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The ‘MasterChef’ judges: 3 flavors of nice

'MasterChef' judges Graham Elliot, Gordon Ramsay, and Joe Bastianich
Photo by Matt Hoyle / FOX

For the fourth season in a row, “MasterChef” has been blessed with the same three great judges. Their backgrounds are different, their cooking styles are different, and their judging approaches are also different. One thing that has remained the same since the show began; however, seems to be the role each judge plays on the show – the nice, the not so nice, and the in-between. Which is which? If you watch “MasterChef” then you have probably already figured it out.

Graham Elliot - The Nice

A Chicago man, Graham Elliot grew up traveling the country with his family which enabled him to taste foods and experience cooking styles across the U.S. In less than five years and while only in his mid-30’s, Elliot already had three restaurants under his belt. Since then he has earned many honors including being named “Chef of the Year”, receiving several prestigious nominations and making appearances on a few other television shows.

Many of us know Graham Elliot currently as the nicest judge on “MasterChef”. He seems to stick to the old adage of “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all” with his more quiet demeanor. Even when he dislikes a dish, his words do not come out harsh and he appears to almost have a calming effect on the contestants.

Joe Bastianich – The Not So Nice

A native New Yorker, Joe Bastianich has established several restaurants across the country with 2011 marking his first overseas restaurant opening in Singapore. Bastianich does not stop at food; however, his talents have made him an authority on Italian wine and he operates four overseas wineries. An author and athlete as well, Bastianich’s culinary arts skills have won him awards and respect in his field.

What we also know of Joe Bastianich is that he is the not so nice, glare-giving judge on “MasterChef”. It is often hard to tell whether he likes a dish or not because all contestants seem to get the “Bastianich Glare” after his tastings. His words can be quite harsh and his actions even harsher as we have seen him toss plates and utensils more than once. Bastianich is definitely the judge to be feared on “MasterChef”.

Gordon Ramsay – The In Between

Scottish by birth but raised in England, Gordon Ramsay owns several restaurants world-wide and holds nine Michelin stars. In 1998 and only in his early-30’s, Ramsay opened his first restaurant which earned three Michelin stars in no time. Ramsay now has several television shows to his name in both the U.S. and the U.K. Ramsay is also an author, OBE (Order of the British Empire awarded by Queen Elizabeth II) recipient, and delves into home and lifestyle offerings.

Gordon Ramsay may be best known to many as the screaming, cursing, frightening Chef Ramsay on “Hell’s Kitchen”. Ramsay’s persona between the two shows is very different. There is no screaming, no cursing (usually), and no fright from him on “MasterChef” that could even compare to “Hell’s Kitchen”. Although Ramsay seems to have a tamed down approach to judging the home cooks, he can still get a little gnarly at times. For this, we see him as “the in between” judge on “MasterChef”.

The differences between the judges bring a high entertainment value to “MasterChef”. The judges are balanced, humorous, compassionate, and sure even scary at times. Their judging personas might best be compared to steak temperatures. We have rare (nice), medium (in between) and well done (not so nice) – but they all bring a great flavor!

“MasterChef” currently airs Wednesdays on Fox.


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