Masterchef US vs. Masterchef Australia: A Comparison

If you’ve been following my Trakt profile recently, you’ll notice that I’ve been binge-watching Masterchef Australia, and for good reason.

Masterchef Logo

I was constantly told to watch Masterchef Australia because it was signficantly better than Masterchef US. But I never got round to doing so until recently. I guess part of it was that I wanted to stick with US TV shows as a knew what to expect. I also enjoy Gordon Ramsay’s presence on the show. This was another deterrent to Masterchef Australia: I didn’t know the chefs on the show.

However, after watching Masterchef Australia, I can say, hands down, it is far superior in quality than Masterchef US. I’ll go over the differences (and there are many!).

First and foremost, you’ll notice that Masterchef Australia has a siginficantly larger episode count than Masterchef US. While Masterchef US lasts around 20 episodes, Masterchef Australia goes on for at least 50 episodes. Usually, it breaks the 60 episode mark. The reason for this is that the show actually airs every single day, and takes place over the span of several months.

The format of the shows are very similar. Both shows have a Mystery Box challenge, a Team Challenge and Pressure Tests. They both also have Invention tests (although Masterchef US doesn’t specifically refer to them as that). However, there is a significant difference in difficulty between the Pressure Tests in the Masterchef US and the Pressure Tests in Masterchef Australia. The Pressure Tests in US look like a joke compared to Masterchef Australia’s Pressure Tests.

For example, in Episode 7 of Season of Masterchef US, the pressure test was basically to break down a chicken and then make fried chicken. In contrast, here is the dish the constestants had to make (they got a recipe) for Masterchef Australia.

Masterchef Australia Pressure Test

The kicker is that everything (except for the base and the plate) are edible. The string is edible, and so is the balloon. The one thing I noticed is that Masterchef Australia does not seem to focus on butchery skills as difficult tasks. They just expect contestants to know how to break a chicken, fillet a fish, etc. There is a clear difference in skill level between the shows. While the pressure tests in Masterchef US don’t last more than a couple of hours, Masterchef Australia pressure tests can last more than four hours.

In addition to the challenges in Masterchef US, Masterchef Australia also has an immunity challenge. This is a challenge where a contestant has to cook off against a professional chef for the chance of immunity. An immunity is basically a get-out-of-jail-free card for an elimination round. I find these challenges to be particularly fun to watch because of the presence of a professional chef. Watching them cook is like a performance in itself. While at a glance, it may not seem fair, but there have been contestants to beat professional chefs when making a dish. Not easy, some of the cooks have succeeded.

Lastly, Masterchef Australia has Masterclasses – my favourite part of the show. The judges (two whom are chefs and one food critic) actually teach the contestants various techniques, give them recipes and cook dishes in front of them. I have flamed critics in the past for not knowing what they’re doing, but Matt Preston’s part of the Master Classes are my favourite. He portrays himself as this simple “non-cheffy” person. So, he comes up with very creative, clever and interesting hacks for cooking without the most advanced equipment.

The people also make a big impact on the quality of the show and this is a point I would like to elaborate on in particular detail. Firstly, the judges. The judges in Masterchef US are usually harsh when a dish fails, condescending to a certain extent and flat out intimidating. However, the judges in Masterchef Australia are a lot friendlier, kinder and just have more respect towards the cooks. They offer not only advice and support, but useful advice on the dishes presented to them. They look for the good points of the dish.

I feel that this has a positive effect on the contestants. It encourages them to try out new dishes and further their skills as cooks. I’ve seen terrible dishes get put up, and the judges realize that. But never are they condescending towards the cook. They offer advice on how to improve. They make a point to focus on the good parts of the dish (regardless of how few there are). This is how useful feedback is provided.

I’ve watched episodes where a contestant would literally break down in the middle of a pressure test. A judge would come over and clean up their workspace so that they could carry on. That level of humility speaks to the quality of person judging the food.

The cooks themselves also have different personalities when it comes to comparing the shows. I find Masterchef US to be filled with drama queens, people will an alpha-male syndrome and people with a God-complex. I’m not sure whether this is a cultural thing, or if the editing was done that way to make the show fit into the “reality TV” category, but I’ll often see Masterchef US cooks talk smack about other cooks. You never see this in Masterchef Australia. The one time in happened in Masterchef Australia (and that was in Season 1, during the auditions), the contestant was promptly put down by the judges, who explained to him the important of humility when cooking.

In fact, quite the opposite, you’ll see people supporting each other,¬†their own competition, because they have that innate sense of respect for each other. This could because throughout the course of the show, they live with each other in the same house. But I think we need to give credit to them just being better people. I’ve seen elimination rounds in the US version where people get thrown under the bus, where their fellow team members would vote them to participate in a pressure tests because they let their team down.

