For all you cooking programme fanatics out there (including us!), the biggest few months of the culinary tv show calendar have arrived, with the brand new series of MasterChef having kicked off. It only feels like a matter of weeks since the most recent series of MasterChef: The Professionals wrapped up but that doesn’t mean that we’re any less excited to become obsessed with a whole new group of contestants. The main difference, of course, between this current series of MasterChef compared to MasterChef: The Professionals, is that all 60 of the contestants are amateurs, meaning that there are likely to be a few more nightmares in the MasterChef kitchen. In fact, there aren’t many things we enjoy more than watching stressed amateur chefs running around a warm kitchen, dropping things all over the place, while discussing what we would have done differently if we were given the same invention test.
MasterChef has had its fair share of success stories in the past, proving that just because these chefs are amateurs doesn’t mean they can’t go on to achieve some pretty exciting things. Since winning the first series of Masterchef in 2005, Thomasina Miers has become somewhat of a star, going on to write numerous books as well as setting up popular Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca. 2011 Champion Tim Anderson went on to work in the kitchens of both The Fat Duck and La Gavroche before setting up his Japanese soul food restaurant Nanban which has recently launched its second outlet in the highly fashionable Seven Dials market. Meanwhile 2012 finalist Andrew Kojima has been in the news for other reasons.
With series 16 of Masterchef now underway, we will be updating this page regularly with information about the contestants, the challenges and episode summaries. So keep checking back for the latest up-to-date information on MasterChef 2020.
When is MasterChef 2020 on? When is the final?
The new series of MasterChef began on BBC One on Monday 24 February and will air for eight weeks, with three episodes shown a week. This means that we expect the final to be on Friday 17 April. The dates and start time of each week's episodes vary, but every week three episodes will air at some point between Monday and Friday 7.30-9.30pm.
How many episodes of MasterChef are there?
There will be 24 episodes over the eight week period.
Who are the MasterChef judges?
Unsurprisingly, our favourite duo of Greg Wallace and John Torode are back for another series of Masterchef, and will be providing their esteemed opinions of the amateur chefs' dishes. They’ve been with us ever since the reboot of the show began in 2005 so it wouldn’t really be MasterChef without them.
Who are the MasterChef 2020 contestants?
There are 60 contestants taking part in this year's competition, ranging from a cattle farmer to a music producer and everything else in between. Below is a list, which we will keep updated, of all of the contestants who've made it as far as knockout week.
Who won last year's series of MasterChef?
Last year’s winner was 60-year-old Irini Tzortzoglou who originated from the Greek island of Crete and won a close, all-women final.
What are the MasterChef 2020 challenges?
The challenges faced by MasterChef contestants in the competition vary a bit year on year but there are certain tasks which always feature.
MasterChef wouldn't be MasterChef without an invention test, which usually features in the initial heats and consists of contestants being given a box of ingredients and having to devise a dish on the spot form what they're given.
You can also expect to see contestants cook a two-course meal for past winners and finalists, and for those who make it to the latter stages, cook for food critics such as Grace Dent and Jay Rayner.
Finalists then tend to be taken abroad to learn to cook a completely different cuisine, with last year's finalists being flown out to Hong Kong. They then returned to the MasterChef kitchen to cook alongside two Michelin-starred founder of Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons, Raymond Blanc, before the final episode where they had to cook a full three-course meal for Greg and John.
What happened in the latest MasterChef episode? (Warning: spoilers ahead)
Episode 1 (Heat 1): The first episode of this year's series featured six contestants taking part in a heat to narrow them down to just three. It began with a Signature Dish Challenge, which saw the six chefs each cook a dish of their choosing for the judges. The contestants who cooked the best two dishes automatically progressed to the next round.
The remaining four chefs had to cook again in a brand new task called the Three Ingredient Challenge. This task saw the chefs being presented with three ingredients (bream, fennel, and tomatoes) and have to invent a dish showcasing all three ingredients. The best two chefs in this task progressed to the next round, with the other two's MasterChef journey coming to an early end. The remaning four chefs then had to cook two courses which would excite both John and Greg, and last year's MasterChef finalists Delia-Marie Asser, Jilly McCord and Irini Tzortzoglou, with only the best three chefs progressing to the quarter finals. After much deliberation between the judges, contestants Dev, Pete and Teddy progressed to the quarter finals, with Teddy being named the guests' favourite chef.
