Here's What 'MasterChef' Contestants Get Just for Appearing on the Show

Jamie Lerner - Author

May 31 2023, Updated 8:30 a.m. ET

Gordon Ramsay and 'MasterChef' judges hold auditions
Source: Fox

It seems like each season of MasterChef is more intense than the last — harder challenges, more talented chefs, and more Ramsay-isms than ever before. And it makes us wonder if the contestants get paid for their time. Sure, they get good visibility, but many of the contestants put their lives on hold to go on MasterChef.

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Contestants returned for MasterChef Legends and there's the spinoff MasterChef Junior, so there must be something pretty great about being on MasterChef for contestants to be so anxious to be part of the franchise, right? Well, production seems to cover some things, but not as much as we might expect. Plus, now that there are iterations of MasterChef all over the world, it’s hard to tell who gets paid where.

Contestant Autumn hurries to finish a dish on 'MasterChef Legends'
Source: Fox
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‘MasterChef U.S.’ contestants don’t seem to get paid, but they can still make money.

It’s honestly pretty wild to think that MasterChef contestants wouldn’t get paid. They put their lives on hold, but they probably still have bills to pay and finances to take care of.

Not just that, but many contestants quit their jobs to be able to give the amount of time they need to film MasterChef. Plus, several other reality TV shows, such as Survivor, pay their contestants at least a stipend for appearing on the show.

It looks like MasterChef Australia gives their contestants a $630 weekly stipend, which isn’t much more than a starting chef’s minimum wage. However, MasterChef U.S. doesn’t even seem to do that. In an “Ask Me Anything” with Season 6 contestant Christopher Lu on Reddit, he responded to a question about a stipend saying, “No, we do not get a wardrobe stipend.”

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A potential 'MasterChef' contestant auditions to be on the show
Source: Fox

On other Reddit threads wondering if the MasterChef contestants get paid, several responses have said that they get nothing for appearing on the show, although we don’t know where those Redditors are getting their intel from.

Others have said that contestants get anywhere from $35 to $50 per day, which would still not be ideal. Contestants don’t have to pay for lodging while they’re on the show, although they might be purposefully roomed with their exact opposite.

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‘MasterChef’ contestants are expected to give up a portion of any income from the show.

What does that mean if they don’t get paid? Well, contestants might get paid for interviews, appearances, or merchandise that they receive because of their spot on MasterChef.

According to an editorial written by Season 3 contestant Jessie Glenn, who actually never signed her NDA, contestants who sign are forced to hand over a 15 percent “management fee” of any of that income or even gifts to One Potato, Two Potato, which is owned by Gordon Ramsay himself.

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In addition to that, in order to get cast in MasterChef, potential contestants need to pay their way to Los Angeles for the final casting. While there, about 100 potential competitors are put up in a hotel with their final audition, interviews, and psychological evaluations.

But pretty quickly, about 70 of those competitors are cut, despite the fact they paid to get their chance to be on television.

It looks like the only way to get paid for going on MasterChef is to win, in which case you’d get $250,000. That’s not too shabby, so it might be worth the price of a trip to LA for the chance to win the grand prize. It’s possible things are different on MasterChef Legends or other iterations, but that seems unlikely.

Watch MasterChef Legends on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on Fox.

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