TV show calendar are coming up, with a brand new series of MasterChef starting soon.
We don't know about you, but we feel like we're caught in a constant cycle of MasterChef competitions, and we're not complaining at all. Just as we're starting to miss MasterChef: The Professionals being on our TVs and it's getting to the point where we can't even remember who won Celebrity MasterChef last summer, it's nearly time for the new series of regular MasterChef. The main difference, of course, between this series of MasterChef compared to MasterChef: The Professionals, is that all of the contestants are amateurs, meaning that there are likely to be a few more nightmares in the MasterChef kitchen.
In fact, there aren’t many things we enjoy more than watching stressed amateur chefs running around a warm kitchen, dropping things all over the place while discussing what we would have done differently if we were given the same invention test.
MasterChef has had its fair share of success stories in the past, proving that just because these chefs are amateurs doesn’t mean they can’t go on to achieve some pretty exciting things. Since winning the first series of Masterchef in 2005, Thomasina Miers has become something of a star, going on to write numerous books as well as setting up popular Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca. 2011 Champion Tim Anderson went on to work in the kitchens of both The Fat Duck and La Gavroche, before setting up his Japanese soul food restaurant Nanban, which has recently launched its second outlet in the highly fashionable Seven Dials Market.
What's changed this series?
As you may have heard, there has been a major change to the format of the show for series 18.
Previously, Gregg and John would watch the contestants preparing the food, then eat it at room temperature.
For this series, however, the contestants will prepare the dish off-camera. Then, Gregg and John will try the food hot. John has said, "It's as if we're eating at a restaurant."
When is the final?
8 pm, Thursday 5 May 2022 (BBC One).
How does the final work?
The finalists will have to push themselves to their absolute limit, creating the three best dishes of their lives for John and Gregg. Only one can win.
Last year, winner Tom Rhodes prepared a trio of oysters, ribeye steak with beetroot and watercress puree and a lemon tart to finish.
Unusually for shows of this ilk, there isn't actually a prize other than the trophy. That being said, the exposure often secures the winner a cookbook, job or eventually their own restaurant.
Who is still in the running?
Here are the lucky contestants who still have a shot at the top spot!
Radha is a law graduate, currently living in Bradford. She lives with her parents, her brother and her 14-year-old labrador Elsa.
"Although I’ve just finished a law degree, my heart lies in food. I only started cooking during lockdown as a means to alleviate some of the stress from my final exams at university. I haven’t been cooking for very long, but I feel like it comes naturally to me. I’ve always been creative, into my music and drama, so cooking allows me to use my transferable skills to show my creative flair for food. I’d love to see how good I am. I want to push myself to see how far I can take my cooking - by creating new ideas and delicious new recipes and competing against other cooks."
Olayemi is an HR project manager from Nigeria who has also lived in the Caribbean, now living in Harrogate.
"Traditional Nigerian cuisine is what I’m here to champion in the competition. However, my journey from Nigeria to the West Indies in 1995, then to the UK in 1997 has influenced my cooking in so many ways."
Ioan is a marketing manager from Wales, currently living in Salford.
"I have avidly watched it over several years, always thinking “I will apply … one day” – and here I am, I finally plucked up the courage! This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I want to demonstrate my passion, my ability to grow as a cook and most importantly I want to have fun. I am so excited being part of the MasterChef competition this year!"
Sarah is a marketing consultant from Inverness. She currently lives in Kinross and is married with two children.
She said, "I have wanted to do MasterChef for years, but I have an absolute fear of failure so that’s always held me back. There comes a point where you have to take a risk, so I bit the bullet and applied."
Pookie is a beauty salon owner from Solihull.
"I am Thai with Chinese heritage and although this has a huge influence on my cooking, I don’t limit myself to Thai-Chinese food. I like cooking international foods but love introducing my own style with all the foods I’ve cooked. Most of all I want my food to be flavoursome, delicious, fun and put a smile on people’s faces."
