MasterChef: The Professionals is back next week

From skills tests to cooking up a storm in Michelin kitchens across the UK, the contestants are in for a real challenge this year

Updated on 31 October 2019 • Written By Rosie Conroy

MasterChef: The Professionals is back next week

You know what they say, when one door closes another one opens; and the same can be said of MasterChef. Just a few short weeks after Celebrity MasterChef finished it was announced that MasterChef: The Professionals would be gracing our television screens once more to see us through the dark winter months.

The hit programme, which is in its 12th year, will follow a similar format to previous series with 12 professional chefs faced with various challenges. Managing success in the various culinary tasks will help one champion to win the coveted crown (not to mention the kudos the award brings). Previous MasterChef: The Professionals winners include Steve Groves who was crowned National Chef of the Year in 2019 and is the head chef for Roux at Parliament Square, and Laurence Henry who won last year’s competition. Henry came to the challenge with a wealth of existing experience, having worked as a sous chef for top British chef Sat Bains who holds two Michelin Stars, and now plans to open his own venture in Nottingham in 2020.

The team behind the hit show are famously secretive about contestants and specific tasks before the programme airs, but we’ve had a little chat with them to find out what we can, and have detailed their answers below. So for everything you need to know about MasterChef: The Professionals, keep reading. We’ll also do our best to bring you updates as and when we can.

When is MasterChef: The Professionals on?

MasterChef: The Professionals returns to our screens on 5 November, 2019 at 8pm on BBC 2 and will run for seven weeks. The first three episodes are billed to be on at 8pm on Tuesday 5, Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 November, and if the running schedule remains the same it will be on every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with the final being on the 24 December.

Who are the MasterChef: The Professionals contestants?

The contestants competing on MasterChef: The Professionals 2019 are yet to be revealed by the BBC, so we can’t yet share the big news with you. We do know, however, that there is usually a mix of levels from across the UK. As the prominence of the show increases year on year we’re expecting big things from this year’s applicants.

Who are the judges on MasterChef: The Professionals?

The Judges on MasterChef: The Professionals 2019 are the same as previous years. Michelin Star chef Marcus Wareing holds court with high-end chef Monica Galetti, who runs Mere in London, while Gregg Wallace is on hand to offer an outsider’s perspective on the cooking. So what are they looking for in their champion? 

Monica Galetti says: “This series is going to be fierce. The chefs are going to have to pull out all the stops and keep us on our toes. I cannot wait to discover who is going to emerge on top.”

While Marcus Wareing comments: “I want bold, I want brilliant and I want beautifully-cooked food. That’s what will get my attention and really help a chef stand out.” Not much then... 

Who are the Critics on MasterChef: The Professionals?

Each year a line up of the country’s top-end food critics judge some of the rounds of MasterChef: The Professionals. This year sees William Sitwell, Grace Dent, Jimi Famurewa, Tom Parker Bowles, Tracey MacLeod, Amol Rajan and Jay Rayner enter the MasterChef kitchen to judge the contestant’s food at various stages.

What are the challenges on MasterChef: The Professionals?

The challenges on MasterChef: The Professionals differ slightly from the regular series, with more complex tasks given to contestants, as might be expected. From having to come up with high-end dining concepts on the spot to stripping techniques back and making a meal without any fancy cheffy equipment, the cooks are really put through their paces. Below are details on the most common challenges, so you know what to expect from MasterChef: The Professionals 2019.

Skills test: For many this is the most stressful round to watch as chefs are given a classic dish or technique to tackle under the watchful eye of the judges. Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti take it in turns to demonstrate for viewers how they would like each challenge completed, before contestants are called in to have a go themselves with minimal instructions. There’s always a pastry chef who is horrified by having to debone an animal and always someone who has never made pasta. Enjoy.

Spoiler alert, here’s what they will be doing in the first three episodes:

In episode one Marcus will set the first challenge, asking the chefs to make poached guinea fowl breast with a sauce Robert to display their butchery and sauce prowess in just 20 minutes. The second half of the MasterChef hopefuls will then have to make hand-cut tagliatelle with lamb ragu without any fully-formed instructions from Monica.

Episode two sees Marcus ask the chefs to come up with a crab omelette Arnold Bennett in 20 mins, and Monica ask for a puff pastry and vanilla mousseline layered dessert.

Signature dish: The signature dish challenge is played out each and every year and requires the team of hopefuls to showcase their cooking style in just one plate of food. There are bound to be ups and downs, with some triumphing and others seeing their dreams shatter on the unveiling of a solid chocolate fondant or an overcooked piece of meat.

Invention test: The invention test really sorts the wheat from the chaff, where chefs are given one humble ingredient and are tasked with creating something beautiful from it, with the choice of just a few other larder ingredients. In episode three Marcus will give everyone rice to cook with, to see what they can make from this everyday product. Other invention tests will take place throughout the competition, with the format usually allowing the chefs to choose from a limited range of ingredients in order to produce a specific sweet or savoury task set by the judges. One such run in the 2019 series will see the team required to make a plant-based dish.

Pop-up challenge: This year the contestants will have to take on a pop-up food stand at Pergola London food market. This Masterchef challenge will be aired over two episodes and will see street food at the centre of the chefs’ offerings. There will be an audience of the MasterChef judges as well as invited foodie royalty, who will all vote on their favourite dishes to crown a winner.

A Personal Dish: Another stalwart of the MasterChef lineup, the personal dish round challenges the contestants to produce one plate of food that evokes a memory, reminds them of a favourite person or holds sentimental value to them for some reason. The stories here are usually as good as the cooking, with everyone putting their all into making their friends and family proud after having name checked them as the inspiration.

The Chef’s Table: Arguably the most important challenge of all the rounds, The Chef’s Table is an annual event held in central London. High profile industry professionals are invited along, including Michelin Star chefs (holding an intimidating 20 between them), to try the dishes of the MasterChef: The Professionals hopefuls. Monica and Marcus are on hand in the kitchen to oversee things, while Gregg works the dining room.

MasterChef: The Professionals restaurants

The restaurants on MasterChef: The Professionals are a step up from the regular competition, with it not being unheard of for Michelin Star venues to feature. In semi-final weeks this year the chefs will be split into two groups and will head to two of the UK’s top restaurants. Three of the keen chefs will head to Michelin Star Ynyshir in Wales, which is run by chef Gareth Ward, while the remaining three head to London’s Hide, which obtained a Michelin Star within six months of opening and is headed up by chef Ollie Dabbous who is lauded for his creativity and innovation.

The penultimate task will also see the contestants prove their worth in a restaurant, but this time things take an international swerve. The final three chefs will be flown out to Portugal to work under the guidance of Jose Avillez, at his flagship two Michelin-starred Lisbon restaurant, Belcanto. 

Like to keep up with celebrity chef news? Have you heard that Heston Blumenthal’s former pastry chef is suing him for £200,000?