Here’s How The MasterChef Contestants Get Around The Recipe Rules

Image courtesy of Channel 10
One of the greatest joys of MasterChef Australia is watching amateur home cooks whip up incredibly delicious dishes. Whether it's a mystery box challenge that requires certain ingredients to be used, or an immunity challenge that demands a particular colour or cuisine to be highlighted, the contestants always manage to blow us away with their innovative and tasty creations.
When you watch the show, you'll notice that the contestants never read recipes unless they're completing a pressure test, where they recreate a celebrity guest chef's famous dish. So how do the contestants manage to cook such delectable and sophisticated dishes that involve multiple steps, complicated techniques and varied ingredients?
According to one of this year's contestants Rue Mupedzi, cast members are not allowed to take any written recipe material into the MasterChef kitchen. It's up to each contestant to memorise any recipes they hope to use on the show, as well as spend any spare time practising new techniques and dishes as the competition progresses.
"We can't take recipes," Mupedzi tells Refinery29 Australia. "I did a lot of studying and a lot of practising."
Mupedzi's personal strategy during filming was to practise making "basics" such as "basic sponges, pastries and sauces" that she could "incorporate into other dishes".
Image courtesy of Channel 10
MasterChef Australia contestant Rue Mupedzi
Filming hours on Masterchef can be very long, but the oral health therapist says that didn't stop her from cooking up a storm when she left the studio.
"It depended on the week," she explains. "Sometimes you'd have quite a bit of time. If it was a late finish, say five or six when I got home, I still tried to squeeze in maybe like an hour or two, just to try and cook something and prepare myself."
In addition to some of those staple elements that could be adapted to a variety of dishes, Mupedzi says she'd also experiment with other flavours and techniques. It was a bit of a guessing game because "when you're practising, you don't know what you're practising for".
"But it's something that you can possibly use eventually," she says, "so I was studying a lot of cookbooks. I brought like a suitcase of cookbooks from Perth."
Former contestant Poh Ling Yeow recently shared some pages from a notebook she kept while filming the 2020 all-stars season called MasterChef Australia: Back To Win.
"A page from a notebook of ingredient lists I’d committed to memory for MasterChef Back to Win. This is what we did with every spare minute," she wrote alongside the two recipes scrawled across the pages.
This year's season of MasterChef is different to last year's season MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites, which featured 12 returning contestants from previous seasons and 12 amateur home cooks.
The contestants are Adi NevgiAlice Han, Amy Tanner, Andrea Puglisi, Antonio Cruz Vaamonde, Brent DraperCath Collins, Declan Cleary, Grace Jupp, Jessica Perri, Larissa SewellMalissa Fedele, Phil Conway, Ralph Kahango, Rhiannon AndersonRobbie CooperRue Mupedzi and Theo Loizou.
In addition to MasterChef judges Melissa Leong, Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo (who recently passed away), this year there's a star-studded lineup of guest judges including Jamie Oliver, Curtis Stone, Maggie Beer, Rick Stein and Peter Gilmore.
MasterChef Australia airs Sunday to Wednesday at 7:30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play.
MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites airs Sunday to Thursday at 7:30pm on Channel 10 and 10Play.
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