MasterChef Cooks The Competition 

Citizen chefs try to impress some of the best

MasterChef airs on Mondays at 8 p.m.

Master Of Cooking Shows

Chef Gordon Ramsay is the Simon Cowell of reality TV cooking shows.

On TV's Hell's Kitchen, chefs have been trying to impress this culinary king of mean for six years in hopes of winning a giant cash prize and a spot as head chef in a four-star restaurant. On Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay consults struggling restaurateurs, telling them why their restaurants are utter shit before helping them fix the problems. On both shows, plates, profanity and put-downs are as commonplace in the kitchen as salt.

Now in its second season, Fox's MasterChef is a different kind of dish. Ramsay is again a judge, but he has renowned restaurateur Joe Bastianich and acclaimed chef Graham Elliot at his side--his own Randy and Paula but less annoying. "Citizen chefs" from all walks of life (lawyers, realtors, writers, neurosurgeons, students, houseparents, etc.) again vie for a cash prize by trying to win elimination cooking challenges. But these are people for whom cooking is a passion, not a job. And Ramsay has a different flavor as well. He's still quick to tell a cook "that is the worst dish I have ever seen in MasterChef," his British accent making the statement more biting, but he seems less disgusted than he is on Hell's Kitchen, and he even says something nice more often than not. The competition is still hectic, but the show has an overall presentation that matches the refined dishes the contestants place before the judges.

This season of MasterChef is about halfway through, but you can watch previous episodes both at fox.com/masterchef and hulu.com. And if Gordon Ramsay really is like Simon Cowell, the winner may be the next Kelly Clarkson.

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