There is one cooking show that perhaps we’ve all seen: MasterChef. With Judges Gordon Ramsey, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot, there is no doubt why Masterchef is the number 1 cooking show on television!
I had the honor of interviewing both Master Chef Judge Graham Elliot and Executive Producer, Robin Ashbrook, who were both so kind to answer questions in regards to both the show and their personal lives.
With the show, the judges are trying to find those great, undiscovered talents. When I see the caliber of chefs that you guys have from season to season, I’m often surprised to see these chefs undiscovered. Do you think it’s because of the difficulty to get into the food industry or do you just think they are undiscovered before they come onto the show?
Graham Elliot: I think the biggest thing is that they already have existing careers and lifestyles that they’re a part of, whether it’s families, fathers, mothers. This season, we have everything from a stay-at-home dad to an advertising executive, an aerial dancer; people that are committed to what they do, and true to this creative outlet for them, it’s cathartic to cook, and we’re bringing them in, and I think really showing much of the country what they’re made of.
One of the things we love about the show is the different twists and turns that we see each year. What can you tell us about this season, and what would you expect in that regard?
Robin Ashbrook: We can expect that the food quality continues to excel year after year, thanks to the work of the judges. I would say you can expect this season, that we celebrate even more great American food, great tradition of American food. Obviously you can tell I’m not from here, but still happy to celebrate that you have the best food cultures in the world, and then little surprises along the way; there are many.
You’ll see Graham and Gordon cooking as we go, and we’ll all learn a lot from those guys. There are obviously plenty of twists and turns with the home cooks themselves, but there’ll be also special appearances. There might be a point when the home cooks have the pressure of cooking a romantic dinner for Gordon and his wife, which is a particularly—you can image the stress of that for these home cooks, at some stage cooking for Gordon and his wife.
Our challenges out in the field are bigger than ever before. There is one episode where we have to feed the Army, which is over 500. We do huge, relate-able challenges that I hope all the audiences in America can relate to. We do weddings, there’s one in conjunction with the NFL, a diner – the restaurant takeover. We’ve taken all of the great things that we’ve learned about MasterChef and gone, hopefully, one step further, bigger, bolder and brighter, once again.
Graham, can you tell us how much weight you’ve lost? Why and where di dyou decide to do it, and do it with surgery? How are you handling all the food you have to eat now, on the show?
Graham Elliot: The main thing is, we have these new cameras that actually, instead of adding pounds, they remove them! No, my thing is, I got to 400 pounds, and realized that I don’t have to accept this role just in life as the big, round chef. Having three boys, a new baby and health issues from blood pressure to sleep apnea, I realized that having joined a million gyms and trainers I just wasn’t able to do this on my own.
So I decided to have the weight loss surgery, and I had a procedure that allowed me to still taste and eat everything, just not in large amounts. I’m able to do the show, taste, go to restaurants, do tasting menus. It doesn’t impact what I do with food at all, it’s just the quantity is the issue. So far I’ve lost 150 pounds!
I am doing a 10k this weekend and running in the Chicago Marathon in the fall!
Graham, how is it working with Gordon Ramsey and Mr. Joe?
Graham Elliot: It’s great because they are actually, I think, two of my closest friends, not just in the industry, but in general. We get to talk all day up on stage, and then in between filming we’re in our rooms and listening to music together and talking. I can text them both for advice, whether it’s hey, I’m doing an event, or what do you think about this restaurant concept? It’s like having two mentors next to me, and also two older brothers. They are also a big reason of my getting healthy! Both of them have done the Iron Man Triathlon and always speaking about how to be your best and things like that, so I give them a ton of credit.
Season 5 premiere of MasterChef airs next Monday, May 26th at 8/7 Central on Fox. Take a look at Graham Elliot’s Ramburger recipe below! This would make a great addition to your Memorial Day menu!
RAMBURGER WITH MELTED BRIE, WATERCRESS, AND ROASTED GARLIC AIOLI
BY “MASTERCHEF” JUDGE GRAHAM ELLIOT
Wine: Bastianich Refosco Rosato