MasterChef Continues Cooking on High Heat

Just last week, FOX renewed the powerhouse cooking competition series MasterChef for a 14th season, as the show reached its landmark 250th episode on the U.S. network. This was fresh off of news about an adaptation for French Canada, with MasterChef Quebec to air on TVA in early 2024.

Indeed, the show was crowned the most successful cookery television format by Guinness World Records, as more than 60 adaptions have aired in 250-plus countries. K7 Media recently crowned the show as its spin-off superstar, with iterations Celebrity MasterChef, MasterChef JuniorMasterChef: The Professionals, Young MasterChef, MasterChef All Stars, MasterChef Senior and MasterChef Young Talent accounting for 17 new international series launches. There’s also a brand-new ninth spin-off, MasterChef: Dessert Masters, launching in Australia later this year.

MasterChef was Banijay’s most successful format of 2022, and last year, there were more MasterChef launches than any year to date, with 56 productions across 38 markets,” says Lucas Green, chief content officer for operations at Banijay.

The recommission rate for MasterChef is extremely high, Green notes. “We have some incredibly popular long-running versions that are continuing to smash ratings with each new season, including the U.K. version, which has been BBC’s highest-rating cookery show year-on-year since 2016; the U.S., where the 12th season was FOX’s most-watched and highest-rated show last summer; Spain, where the show is consistently number one in its slot; and Italy, where season 12 improved the slot by close to 700 percent.”

In the last year, the format has been introduced in three new markets: Switzerland, Bolivia and Estonia. Plus, there have been recent returns in territories such as New Zealand, after six years off-air, and South Africa, following a seven-year hiatus.

“Every exciting new innovation makes it into the format bible,” Green says. “The MasterChef Senior adaptation is a great example, which initially launched as standalone specials in Spain in 2020 and is now generating significant international interest for expansion.

“Within the shows, one of our most-loved versions, MasterChef Australia, first introduced the ‘immunity pin’ in 2011, which allows a contestant to save themselves from elimination. This clever twist has traveled to many other markets—from the U.S. to South Africa and India.”

Green continues: “We are fortunate to be able to leverage the extraordinary talent and expertise across the wider group, and the specialist team in the creative networks division at Banijay does a fantastic job at supporting our productions and nurturing and evolving the MasterChef brand. We host an annual creative event for the show’s key producers and showrunners, where we exchange ideas and drive best practice and collaboration throughout the MasterChef family; it’s an invaluable coming together of minds and knowledge.”

Gordon Ramsay popularized the brand, and the various international iterations must find their own “Gordon” to lead the action. “Each version is unique, and the broadcasting partner and culture will heavily influence what is needed from their judges,” Green says. “But regardless of where they are in the world, without fail, they must be credible and respected food experts first and foremost.”

With a commitment to ensuring the MasterChef brand is inclusive and diverse, more female judges have been cast. The newly rebooted MasterChef India, for example, cast Garima Arora, the first Indian woman to win a Michelin star, in its judging lineup.

“With our spin-offs, the criteria for finding judges might shift too,” Green says. “The team in the U.K. cast a fantastic pairing for Young MasterChef with the successful and experienced chef Kerth Gumbs alongside trained chef and TikTok superstar Poppy O’Toole.”

The latest spin-off, MasterChef: Dessert Masters, iscoming to Australia later this year. From the team behind MasterChef Australia, the new series will, for the first time, spotlight the talents of some of the greatest pastry chefs from around the country.

“The most successful spin-off is currently Celebrity MasterChef,which is active in ten markets,” Green says. “With a different dynamic to the main series that gives viewers the opportunity to see some well-known faces in an entirely new light, celebrity casting is more generally proving a popular format twist internationally. We’re seeing this in other formats beyond MasterChef, too, like Hunted.”

Recent iterations MasterChef Young Talent from the Nordics and Young MasterChef in the U.K. “offer a different demographic of budding chefs the opportunity to embark on a culinary education like no other—and the cookery skills we have seen from these series have surpassed all expectations,” Green says.

Banijay Rights has continued to take the finished versions out around the world. “The most popular versions traveling are often the English-language versions, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia across all iterations,” Green says. “The Australian versions alone have sold into 246 territories. And there is also a big demand for some of our non-English-language shows too, with the likes of MasterChef Latino (U.S. Hispanic) selling well internationally.”

As for what’s next for the brand: “We will continue to uphold consistency and the reputation and integrity of the brand to deliver the best cookery show in the world,” says Green. “MasterChef really does change lives, and we definitely feel a responsibility to ensure it maintains the quality, relevance and experience both for viewers and our contestants. This means continually evaluating our iterations and ensuring strong diversity and sustainability standards are in play across the board, both on- and off-screen. MasterChef leads the way in Banijay’s catalog in terms of its environmental and social impact. Casting is diverse and inclusive; we recently had our first-ever plant-based chef in India and a vegetarian winner in Iberia. The format also maintains very high standards in terms of zero food waste and challenges that promote sustainable and responsibly sourced ingredients.”

Alongside the main series, the newer iterations are generating interest internationally, he adds. “I’m excited to see their rollouts and how our global MasterChef teams adapt them for their markets.”

There is also an extensive international brand licensing program in place, with 90-plus licensees worldwide and some fresh projects in the pipeline.

“At Banijay, we never stand still, and we constantly reinvest in the format to drive creativity and reinvention, ensuring it stays fresh year after year,” Green says. “With so much talent and collaboration across the Banijay footprint, we have the best brains in the business to grow ideas and maximize them globally.”