Joe Bastianich, Graham Elliot and Gordon Ramsay

MasterChef (premiering tonight at 9/8c on Fox) is kinda like American Idol but with a tasty twist: Amateur chefs compete for $250,000 and the chance to have their own cookbook published. Serving up the critiques to the home cooks, who'll be whittled down from 50 to 30 in the first two episodes? Caustic British culinary mastermind Gordon Ramsay, the sharp-tongued star of Hell's Kitchen. Here, he gives us the recipe for creaming the competition.

1. Cook with amore! "What we're really looking for is someone with an overwhelming passion for food," says Ramsay. "That's the main ingredient!"

2. Get creative. "In one challenge, I'll ask the contestants to make a stunning dish using just one egg. Only the most creative contestants will survive."

3. Know thy pantry. "A Master Chef needs to have the most amazing palate and food knowledge. They must be able to identify ingredients by taste, smell and sight in order to truly master them."

4. Simplicity rules. "Many contestants tried to serve complex, pretentious dishes that just ended up being a bloody mess. The key is to keep it simple, fresh and delicious."

5. Keep it real. "A Master Chef will always be true to [his] own culinary roots—authenticity is key. We judges will often push contestants out of their own cooking comfort zones to learn about other cuisines and flavors. But without a doubt, the best dishes are always the ones that come straight from the heart."

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