In Australian version, people would fight to be in the elimination. This was simply because they believed they could have done better and they believed that they deserved to be in a pressure test because others did not. They wanted to protect each other dreams. I’ve also seen an episode of Masterchef Australia where one contestant eliminated¬†himself so that the other two contestants could carry on and maybe achieve their dream. That level of integrity and respect is unseen in Masterchef US. He said that he already had a fortunate life, and that by removing himself from the competition, they may have a chance to improve their lives.

As a result, I find Masterchef Australia a lot more pleasant to watch. It is very difficult to vouch for someone to win because everyone is so nice, talented and deserving. When you see a group of people who have such a great amount of respect for each other, who care about each other deeply, it is very easy to empathize with them. For Masterchef US, my philosophy is to vote the one who is least of a douche.

Masterchef Australia is a lot more emotional, and the contestants are significantly more likable. There is a lot of crying, a lot of laughing, and is an outright better watching experience. Combined with the panel of great judges, who not only care about the quality of food, but the wellbeing and the happiness of the contestants, it is definitely a show to watch.

I intend on dropping Masterchef US once this season ends and I don’t think I’ll ever look back. Masterchef Australia is just infinitely better. It has better judges, better contestants, better food and is a better learning and watching experience.

Edit: As this post appears to be fairly popular, you are very welcome to post comments. However, please keep comments respectful. Thank you.

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9 Responses to Masterchef US vs. Masterchef Australia: A Comparison

  1. Rachael AD says:

    Yes, MC Australia is a far superior version of the show. The contestants are extremely nice, talented and professional. When it got down to the final 6, I found myself hoping they could all win.

    Sadly, this is not the case with the majority of MC US contestants. MC US is often about the contestants snubbing each other. I have never seen that type of behavior on MC Australia which is all about professionalism and skill. If these shows were the only reference I had for the two countries, I would never want to go to the US and I would love to go to Australia.

  2. Sivabhaskar S says:

    Nicely put article! I have always hated Gordon Ramsey and his douche bag attitude, using swear/cuss words and all in a cooking competition. I guess his bullish nature is what that rubs off on the other 2 judges. Here in India, the premier English entertainment channel (STAR World) just completed airing the latest season (2017) of MasterChef Australia last month. As you could imagine, watching the adorable Malaysian home cook Diana Chan beat the ‘Ice Cream Man’ Ben Ungerman (who made Ice Creams in almost all of the episodes, including the Grand Finale :D), was a revelation. Then, STAR World started airing the latest season of MasterChef US in the same time slot. Can you guess how many episodes I would have watched? If I remember correctly, I switched the channel 5 minutes into episode #1. On the following days though, I had the displeasure of watching it while surfing channels, exactly 2 or 3 minutes each time. And every unfortunate time I did, I only saw either of these two things happen. Judges yelling at the contestants. Or the contestants themselves cussing in bad language. Now I wouldn’t know what those exact words were. They beeped them out here!

    • Riri says:

      I honestly don’t fault Gordon for cussing. In Hell’s Kitchen, he’s looking for a head chef for one of his 5 – star restaurants, amongst these pretentious, god – complex people who claim they can cook everything and believe what they’re cooking are the best, when in turn they fail to cook even a single plate of steak or pasta. In Masterchef US, it’s the same thing. Everyone just thinks they’re above everyone, but then present the judges sub par dishes. Who wouldn’t be mad about that? Same thing with his other shows. Now compare that with Masterchef Junior, he’s way gentler because he knows the kids are still learning, the kids know they’re still learning, and it’s okay if they make a mistake, especially because they’re still humble enough to acknowledge their errors. He consolled a girl who cried because she ruined her cake mix, he praised so many creations made by the kids, and he even joked around with them. Not just kids either, there are so many times where he sides with the staff in the hotels/restaurant he was called to assist on Kitchen Nightmare and Hotel Hell, because he knows that often time, they fail because of the lack of care displayed by the owners. Often time he’d tell the chefs whose creativity were curbed by the owners to cook their own meals to show the owners how wrong they were to micromanage everything to hell while feeling proud that they’re offering sub par meals. He praised their dishes too.

  3. Rowena says:

    If I ticked off all of the valid points you made regarding the differences between AU and USA, your post would be riddled with check marks! Yes, yes, and YES! I’m an American overseas, but I only watch, WILL ONLY watch the Australian version of MC. I’m kinda anxious about Ramsay (bleh) making an appearance this year, but at least I won’t actually get to watch him when the episodes go live. MCAu airs in Italy around 6 months later and it is always dubbed, so I rely on social media, recap blog posts, etc. to get the gist of what went down during the show’s run.

  4. Andy says:

    Very nice article, thanks. I completely agree with you.

    I’m English, so my first experience of Masterchef was naturally the UK version, which is the most modest and understated of all of the various versions I’ve seen yet and I find it really enjoyable for what it is. However, Masterchef Australia is just bigger and better and overall, a much more epic and involving experience. Masterchef Australia is unparalleled anywhere in the world as far as I know, I think it is easily the best version of Masterchef anywhere out there.

