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Behind the Scenes: MasterChef Casting Call, Miami

Behind the Scenes: MasterChef Casting Call, Miami
Jacob Katel

Gordon Ramsay is an asshole -- that's why he's fun to watch. So let's all watch him make amateur cooks feel like shit about themselves and their crappy food.

MasterChef is new to FOX, but the program is already a UK and Australia phenomenon that has broken television viewing records in the latter country. MasterChef originated in 1990 with the BBC. The show will run abroad at least through 2011.

And now, the program is coming to America and will be hosted by Gordon Ramsay. The program features all amateur chefs -- no professionals allowed and no formal training either -- cooking their way to fame and fortune, and battling for kitchen supremacy in a weekly cookoff.

3 Ball Productions (The Biggest Loser, Breaking Bonaduce, Beauty and the Geek) and Reveille Productions (Date My Mom, Ugly Betty, The Office) are producing MasterChef. Yesterday, they came to Miami looking for victims, um, future stars.

Here's our behind-the-scenes look.

The Judges and Casting folks
The Judges and Casting folks

Judges Robbie Bell (left), Michael Jacobs, and Frank Randazzo with casting director Goloka Bolte and Cassie.

Applicants were instructed to cook and bring one dish with them. The judges tried the food, rated it on a score card, and conducted short interviews.

Robbie Bell sells real estate and cohosts a radio show called Join Us at the Table.

Michael Jacobs is a principal in Strategic Hospitality Group, a "restaurant in a box."

Chef Frank Randazzo owns Talula restaurant in Miami Beach with his wife, Andrea Curto Randazzo, and operates Creative Tastes Catering.

The score card.
The score card.

Robbie Bell said, "It's been interesting. I've had ceviche to the third power, shrimp to the third power. Cold collard greens are not cute. The best dish I've had so far was a pork loin with andouille sausage with a spicy mango chutney."

Judging setup.
Judging setup.
Interviewing prospective contestants.
Interviewing prospective contestants.

Michael Jacobs said, "This is their chance, so they're showing their chops. I love to see the passion of the people who come in. There was a woman who was forced to learn how to make crab rangoon because her delivery orders were so slow. It wasn't great, but she said, 'Dammit, if I can't get what I want, I'll make it myself," and I thought that was great. The best dish I've had so far was a smoked brisket and a smoked pork loin that this guy served on a mirror."

Somebody's dish with applicants in background.
Somebody's dish with applicants in background.

Frank Randazzo said, "I came in hungry -- so far, no palate fatigue. I'm impressed with the level of food a lot of people came in with. I thought it would be awful, but there have been a lot of really great cooks and flavors. The worst thing I tried so far was a bowl of mussels. The best was a dish of carnitas -- y'know, the little pork tacos."

An in house TV production crew was on hand documenting the scene as well.
An in house TV production crew was on hand documenting the scene as well.

 

Outside looking in.
Outside looking in.

Casting director Goloka Bolte said, "We just came from New York City; people were camped out in 15-degree weather. We created a huge traffic jam. So far in Miami [around 4 p.m.], we've seen a couple hundred people. We start filming in L.A. in March, and contestants may be filmed for up to five weeks. People drove down from all over Florida for this. I always hope they made something good when they travel that far. This show is all about the food."

Live cooking a bass fish.
Live cooking a bass fish.
Meatballs and garlic bread entry.
Meatballs and garlic bread entry.
A "you may be filmed" disclosure.
A "you may be filmed" disclosure.
Filling out the application
Filling out the application

We caught up with Marie outside as she was filling out her application. She said, "This application is unbelievable -- it's like 11 pages long. I brought a vegetarian pasta. I've been a vegetarian all my life, well, since I was 17, about 40 years ago. I just finished writing my own vegetarian cookbook yesterday. I'm here because I need a job and it looks like fun. I found out about it on the Internet, on Craigslist."

Good luck, Marie.


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