Fox’s hit series “MasterChef” adds another dimension to Gordon Ramsay, who admits that he is easier on the show’s amateur cooks than the pros on “Hell’s Kitchen,” but also hooks non-cooking viewers. So what makes it so appealing?
“It’s more than about cooking — it’s about people being given an opportunity to change their lives, and that touches people on all kinds of levels,” says longtime exec producer Adeline Ramage Rooney. “I know so many people who do not cook and they just get carried away with it.”
“MasterChef” wrapped its fifth season in September, and is a strong seller worldwide for Shine America. “It’s a brand that worked because it’s adaptable to every territory,” says Eden Gaha, president, unscripted, Shine America.
“Relatability is always important. We’re always manacled to the food process first and foremost — viewers need to see what’s going on with the food,” he says.
This dovetails with Ramsay’s brand — he’s a chef, not an entertainer. But the interplay among the show’s judges — Ramsay, restaurateur Joe Bastianich and chef Graham Elliot — is quite entertaining.
“Gordon and I have this great energy between us,” Bastianich says. “I make fun of him because he’s Scottish and various other defects, and he makes fun of me because he thinks I’m a snob, I’m Italian, and we have this banter going back and forth — it’s actually pretty funny.”
Elliot, an accomplished chef who’d worked with Ramsay in the past, says he feels like the younger brother: “I’m the artsy one, Gordon is the hardcore chef, and Joe’s the sophisticated traveler.”
And if “MasterChef” opened up a new side of Ramsay to viewers, then “MasterChef Junior,” which launches season 2 on Nov. 4, adds another twist.
“The notion of him cooking with 8-year-olds would be insane, but it shows in his self-awareness of the brand,” says longtime exec producer Robin Ashbrook. “That’s one of things I love about ‘Junior’ — the kids don’t give a shit about who Gordon is.”
The format has been a hit around the world as well, and appeals to three generations of viewers. “Frankly, people are shocked and freaked out by the skill of these kids!” says Ramage Rooney.