Episode 2 (Heat 2): Heat 2 followed the same format as the first with six contestants being narrowed down to five after taking part in a Signature Dish Challenge, followed by the Three Ingredient Challenge (squid, courgette and chilli were the ingredients this time). The remaining five chefs then cooked two courses for MasterChef 2015 finalists Emma Spitzer, Tony Rodd and Simon Wood, as well as Greg and John with a place in the quarter finals at stake. In the end, Shaheen's food proved to be the guests' favourites, with Euan and Charlotte also progressing to the quarter finals.
Episode 3 (Quarterfinal 1): The six chefs who progressed from the first two heats had just one task between them and a spot in knock out week: The Critic's Task. This quarter final saw food critic Jay Rayner set the contestants the task of producing a standout dish which incorporated stuffing. After all six of the chefs' dishes had been tasted by Rayner, as well as Greg and John, the best three chefs were announced as Charlotte, Shaheen and Euan, and they progressed to knock out week.
Episode 4 (Heat 3): The same format for the heats as in week 1 continued. After the Signature Dish Challenge, four chefs had to take part in a Three Ingredients Challenge where they had to use butternut squash, pork fillet and cavalo nero. After two chefs left, the remaining four had to cook two courses for 2016 MasterChef finalists Billy Wright, Jack Layer and Jane Devonshire. After they had all cooked, the three chefs who progressed to the quarterfinals were Max, Bruce and Sandy.
Episode 5 (Heat 4): The Three Ingredients challenge in this heat required the chefs to create a dish including apple, almonds and vanilla. The four chefs who remained after this task had to cook two courses for 2010 MasterChef finalists, Alex Rushmer, Dr Tim Kinnaird and Dhruv Baker. Eventually it was decided that the chefs progressing to the quarterfinals were David, Alex and Jane.
Episode 6 (Quarterfinal 2): The six chefs who progressed from heats three and four had to face the Critic's Task in this episode. This quarterfinal saw food critic Grace Dent set the contestants the task of producing a party sharing plate. After all the dishes were tried by both Greg and John, and Dent, it was decided that four chefs would progress to knock out week: David, Jane, Sandy, and Max.
Episode 7 (Heat 5): This heat saw four chefs take part in the Three Ingredients Challenge where they had to invent a dish which included crab, fennel and spring onions with two having already progressed after the Signature Dish task. After two contestants left, the four remaining chefs had to cook a two-course meal for 2011 contestant Elizabeth Haigh, 2015 finalist Robert Parks and 2005 MasterChef champion Thomasina Miers. In the end the three chefs who progressed to the quarterfinals were Amy, Sahar, and Jasmeet.
Episode 8 (Heat 6): After two chefs progressed from the Signature Dish Challenge, the four remaining contestants took part in the Three Ingredients Challenge, where they had to create a dish which included red pepper, aubergine and diced lamb shoulder. The best two chefs progressed to join the two contestants already through. These four then had to cook two courses for 2016 semi-finalist Elizabeth Cottam and MasterChef champions James Nathan (2008) and Tim Anderson (2011). Eventually it was decided that Christian, Mustan and Hannah would progress to the quarterfinals.
Episode 9 (Quarterfinal 3): The six chefs who progressed from heats five and six had to face a Critic's Task set by food critic William Sitwell: to cook an entirely plant-based dish. After both Greg and John, and Sitwell had tried all the dishes, it was decided that Jasmeet, Christian and Hannah would progress to knock out week.
Episode 10 (Heat 7): After the Signature Dish Challenge, two chefs earnt their MasterChef aprons, with the four remaining chefs having to cook again in the Three Ingredients Challenge, where they had to create a dish including chocolate, cherries and coconut. The two best chefs earnt aprons to join the others, while the other two chefs were sent home. The remaining four chefs had to cook two courses for 2018 MasterChef semi-finalist Nisha Parmar, finalist Alex Jorge and champion Kenny Tutt. After all the dishes had be tasted, it was decided that James, Thomas and Marla would progress to the quarterfinals.
Episode 11 (Heat 8): With two chefs having already progressed after the Signature Dish Challenge, the four remaining chefs had to take part in a Three Ingredients Challenge which involved them creating a dish which included chicken, mushrooms and spinach. After two contestants left the competition, the remaining four chefs had to cook for 2006 MasterChef finalist Dean Edwards, 2013 finalist Larkin Cen and the 2017 champion Saliha Mahmood Ahmed. After all the contestants had cooked, it was decided that Katie, Luca, and Jenny would progress.
