Celebrity News

MasterChef: behind the scenes

When the heat is on in the MasterChef kitchen, it’s the crew’s job to keep their cool.

It’s not just contestants who are put to the test on the hit TV One show MasterChef. Before the cameras roll, the 30-strong crew goes through a myriad of challenges to set up the shoots. Here, floor manager Margaret (Maggie) Brott and assistant food producer Alyx Fausett share the secret ingredients that go into a successful show.

Alyx Fausett

It took assistant food producer Alyx Fausett and her two assistants four days to unpack the 80 boxes and crates of food required to fill the MasterChef pantry with 1000 different products for the show. Just as for the contestants, “Challenge Day” is the busiest and most stressful time for Alyx and head food producer Marc Zajtman. “There is a lot of last-minute running around in our department,” Alyx says.

“We want the produce in the pantry to look its best and for food safety reasons, we don’t want the food sitting around for long.” The set-up for each episode starts weeks in advance, as Alyx and Marc predict what types of dishes the contestants could make, as well as anticipate any production problems. “As you’ll hear the judges reiterate to the contestants, preparation, organisation, timing and execution are important,” she says. “It’s the same behind the scenes. My life tends to revolve around a lot of lists.”

**Maggie Brott

**As floor manager on MasterChef, Maggie Brott’s vocal chords get a good work out. “I am the yeller on set. I need to get the contestants to stand, look or move where we need them,” she says.

Before each episode, Maggie does a walk-through with the crew to chart where they expect all the contestants and judges to move, but that doesn’t stop the unexpected from happening. “We have to stand back and see how the contestants react. Some of the biggest moments come from accidents,” says Maggie.

The audition show is one of the most stressful times, as hundreds of people try their luck. “We don’t know the contestants, so we can’t predict what they might need,”she says. Maggie often finds herself stepping into the role of on-site guidance councillor. “[The contestants] can be so nervous that my job may be just to talk them off the ledge – remind them that all they need to do is cook as if it was their kitchen and show the judges that they deserve an apron.”

**What becomes of the food after the show?

**Cast and crew are able to take home perishable ingredients that are used in the challenges and the contestants even take a few of the ingredients back to the MasterChef house.

“Imagine your kitchen when you’re the cook, only with more flour spilled and multiplied by 16,” says Maggie. “The team works together to clean up when we finish a cooking challenge. I love the chance to try new ingredients if there are ever leftover supplies – what cook wouldn’t?”

Secrets of the MasterChef pantry

With more than 1000 fresh and dry products in the MasterChef pantry, it’s no wonder the contestants

seem daunted when they have to narrow down each dish to just 12 ingredients. According to Alyx, the most commonly used ingredients on the show include butter, sugar, vinegars, mustard, cream, parmesan cheese, tinned tomatoes, spices, potatoes, fresh herbs and “a lot of capers”.

”We try to provide staples that would be in every home kitchen, but also make sure there are unique products in there which some of the contestants may never have seen or used before,” she says. The initial dairy order to stock the fridge included:

  • 400 blocks of cheese in 30 varieties

  • 60 litres milk

  • 30 litres cream

  • 49kg of butter

According to Alyx, by the end of the series, the contestants will go through:

  • 300kg potatoes

  • 150kg onions

  • 80kg tomatoes

Get The Australian Woman’s Weekly NZ home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.

Related stories