    Unlike many of my fellow countrymen, I have no special bias against the people of the US but with that said, I have to say that Masterchef US is definitely the worst example of the franchise I’ve ever seen, closely followed by Masterchef Canada, which follows virtually the exact same model as the US version, except the Canadian judges are slightly less mean-spirited (only slightly though). Having said that, they all lack enough charisma to competently front the show, which in the end, only aspires to be as good as the horrible US version anyway, so it was conceptually doomed from the start. Point being, I would not recommend Masterchef Canada to anyone either as it also makes for awful viewing.

    On average, the quality of the cooks on Masterchef US and its Canadian counterpart are consistently of a much lower skill level than I’ve seen on any of the other versions of Masterchef so far. By the back-end of the competition in the Australian, UK and even New Zealand versions, the last handful of contestants standing have gotten to a point where they’ve honed their skills and are producing consistently amazing food, challenge after challenge. They will have had to master both savoury and dessert along the way. It feels like the last one standing at the end truly deserves to be called a ‘Masterchef’.
    In contrast, the first ever winnner of Masterchef Canada (Eric something) was constantly messing up and making errors all the way up to (and including) the finale and was still somehow deemed to be the best among them and crowned champion which was a complete travesty and a joke (the other finalists were also making constant errors throughout the competition). Not only that but the guy who won was a complete arrogant d*** and not someone I want to see win a vast sum of money, or gain such bragging rights for undeservedly being crowned Masterchef. I’ve seen similar things in the US version too, such as people making it into the final 6 of the competition who cannot even make an edible omelette! These versions are definitely less about the food and more about the (usually fake) drama and the egocentric judges themselves.

    As shows, they don’t even deserve to be a part of the Masterchef franchise, they are frankly an embarrassment. Masterchef US actually requires contestants to sign an agreement stating that they allow themselves to be misrepresented and wrongly-portrayed for dramatic purposes during the course of the series (look it up), therefore there’s no real empahasis or intent by the show to genuinely find and nurture a real ‘masterchef’. It’s all about ratings and purely in the guise of ‘entertainment’. This makes it a very different beast to its global counterparts, which are in the entertainment game too but actually DO seem to be genuinely interested in finding a master chef.

    For this reason, among others, I have concluded that while Gordon Ramsay is undoubtedly a very talented chef, he is a man completely lacking in integrity who quite honestly seems to be motivated by the lower human instincts and is not really someone to be admired, certainly not for his personality, which appears to be void of any dignity or decorum. If he had any intregrity at all, he would not be able to put his name to such a farce of a show as Masterchef US which may as well be called Disasterchef.
    I had respect for Ramsay once upon a time but now I find him intolerable. Ultimately he only cares about increasing his own fame and wealth and feeding his own monstrous ego.

    Anyway, here is how I rank the Masterchef versions I’ve seen so far:

    1. Australia
    2. UK
    3. New Zealand
    ……..
    99. Canada
    100. US

  5. Mat says:

    Completely agree with everything said here! Great article!

  6. Drew says:

    I thought the US version of MasterChef was great, all the fighting, and drama, etc. Now, having seen 3 full seasons of MasterChef AU, I have to say that the USA version is just weak. I think the drama is scripted (or at least encouraged,) and if you have nothing to compare it to, well, you accept it.

    When you watch the AU version you actually start to root for humanity again. The humility and camaraderie are enough to bring you to “happy tears.”

  7. fiqah ismail says:

    only started watching masterchef US season
    7 followed by season 8 where i was rooting for dino to win.. thank god he won and from there i got hooked watching all episodes, anxiously waiting for the next season (which is ongoing nw)occasionally i wud watch masterchef AU since it was aired everyday in my country(it was season 9)i got confused abit since the format was a tad different where there was the immunity and the invention challenge. so i ditched watching and proceed with masterchef US.
    somehow when season 10 masterchef AU began, i watched all the way from episode 1 till nw episode 30 and i totally love the enthusiasm and the support the contestant had for each other. this was way different frm the contestants frm masterchef US. yes they supported but they literally backstabbed each other with the words used. they did not cheer for each other or even clap for one another during the pressure test. they just stood there mumbling negativity for the contestants that has to go through that round.the vibes was way better in masterchef australia..anyways i wud prefer the latter even though the episodes are rather long.
    still,i wont stop watching masterchef us cos of the differen drama involved. ouh there was this one episode (season 9)where gordon ramsay yelled and called one of the contestant clark kent hahaha kinda mean but i literallyy lauughed cos honestly that dude really look like superman.

  8. Swatie Kapil says:

    My husband and I have been watching MC Australia since 2014 ( and I have been watching it since season 1)and look forward to it each year.(It’s kind of become our thing now) We couldn’t agree more with every observation. Such an infinitely better show in every sense.

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