How to apply for MasterChef: Everything you need to know

Have you got what it takes to be a MasterChef champion?

Updated on • Written By Emma Mitchell

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How to apply for MasterChef: Everything you need to know

Have you ever wondered how to apply for MasterChef? From the comfort of our sofa we’ve all been there – shouting at the screen and shaking our head in despair as culinary hopefuls on MasterChef UK crumble under the pressure of Gregg Wallace and John Torode’s watchful eyes. How often we’ve thought ‘I could do better than that’ as a teary-eyed contestant sheepishly presents a sorrowful plate of unidentifiable ingredients. Yet, how many of us would actually have the guts to put ourselves to the test?

You can breathe a sigh of relief as applications for MasterChef UK 2020 have already closed, but as the sixteenth series of the BBC show airs this February perhaps it’s actually time to give it a thought? After all, the competition has had some life-changing outcomes for many of the finalists and winners who have gone before. 2005 winner Thomasina Miers is somewhat of a celebrity in the industry, and following her triumph worked briefly with Skye Gyngell at Petersham Nurseries before co-founding the award-winning Mexican restaurant group Wahaca, writing numerous cookery books and presenting cookery programmes. Similarly Mat Follas, who won series 5 went on to open The Wild Garlic in Nailsworth to great acclaim, achieving an impressive 2 AA Rosettes; and 2011’s winner Tim Anderson has secured his dream career in food working as a restaurateur (Nanban), freelance chef, food writer and consultant as well as featuring regularly on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube and Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet.  

Previous MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers

So if you’re a bit of a whiz in the kitchen and would love to embark on a lifelong career in food then why not have a shot at applying for MasterChef UK?

In an attempt to make the prospect a little less daunting we’ve created this handy guide to hopefully help you with your application and answer any frequently asked questions regarding the process.

How do I apply for MasterChef UK?

It’s actually all very simple. When entries reopen you will be able to fill out an application form from the official MasterChef website. Expect questions on your favourite chefs and what dishes you like to cook. You may also be asked about your culinary influences so get thinking about those early inspirational moments in the kitchen!

You will need to provide a photograph and there is even opportunity to submit a video too if you want to show off your natural TV credentials! In previous years there have been phone interviews too.    

Once your application has been reviewed, producers will invite any successful candidates to interview. At this round contestants are typically filmed while presenting to two of the show's producers. Each hopeful chef is required to bring a dish with them, which will have to be served cold. The team assure us they're used to imagining your dish hot - if it's supposed to be eaten so - but we suppose making something which does well at room temperature could only be a bonus. Expect to chat through the dish as well as answering other questions during your few minutes in the hot seat, they're after someone who can multitask with a camera in their face. 

What are the requirements to be on MasterChef UK?

  • You must be 18 years or over
  • You must be a resident of the UK (which includes Northern Ireland & The Channel Islands)
  • Your main source of income must never have come from preparing and cooking food in a professional environment
  • You must never have worked full time as a chef in a restaurant or have run a food or catering business.

What do the MasterChef heats involve?

Seasoned MasterChef watchers will know this already, but the format has changed over the years so if you’re a little rusty on the ins and outs here’s what to expect. To secure a coveted spot as a quarter finalist contestants will firstly have to impress in the following two culinary challenges:

The Market Test
Contestants have to invent a dish with ingredients selected from the bounteous MasterChef Market. They have 15 minutes to choose their produce and 1 hour 10 minutes to cook the dish before presenting it to judges John and Gregg. Three people will leave the competition straight away after this so choose those ingredients wisely.

The Impression Test
The four remaining contestants must cook a two course meal in 75 minutes for notable past winners and finalists of MasterChef. They’ll be allocated 1 hour to serve the main course, and a further fifteen minutes after that to serve dessert – easy as pie!

Where is MasterChef UK filmed?

Filming usually takes place at the end of the year in 3 Mills Studios, in East London. The nearest underground station is Bromley-by-Bow, which is a 5 minute walk away and connected to the Hammersmith & City and District lines.

When is the application deadline for MasterChef?

Applications are now closed for 2020 but we will let you know when they’ve reopened for series 17 in 2021. Last year applications opened in July and closed in early August.

When does the new series of MasterChef start?

The show will return to BBC One on Monday 11 February 2020 at 9pm - hooray!


If you were glued to the latest series of MasterChef: The Professionals have a read about what winner Stu Deeley is up to now

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