Eddie is a marine pilot from Yorkshire.
"My Indian heritage also plays a huge part in my cooking style. I love to cook the Punjabi dishes I grew up eating with my family. But my real passion is the great Mughlai cuisine: the historic royal dishes of Old Delhi, Lucknow and Hyderabad. I also love to combine classic techniques with Indian flavours, creating my own fusion."
Who were the other contestants this year?
Holly, 29 (eliminated)
Holly is a theatre director Poole who currently lives in London. She co-owns The Pen Theatre in South Bermondsey.
She said, "I think during lockdown I had the time to up my cooking game. I felt I was finally at a level that could compete, so wanted to give it a go."
Thomas, 60 (eliminated)
Thomas is an interior designer from Singapore, currently living in Windsor.
"I recently turned 60 and now it is about ticking off things from my bucket list - MasterChef is top of that list. I’ve cooked all my life but now want to take it to that next level."
James, 38 (eliminated)
James is a professional golf player from Sidcup. He is married with two children and lives in Kent.
"I’d say I cook a lot of British homely dishes, but I love learning new dishes. I mainly cook for my family, which includes two young children. I like it when we get a chance to eat as a family and I love making food fun for the kids. Masking different pastas, pizzas or baking some sweet treats is something they love getting involved with."
Farokh, 36 (eliminated)
Farokh is a drama lecturer from Iran, currently living in East London. He is married, and co-parents the "snackiest dog you will ever meet".
"I wanted to see if people whose job it is to think about food would like my cooking."
Amadeo, 32 (eliminated)
Amadeo is a senior marine officer from Naples.
Angela, 31 (eliminated)
Angela is a childcare worker from Huddersfield.
Dean, 41 (eliminated)
Dean is a multiple sclerosis campaigner from Portobello, Edinburgh.
Hannah, 27 (eliminated)
Hannah is a food supply manager from Liverpool, currently living in Stratford.
Mark, 34 (eliminated)
Mark is an accountant from Iloilo City in the Philippines, living in London.
Martin, 50 (eliminated)
Martin is a vintage clothing wholesaler from Scotland.
Zizi, 56 (eliminated)
Zizi is an IT business analyst from Derbyshire.
Evy, 38 (eliminated)
Evy is an artist living in Surrey. She grew up in central Poland before moving to Spain while studying architecture. She is married with two children.
"I grew up in Poland so my childhood was full of quite hearty Polish food which I still love to cook, but I now take inspiration from so many more places. I love trying to elevate my food to that fine dining level, with beautiful presentation. I guess that’s the artist in me."
Bhavina, 31 (eliminated)
Bhavina is a head of marketing from Birmingham. She now lives in London with her best friend.
"I grew up in a big family, with my mum cooking Gujurati (North West India) dishes. I like cooking traditional recipes that she cooked when we were little but also my own take on them - Indian food with a twist I guess you could say."
Jamahl, 27 (eliminated)
Jamahl is a recruitment consultant from Woolwich, currently living in London.
"The greatest thing about food for me is seeing how it brings people together. My friends and family all love eating my food so I want to see if the judges do too."
Oli, 31 (eliminated)
Oli is a wine merchant from Bristol, currently living in Walthamstow. He has also lived in Canada and UAE.
"I work in the wine industry so whilst I don’t work directly with food, I do work indirectly with it in many ways, wine pairings, the world of restaurants. It’s my day job but I love it and food and cooking is a natural progression from this. I want to now see if I can bring the two things together and take it to that next level."
Vanessa, 28 (eliminated)
Vanessa is a credit controller from South London. She lives at home with her family.
"My parents are Jamaican, my grandma was born in Costa Rica, and I have other relatives from South America and Asia, which influence and inspire what I cook. Those are my main food inspirations, along with the places I’ve travelled to."
Meg, 24 (eliminated)
Meg is a radio producer from Preston, currently living in Manchester.
