Graham Elliot, Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich
Get your appetite ready for a double-sized portion of MasterChef.
Fox's culinary competition for home cooks returns Wednesday at 8/7c with a two-hour audition episode. Untrained food enthusiasts will bring their signature dishes to the panel of judges -- Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich -- for a chance to earn a coveted white apron. The last cook standing after all the mystery box challenges and pressure tests will win a cookbook deal and a cool $250,000.
Fall TV day-by-day grid
Check out what MasterChef is serving up in its fourth season:
1. Breast milk Get it out of the way right now: Eww! One resourceful contestant decides to make her own secret ingredient in what looks to be a very innocuous mac and cheese. "That was a little controversial," Bastianich told reporters on a conference call. "It was just not something that I was going to taste. ... I know Gordon and Graham did try it. Gordon spit it out. ... It's kind of disgusting. It's a little bit like cannibalism as far as I'm concerned. I am not a fan."
2. Alternative meats Human dairy aside, other hopefuls break out less mainstream proteins in the hopes of standing out. Bear, roadkill, reptiles, beaver tail and water bugs all crossed the judges' lips. "We ate it all this year," Bastianich said. "I'd rather eat insects instead of breast milk. How's that?"
3. Culinary excellence Despite the some of the oddball ingredients and contestants, the skill level is actually higher this year than in previous seasons. "The standard of these amateur cooks is on the verge of crossing into the territory of the professionals. They're that good," Ramsay said. "I also didn't think we could beat last year. But already within four-to-five weeks, we've had to move the goal posts and up the pressure of the tests because of the standard of [the cooks]."
Check out the new fall shows!
4. A robot scientist Yes, MasterChef brings a robot to the prep table during the auditions, in addition to a whole smorgasbord of other competitors from a wide range of professions. Expect to see an ex-NFL star, a bikini waxer, an ostrich farmer, an archaeologist and even a pastor. "I love to cook and I love what it does for people," Pastor Kevin Tindell says in the premiere. "David slew Goliath, and Goliath never saw it coming."
5. A field trip Taking the competitors out of the studio is nothing new, but this season, they're going to have to prove their foraging skills when they're dropped into the wilderness and ordered to find ingredients around them. Wheat grass shots, anyone?
6. A familiar face A previous auditioner is back after the judges "broke all of America's hearts." But can this person's passion for hyperbole match his/her skills in the kitchen?
7. Gordon and Graham compete The two chef judges prove they're more than just disapproving faces when they whip out their own culinary skills. "At the wedding challenge, both Graham and Gordon cooked courses, which was very eye-opening and different because they put their food side by side with our contestants'," Bastianich said. "Graham would cook the appetizer, Gordon would cook the dessert, and the contestants cooked the entree. They knew what kind of pressure they were up against having the two judges bookend their entree."
Fox fall schedule: Bones is on the move!
8. Guest judges "A dear friend, Eva Longoria, she came and competed," Ramsay said. "Serious foodie. I mean, she eats incredibly well and she loves that kind of depth of rich flavors. ... Paula Deen [is] back on. Huge success last year with her. And she's great. I wouldn't get on the wrong side of her. She's dynamic, feisty, tenacious but bloody good."
9. Joe cries The most inscrutable judge of all, Bastianich is known for his business mentality and staring into the middle distance after tasting a dish. But during the auditions, the restauranteur and winery operator finally breaks his carefully crafted reserve when a mother and son bring their Italian zeal to the table and make him "a little misty." That's some meatloaf!
Are you excited for the new season of MasterChef?
MasterChef premieres on Wednesday at 8/7c on Fox.