Are MasterChef Australia Contestants Allowed To Take In Recipes?

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.
But while many of us will cook at home, carefully following a recipe to a tee, it seems like the same doesn't apply to MasterChef Australia contestants, who rarely read recipes unless they're completing a pressure test. So the question remains — are MasterChef contestants allowed to take in recipes to help them? We asked current and past contestants.
According to one of the contestants from the 2023 season, 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 told Refinery29 Australia back in 2023. "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
So how do the contestants manage to cook such delectable and sophisticated dishes that involve multiple steps, complicated techniques and varied ingredients? For current contestant Mimi Wong, a lot of time would be spent in her kitchen after hours practising dishes in lieu of the no-recipe rule.
"90% of my hours outside of the show, I just spent researching and studying and practising," she tells Refinery29 Australia. "It's the most intense thing ever. It's the most adjacent to being in year 12 that I can remember."
"I was frantically making brain space and storing knowledge that you don't know could be used in that specific moment. It was ridiculous," Wong continues.
Wong explains that during the competition, she would quite literally study cooking. "The amount of notes I was making, the amount of books I was filing through," she says. "I think I had my laptop playing a cooking video while I was on Reels, while I had recipe books in front of me, while I was baking bread in the oven. It was freaking ridiculous!"
In terms of her 'studying methodology', Wong explains that she often practised approaches to one particular MasterChef challenge. "I definitely spent a fair bit of energy studying up on my approach to the Mystery Box. That was a big one for me," she says. "I knew that would be very important when getting through the competition as far as I could. These staples were going to get you very far."
"I think from practising a lot of those, I found my feet," she continues. "I found my palette in terms of dishes I wanted to create — and that was very, very enlightening and fun for me."
Meanwhile, former contestant (and now judge) Poh Ling Yeow previously shared some pages from a notebook she kept while filming the 2020 all-stars season called MasterChef Australia: Back To Win. Inside was her approach to the no-recipe rule.
"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.
MasterChef Australia airs Sunday to Wednesday at 7:30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play.
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