• OP ED: I auditioned for MasterChef USA, and it was rigged.

    By Herald de Paris Contributor's Bureau on September 29, 2017

    I auditioned for MasterChef USA along with a friend. This is what happened and what we evidenced. MasterChef does not take the best cooks, nor tall people. Do not go to an effort to make an interesting, difficult, tasty or well presented dish. Full stop. You are wasting your time.

    First, the good points:
    Everyone was treated well and respectfully by the show’s staff. We were given seats in the hotel conference room to wait. Unlike the MasterChef advertising claims, there were not thousands auditioning. This was in fact a good thing. The wait was shorter. Indeed, there were only apparently 200 scheduled on the day, and I doubt that many turned up, about half appeared to only. We were all given a number. The auditions were held in groups of 35 and we even had to wait 90 mins for 35 people to show up well into competition start time. Again, all staff were friendly and professional.

    And then, “It,” happened. The rig.

    Now not everyone noticed this, if anyone. It is just that professionally, in my day job, I am trained to pay attention to detail, as is my friend who was with me.

    A group arrived, 3 individuals, with a “V” written by their name tag number. They were given a front row seat.  After about 10 minutes or so, I asked a staff member what the “V” meant. She blushed hurriedly and said, “Don’t worry about that, that’s a different show or something, they’re doing something different.” Clearly the 3 men were not doing a different show and she was clearly caught off guard that someone had noticed the “V” let alone query her about it, blushing, fumbling through her words and lying through her teeth.

    We also noticed the loudmouth youth next to us who talked as though he was already through to the next round, when everyone else was nervously waiting.

    We were then ushered into the audition room – 35 of us, including the three men with a “V” after their audition number. We had 3 minutes to plate up. We did. Then the guest Chef Judge came around followed by the young Casting Producers. I noticed the other plates. This was important as it was clear later that cooking standard had no bearing on acceptance into the next round, and neither did personality. Rather, either lack of personality or tattoos  appeared to be the low benchmark required.

    First, the po-faced Judge came around, then the casting producers. Before the food judge had even finished judging the plates, we noticed the casting producers meeting directly in front of us, and arriving at their list of finalists. They already knew who was going through to the next round before the plates were judged.

    8 numbers were called. I looked back as I was leaving, and sure enough all 3 ,people with “V’s” were selected. This was rigged. Also selected was a girl whose plate had not even been judged yet, who cooked an insipid plate of white pasta, with virtually no sauce, and she herself zero personality. The three “V’ s” were also lacking cooking skills.  One literally just sliced smoke salmon onto baguettes; one plated a standard Greek sandwich and salad; the third,  hummus with tomato.

    Forget all the people, us included, who had gone to lengths to make complex dishes, transport them in heated bags, and plate them.  I should have stuck to my usual pasta or just made a cheese board, instead.

    Out of the 8 hopefuls picked, only 1 was worthy, the girl next to me, leaving 25 or so people with worthy dishes in the cold. The loudmouth youth who knew he was getting through and had gone through had made a basically unpresentable looking pasta as well.

    Not selected: The tall, street-wise gentleman who the Judge, forgetting himself, said out loud, “That tastes awesome.” Two charismatic, educated, tall, and stylishly dressed gentlemen with stunningly presented plates and awesome looking dishes; educated well dressed professionals with stunning plates;  original great looking dishes.  Also not selected: middle of the road uneducated housewives with, clearly, a knack for excellent cooking.  None one of them got through.

    MasterChef Australia, unlike MasterChef USA, welcomes the clean cut, the stylish, the professionals, the good cooks, the tall, the interesting lives and personalities, the accomplished, and yes – housewives … in addition to the tattoos and skanky. All sorts. Point being, MasterChef Australia does not discriminate against the professional accomplished and the talented.

    On MasterChef USA, out of the 8 chosen to go through, only one dish had significant merit. MasterChef USA was clearly going for short people, tattoos, lowest denominator, and lacking in any personality.  Now as a professional, I can tell you there were plenty of talented “Telegenic,” looking people overlooked and, telegenic dishes. Now to be telegenic you don’t have to be good looking, you just have something that sparks, but no – this show clearly did not want the talented, the skilled, the accomplished or telegenic. They wanted insipid, uninspiring and lowest denominator. Not only that, they had already pre selected who they did want.

    That’s not to say that any one of the 8 put up a dish that wasn’t edible, but they weren’t the most deserving and there were no marks for difficulty, complexity, taste, good presentation.

    This show is rigged, and the contestants were pre-chosen before any of us entered the door.

    You live and you learn.

    Now the Casting producers did tell everyone they may not get a call until November, December- 2- 3 months down the track, but clearly you are only on back up if any of the 100 they do select around the country fall through for contract or obligation reasons. Apparently, the contract is 80 pages so this can, and does, happen.

    Also getting through to the final 100 means more, “Auditions.” It’s only the final 30 who get into the final TV competition.  Don’t waste your time if you are serious about cooking.



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