Top 10 Moments In Master Chef Reality Show that Stirred Up Controversies

December 13
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Top 10 controversies that MasterChef cooked up for us!

Let’s be real for a sec here. 90% of our lives are monotonous routines. Reality TV is the emotional escape that all of us crave and currently, there is so much for us to choose from. 

Reality television is one of the most popular genres of shows that we watch. There is something about the raw reactions we get from participants, judges, and the audience. Thanks to social media, the iconic moments of reality shows have also become memes. The spontaneity, the edits, the reactions, and the surprises make reality TV a great watch. 

One such show that is popular across the world, with each country having its own version of it, is the MasterChef franchise. While the show is devoid of extreme toxicity, it has had its fair share of controversial moments. This includes both backstage dramas as well as the conflicts that happen in front of the camera. 

Here are 10 of the most controversial moments that have happened in the Masterchef series.

1. Accusations of sexual harassment

After the 4th season of MasterChef America, contestant Marie Porter came out and accused the producers and judges of sexual, mental, and physical harassment. She claimed that her participation in the show pushed her into depression with suicidal thoughts. Soon after the allegations gained some traction, another contestant, Carrie Stevens, also came forward and supported the claims. Shine America, the company that produces the show, denied all claims made by Marie Porter and gave a statement saying that the contestants of the show are treated with the utmost respect and their wellbeing was always prioritized. We will never know, will we?

2. When a contestant committed suicide

Josh Marks was a refreshing addition to the third season of MasterChef - he came without any cooking background and was a gentle person who wowed the judges and viewers alike. He even ended up as the runner-up in the season and promised to follow his dreams of becoming a reputed chef. However, soon after the show ended, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he had panic attacks and heard voices. At one point, he also claimed that Gordon Ramsey had possessed him and made him a god. After a few altercations, he was put in jail and then given professional help where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. However, he spiraled within a few months and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

3. MasterChef Junior contestants

The challenges that come on MasterChef are hard enough to accomplish for adults with a culinary expert. But when the contestants of MasterChef Junior are able to pull a few of the harder challenges off, you can’t help but wonder if they are already informed of the challenges of the week. A father of one of the contestants revealed that the children are informed about the challenges weeks ahead of the actual tasks. It is also well known that MasterChef Junior is heavily scripted.

4. MasterChef UK judges and ignorance

The judges of the MasterChef show are extremely reputed in their countries. However, the judges of MasterChef UK came under fire for their ignorance of international cuisine. In 2018, viewers of the show slammed judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace when they criticized Malaysian-born chef Zaleha Kadir Olpin's chicken rendang. They dismissed the dish saying that it was not crispy and that it has sauce in the middle. Malaysian netizens were quick to rebuke their comments by saying that rendang is, in fact, not supposed to be crispy and that it should have sauce in it. What’s more, Opin was eliminated in that round due to the judge’s ignorance and that added to international outrage calling a more diverse judging panel in MasterChef UK.

5. Copying a contestant’s idea

In an immunity round in the 2017 edition of MasterChef Australia, contestant Sarah Tiong decided to grill her prawns in an open flame. She even mentioned the idea in passing to contestant Ben Devlin. After telling Sarah that it was a great idea, he went on to copy it himself. He came under a lot of flak for copying her methods especially after the judges complimented him on the way he cooked his prawns. To add salt to the wound, Devlin went on to win the challenge by one point. Even though the official Twitter handle of MasterChef Australia called him out for copying, MasterChef Australia did not release any statements following online outrage over the incident.

6. Killing animals on air

In a 2010 episode of MasterChef Australia, contestants were tasked with choosing and killing a live crab. Sheetal Bhagat, who is a vegetarian and practicing Hindu, revealed that it was against her religion’s morals to kill a living thing. Her extreme discomfort was very apparent and chef Gordon Ramsey even offered to kill the crab for her. Sheetal, however, refused his help and killed the crab even though it went against her beliefs. She ended up in the top 3 of the round but came under fire for not sticking to her beliefs.

7. Judges fired for stolen wages

Masterchef Australia, the most popular version of the MasterChef franchise, had to fire George Calombaris, Matt Preston, and Gary Mehigan who had been co-judging the show for 11 years. It came to light that George Calombaris had been underpaying his staff by about $5.4 million - the outrage that followed inadvertently forced MasterChef Australia to review its appointment of judges. In a few months, the franchise removed all three judges citing “commercial reasons”.

8. The train of curries

In season 11 of MasterChef Australia, Sandeep Pundit wowed the judges in his first round with Indian curries. And then his second round. And then his third. And then his fourth. He attributed his inspiration to his Indian roots and upbringing. However, netizens were able to quickly observe his trend and asked him to come out with more diversity. They even pointed out that he has an ‘ego problem’ with the contestants and his general approach to the tasks.

9. Jock Zonfrillo vs Asian food

Jock Zonfrillo came under fire during last season when he remarked that ‘Asian food doesn’t lend itself to fine dining.’ In a fine dining round two of the cooks, Laura and Emelia chose french cuisine and Khanh chose Vietnamese cuisine given his Vietnamese heritage. However, judge Jock Zonfillo commented that Asian cuisine is not ideal for fine dining. This brought him under fire from netizens for reductive statements about a particular cuisine.

10. MasterChef Junior Spain and sexism

In Spain’s MasterChef Junior edition, Victor was the only boy on his team. When the judges encouraged the contestants to clean up their stoves as soon as they finish cooking, Victor told 3.2 million viewers that girls were better at cleaning since they were genetically better at it. His statements left his parents flabbergasted and they responded by saying that the chores in their house were shared by both parents equally. 

MasterChef is a global success and whether we like it or not, it is a great source of entertainment and education. It has its highs and its lows but a few sprinkles of controversies just makes it a great watch amidst the uncertainty of our lives. What are your favorite moments from the show? Let us know in the comments below.