"I want to show that vegan food can stand up there! There’s a misconception that vegan food can’t have the same amount of flavour as non-vegan dishes but I want to prove that plant-based food is just as delicious, if not more so."
Carly, 34 (eliminated)
Carly is a dental nurse from Sheffield. She is engaged and has five children.
"I’d say my style of cooking is intuitive. I don’t really follow recipes, I just go with the flow and cook by eye and taste. I love good hearty British food for everyday cooking but then often try something new if it’s a special occasion."
Darryll, 60 (eliminated)
Darryll is a stockbroker who lives in London, originally from Marlow.
Ibz, 23 (eliminated)
Ibz, who is a retail supervisor, grew up in Brixton but has family all over the world, including Georgetown and Guyana.
Jan-Paul, 34 (eliminated)
Jan-Paul is a fashion sales executive from London living in King's Cross.
Johnny, 40 (eliminated)
Johnny is a customer service manager from Birmingham, currently living in Tettenhall in Wolverhampton.
Michaela, 27 (eliminated)
Michaela is a market research director from Enfield, currently living in North London.
Nazya, 42 (eliminated)
Nazya is an NHS worker from Pakistan, who moved to England ten years ago. She currently lives in Bolton.
Sonu, 36 (left the show)
Sonu is a homemaker who grew up in Ahmedabad in India before coming to the UK when she was 25.
Ally, 28 (eliminated)
Ally is a property solicitor from Edinburgh. He lives with his partner Jo and their cat, Pippin.
He said, "I really wanted to test myself in a high-pressure environment and meet other like-minded home cooks who are as obsessed with food as I am. What MC fan doesn’t want a coveted MC apron!"
Has, 38 (eliminated)
Has is a police officer from Enfield. He lives with his wife Berrin.
He said, "Cooking has always been my way of relaxing from a pretty stressful and serious job. My friends all tell me my food has the wow factor, so it’s time to really put it to the test in front of the judges."
Joanna, 28 (eliminated)
Joanna is a social media manager from Enfield, who grew up in a close-knit Greek family. She said, " I know I can cook. It’s just a case of how well now and handling the pressure of that kitchen."
Leon, 35 (eliminated)
Leon is a bank manager from Swansea. He recently got married and has an eight-year-old daughter.
"I’ve watched Master chef for a long time and every year I’m sat there being a third judge! Whenever I cook for family and friends the feedback is always good - not just the polite friend feedback - honest good plate-licking feedback."
Niall, 57 (eliminated)
Niall is a retired headteacher from Belfast, currently living in Derry. He has three children and three grandchildren.
He said, "I’ve been wanting to do MasterChef for YEARS! If not now, when? You have to go for opportunities and make the most of them."
Stephanie, 36 (eliminated)
Stephanie is a social care partner from west London. She has an eleven-year-old son and is currently engaged.
She said, "My friends and family have been telling me for years to enter, they are always telling me how tasty my food is. It’s time I started to believe in myself and give this a go."
Tigi, 46 (eliminated)
Tigi is an insurance broker from Leatherhead, currently living in Dunfold, Surrey. He has is married and has two daughters.
He said, "I want to show my two girls that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I’ve been watching MasterChef for so long now, it was about time I put my money where my mouth is."
Clive, 50 (eliminated)
Clive is a school facilities manager from Chafford Hundred.
"I predominantly focus on Caribbean cooking but am happy to try my hand at everything, including Thai, Italian and Chinese cuisine."
"I take inspiration from my family, and the food I ate as a child but also where I have travelled to as an adult. I’d love to be able to elevate Caribbean cooking and bring it into a fine dining setting. This is what I hope I can show in the competition."
Haylee, 29 (eliminated)
Haylee is an events manager from London.
"My mum is Finnish, my dad’s family is Jamaican and I grew up in the UK so I am a Fimaican! My cooking is a combination of my heritage. I love the big bold flavours of Caribbean food but also the lighter touches of Nordic dishes," she says.
