Are 'MasterChef' Challenges Becoming Too Basic?

Are 'MasterChef' Challenges Becoming Too Basic?

In the first challenge for the Top 20 on season 8 of MasterChef, the contestants had a grocery bag filled with 12 ingredients any home cook would have on their shopping list, such as chicken, potatoes and ground beef. They could make any dish they wanted with the ingredients, as well as the staple pantry box, and it seems that most relied heavily on that pantry box. So, was there an actual challenge in the mystery box challenge? Could the basic challenge mean the rest of season 8 will be easy for the contestants, or will it get harder for them as the season progresses?

Basic Could Be Difficult

While I found that the ingredients were basic, I thought the challenge itself was hard. Most of the time, the contestants are given a certain task -- cook this steak this way, or bake this dessert perfectly. When given free reign over their dishes, this could be an opportunity for the contestants to really elevate the most simple of dishes. I don't think everyone did that. For example, feisty Mark made one pancake with a swirl of caramel that was supposed to look like the MasterChef logo. And Sam made meatloaf, which is fine, but it was very basic, not something worthy of the MasterChef kitchen.

As Gordon, Christina and Aaron mentioned, the challenge was set to level the playing field. In the very first challenge, giving the Top 20 their own choice of dish makes everyone equal. How they choose to present their dishes, though, is up to them and how badly they want to win.

MasterChef Twists

Despite the basic first challenge, I like the few twists and tweaks the judges are making to keep the series alive. During the battle for the aprons, the Top 40 home cooks had to prepare dishes the judges picked, instead of their own signature dishes. I found this to be difficult right off the bat, and I'm sure the ones who were sent home also found it difficult. But, I guess that's the point, and how the judges weed out those cooks who they don't think will make it during the season.

Another twist was during the elimination challenge. In a MasterChef first, the bottom three were given the exact same challenge as a way to redeem themselves. They were the only ones to head into the challenge, and there was the possibility that they could all be sent home. That's a lot of pressure, and again, a way to really allow the cooks to get creative and elevate their dishes. Heather and Sam took this personally, Mark took it as a joke. Whether they took it seriously or not, I liked the twist on the elimination process.

Will It Get Harder?

I think the challenges will only get harder from here. I always find the team challenges the hardest, and the most entertaining. Most home cooks probably aren't used to producing a mass quantity of food, nor are they used to working in a group of strangers. I imagine the judges will present them with difficult and unique team challenges, as well as some not-so-basic mystery box challenges.

I am curious to see if anything else changes throughout season 8 of MasterChef. I hope they switch up the "advantages" they give the winners of each challenge. In past seasons, the winners get to head up the team challenges or get to pick what the other contestants have to cook during elimination. I hope they've thought up a unique spin on this task too.

While MasterChef can be basic, and repetitive, each season, I still find it highly entertaining. And am constantly in awe of every contestant who walks into that MasterChef kitchen a home cook, and walks out practically a professional chef.

Did you think the grocery bag challenge was too basic? What kind of dish do you think you would have prepared for the judges? Would you have been able to elevate your dish with the basic 12 ingredients that were provided? What kind of challenges do you enjoy on MasterChef? Let us know in the comments below.

MasterChef airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Tags: Masterchef

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