Season 3 of the American competitive reality television series MasterChef had a two-night premiere on Fox on June 4 and 5, 2012. By the third episode, which aired on June 11, 2012, the judges had tasted all 100 dishes and given white MasterChef aprons to 36 contestants. In the same episode, the judges cut that number down to 18 contestants. The season concluded on September 10, 2012 with the first blind contestant Christine Ha winning the MasterChef title.
In Part One of the two-night season premiere, award-winning chef Gordon Ramsay, restaurateur Joe Bastianich and acclaimed chef Graham Elliotreturn to the MASTERCHEF judging panel. After a nationwide search, only the best amateur cooks – including a stock broker, a professional opera singer, a plastic surgeon, as well as the first blind cook to enter the competition – were flown to Los Angeles for a chance to prepare their signature dishes and present them to the judges. The judges will taste for flavor, originality, creativity and presentation. But most importantly, the amateur cooks must demonstrate a genuine passion for food and a drive to win in order to earn a coveted white apron and move on to the next roundin the all-new “Auditions #1” season premiere episode of MASTERCHEF.
In Part Two of the two-night season premiere, the auditions continue as the judges critique the good and the bad and continue to winnow down the competition. Those who impress the judges will earn a coveted white apron and move one step closer to becoming the next MASTERCHEF in the all-new “Auditions #2” episode of MASTERCHEF.
The judges continue to winnow down the competition in the final round of auditions, but the stakes are raised as the 36 remaining hopefuls are put to the ultimate test in an intense ground beef challenge. Those who impress the judges will earn a spot in the Top 18 and join the nation’s best crop of amateur cooks.
The Top 18 contestants compete in their first mystery box challenge of the season and must create a unique and delicious dish using duck and bananas. Later, the remaining amateur cooks are forced out of their comfort zone when the judges challenge them to cook an outstanding dish using unusual and intimidating ingredients. Find out which contestants make the cut after the first emotional elimination round.
The remaining sixteen contestants visit military base Camp Pendleton, CA, where they will work in teams to prepare a healthy and balanced meal for 200 servicemen and women. After judges put the contestants through culinary boot camp, the contestants return to the MASTERCHEF kitchen for an intense elimination round.
Guts are tested as the remaining fifteen contestants are challenged to create a unique dish using unconventional – and unappetizing – cuts of meat.
The judges plan a surprise trip for the amateur cooks, but the contestants are in for a rude awakening when the judges split them into teams to prepare hearty breakfast meals for hungry hotel guests. The teams must be organized and work efficiently, but tempers reach a new high during room service. Later, the losing team must prove they deserve to remain in the competition in an emotional elimination round.
A budget-friendly mystery-box challenge requires the wannabe chefs to create a gourmet meal using only $20 worth of ingredients. Later, another hopeful is sent packing.
The 12 remaining hopefuls are split into three teams for a food-truck challenge that requires them to create budget-friendly meals for beachgoers.
Graham Elliot will test his own creativity and ability to work under pressure when he joins the amateur cooks in the MASTERCHEF kitchen and whips up his own dish using only the mystery ingredients. The winner of this mystery box challenge will earn a solid advantage, but the intensity reaches a boiling point for the remaining contestants as they face a double elimination round that will send not one, but two amateur cooks packing their bags.
The remaining nine amateur cooks are faced with one of the most intimidating mystery box ingredients to date – “uni,” otherwise known as sea urchin. In a surprising twist, the contestants must incorporate the spiky culinary delicacy into their creations, and the amateur cook who presents the most exceptional uni dish will earn a significant advantage in the next round: being the one to assign each of the remaining contestants one of eight different types of fish. Find who will impress the judges and whose culinary dreams will sink.
The judges put on their cowboy boots and take the Top 8 finalists to a Southern California rodeo where they work in teams to prepare, cook and serve a hearty steak meal for 101 hungry cowboys. The winning team advances to the next round of competition, while the other amateur cooks must hop back in the saddle and compete in a heated pressure test. With elimination at stake and only twentyminutes to prepare six eggs in four different ways, the intensity reaches a boiling point.
Celebrity chef Paula Deen joins the MASTERCHEF judging panel and selects the mystery box ingredients, which include traditional Southern staples and a comforting surprise – a family photo and a letter from home. The amateur cookwho prepares the most delicious Southern-inspired dish will earn a priceless reward. Later, the winner of the previous challenge will couple the remaining six contestants who will work in pairs to cook a Japanese dish. Find out which amateur cooks will be on the chopping block in another emotional elimination round.
The Top Six finalists are in for a big surprise when the eight previously eliminated contestants return to theMASTERCHEF kitchen to compete for a chance to earn a spot back in the competition. The eager hopefuls will each select one ingredient to make up a mystery box, and they will be required to use all of the items to create a stunning dish that will prove that they deserve a second chance. After the contestants are whittled down, only two home cooks will compete head to head for a chance to win back their aprons and continue on the journey to become the nextMASTERCHEF.
Part 2 of 3. The seven remaining hopefuls find shrimp in the mystery basket, and must make standout dishes with a very limited pantry. The winner then determines which savory ingredient the others will have to incorporate into desserts in the elimination round.
The remaining six home cooks compete in a high-pressure team challenge at Hatfield’s, one of the most talked about restaurants in Hollywood. The contestants will split into two teams and replicate the award-winning restaurant’s signature dishes. The team that executes a fine dining experience which impresses the judges, restaurant owners and hungry diners will win the challenge, while the losing team will be sent into the dreaded pressure test. Later, the contestants facing elimination will have to prepare steak three different ways. Find out whose dishes will prove to be a job well done and who will be cut from the competition.
The remaining five home cooks select the mystery box ingredients they will need to create a dish that best represents who they are, but the judges surprise the contestants with a game changing twist. Later, in the elimination challenge, the home cooks will have a limited amount of time to conceptualize and recreate one ofGraham Elliot’s signature dishes that he served to President Barack Obama at his flagship restaurant. Find out whose dish is fit to impress the Commander-in-Chief and who will be sent home.
n the most intimidating challenge of the season, the final four home cooks will split into two teams to prepare an exquisite three-course meal for the judges and three world-renowned chefs: Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse and Guy Savoy. The Michelin-starred guest judges will help critique each course and evaluate each dish’s flavor, originality and culinary finesse. The winning pair will earn a spot in the Top 3, while the losing team will compete head-to-head in a heated pressure test featuring soufflé. Find out who will rise to the occasion and who will collapse under pressure.
In the next mystery box challenge, the remaining three home cooks get a taste of what it means to be the next MASTERCHEF when they each receive a cookbook with their photo on the cover. The judges challenge each home cook to reflect on their culinary journey and create an outstanding dish that best embodies their personality and passion for food. Later, the winner of the mystery box challenge will get first pick at a pair of legs – chicken, lamb, or frog – and prepare a dish worthy of a spot in the Top Two. Find out who will move one step closer to a life-changing prize and whose MASTERCHEF journey will come to an end.
The Top Two finalists have one last chance to prove to the judges that they have the passion, skill and drive worthy of the MASTERCHEF title. In their final challenge in the MASTERCHEF kitchen, the two home cooks – Josh Marksand Christine Ha - will conceptualize and prepare the most important three-course meal of their lives. Later, the judges will reveal America’s next MASTERCHEF, and the deserving home cook will walk away with a book deal and the $250,000 grand prize.