Episode 12 (Quarterfinal 4): In this quarterfinal, the six remaining chefs from heats 7 and 8 were set a Critic's Task by Tom Parker-Bowles. He asked them to create a dish showcasing the chilli, and after both he, Greg and John had tried the contestants' dishes, it was decided that three chefs would progress to knock out week: Thomas, Marla, and James.
Episode 13 Week five marks the final week of heats, where hosts John and Greg welcome a whole new
team of amateur cooks to their kitchen, who all hold the same single ambition - winning the
coveted MasterChef trophy. In the first round, the two favourite dishes were cooked by
Natasha - who made a chicken supreme with a cavolo nero pasta, spiced tomato sauce and
tempura anchovies – and Claire, who whipped up a (slightly undercooked!) rack of lamb,
with giant couscous, charred aubergines, tahini sauce and a herb and anchovy dressing.
Claire and Natasha sailed straight through, and as with previous weeks, the remaining four
contestants then faced the three-ingredient test. For this they were presented with a whole
lemon sole, peppers and some swiss chard. With two more cooks knocked out at the end of
this stage the remaining cooks then were tasked with showcasing their kitchen talents for
former MasterChef stars Anthony O’Shaughnessy, Steven Wallis and Shelina Permalloo.
Episode 14 of MasterChef continues in the same format as the previous programme, with
another group of six home cooks battling it out to get closer to that all-important final. The
three-ingredient test included beetroot, squab pigeon and bacon as well as the usual larder
supplies which the contestants could choose from to bolster the three central ingredients.
As ever, there were a few hits and a few misses, with Jack and Steve joining experienced
home cook Beverley and experimental Renata who showcased a taste of home in a modern
way with a deconstructed goulash to win an apron. The remaining contestants then had to
cook the usual two courses for former MasterChef contestants. Judging this round were
Jack Lucas, Ping Coombes and Mat Follas.
Episode 15 The six best cooks of the previous two episodes now go head-to-head in the final quarter
final of the competition. With just three places left the wannabe chefs have an hour and a
half to respond to a brief set out by top UK food critic Jimi Famurewa. Jimi asked the
contestants to come up with a plate that reminded them of childhood sweetshops.
Nostalgic combinations included lemon sherbet tarts, rhubarb and custard creations and a
pear baked Alaska made to represent pear drops. Spoiler alert, the contestants through to
knock-out week included Beverley, Natasha and Claire.
Episode 16 After five weeks of competition, 60 cooks have been whittled down to 16. Split into two
groups of eight, the first group go up against each other to get the chance to cook in a
professional kitchen for the first time. The episode kicks off with the cooks asked to produce
a plate that they’d like to serve on their own restaurant menu or pop up restaurant or
would feature in their own chef cookbook in the future. At the end of the round
three chefs leave before the remaining contestants are whisked off to east London where
they work under acclaimed chef Rafael Cagali at his Michelin starred restaurant, Da Terra.
Episode 17 The remaining eight contestants in episode 17 are given the same treatment as their
episode 16 counterparts, with the cooks presenting the dishes they’d hope to one day be on
their own restaurant menus. Luxurious serves offered up for judging include a dish of butter
poached lobster tail with pea panna cotta, beef-dripping roasted cauliflower,
chicken skin crumb and a lobster reduction plus a plate of hearty pub fare like roast
fillet of beef with black treacle and mustard glaze, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, cabbage,
horseradish parsnip puree, rosemary roasties and a bone marrow gravy. Following their
efforts three cooks are sent home, with the final five being sent to Manchester, where they
work in a professional kitchen under 2015 MasterChef champion Simon Wood at his
eponymous venture WOOD.
What are this year's Masterchef restaurants?
As with previous years, the contestants are set to visit several of the best restaurants in the
UK during the ‘real kitchen’ challenges as well as the finalists visiting various international culinary hot
spots.The first restaurants to feature on MasterChef this year have been Da Terra in London and WOOD in Manchester, and we can’t wait to see who else will be involved with training up this year’s hopefuls.
Fancy your own chances on Masterchef? Applications may have closed for this series but they will soon open for next year's series. Here's everything you need to know about applying.