"I’ve always wanted to work in the food industry and competing in MasterChef is a way to see if that can become a reality. It’s a test of my skills and a test of how I handle the pressure."
Laura, 32 (eliminated)
Laura is a politics student from Bath.
"My mum is Sri Lankan and is a wonderful cook. I love recreating the dishes I grew up eating and those I’ve tried whilst visiting family in Sri Lanka. I have a 110-year-old cookbook that has been passed down in my family so I love working my way through that."
"Having been a single mum for a few years now, I wanted to finally do something for myself. Cooking for my friends became a weekly tradition. My friend encouraged me to send in the application and I ended up here!"
Lisa, 39 (eliminated)
Lisa is a cleaning business owner from Killearn.
"I’d say I’m quite a classical cook. I like cooking hearty dishes but in a fine dining way. I particularly love cooking with game, taking inspiration from the amazing Scottish produce I’m surrounded by. And any opportunity to make burgers and barbecue, I take it."
Paul, 53 (eliminated)
Paul is an ex-police officer, now builder, from Dorset.
"I love cooking a whole range of dishes from all over the world, and also traditional British dishes, all with the focus of packing a punch with flavour. Living on the coast I cook a lot of seafood and I also take massive pride in making really good sauces."
Rachel, 22 (eliminated)
Rachel is a beer bike tour guide from Belfast.
"I love using interesting ingredients. My dad once drove 80 miles to drop off some fresh nettles from his garden for me to cook with! My nana was a baker by trade and my mum is a fantastic cook. My fiancé’s mother was a chef in her younger years and she was definitely my main inspiration to cook."
Rishi, 26 (eliminated)
Rishi is a dentist from Harrow.
"I’ve been a vegetarian all my life and really want to showcase the potential that vegetarian and vegan food really has, especially with a fusion of pan-Asian flavours."
How many episodes of MasterChef will there be?
There will be 18 episodes over the six week period.
Who are the MasterChef judges?
Our favourite duo of Gregg Wallace and John Torode are back for another series and will be providing their esteemed opinions of the amateur chefs' dishes. They’ve been with us ever since the reboot of the show began in 2005 so it wouldn’t really be MasterChef without them.
Who won last year's series of MasterChef?
Last year’s MasterChef winner was 31-year-old Tom Rhodes from Manchester. Tom, who has loved being in the kitchen since he was four, beat fellow finalists Mike and Alexina to take the prize and become the show's seventeenth winner. After Tom won, he apparently continued to work at Nando's and says he aims to release a cookbook soon.
What are the MasterChef 2022 challenges?
While we don't know for certain, we're willing to bet this year's challenges will be in a similar format to those in previous years. The heats in last year's series began with five chefs cooking a signature dish to impress the judges. The judge's two favourite chefs were given MasterChef aprons, while the remaining three chefs had to cook another dish using their chosen favourite ingredient. The two best chefs were also awarded a MasterChef apron. In the final stage of the heats, the remaining four contestants had to cook a two-course meal for two former MasterChef contestants, before the two or three best chefs progressed to the quarter-finals.
The quarter-finals saw the winner from each of that week's heats cook against each other, following a brief given by a famous food critic, with only the best chefs progressing to the semi-finals. Week one saw Grace Dent asking for a twist on a classic dessert, in week two William Sitwell wanted a dish that reminded the contestants of a fantastic holiday, while in week three Jay Rayner asked for a dish with roasted stone fruit at its heart and then in week four Grace Dent returned looking for dishes inspired by global street food.
What were last year's Masterchef restaurants?
As with previous years, the contestants visited several of the best restaurants in the UK during the ‘real kitchen’ challenges and the finalists visited various international culinary hot spots.
Fancy your own chances on Masterchef? Applications may have closed for the upcoming series but they will soon open for next year's series. Here's everything you need to know about applying.