It's just a few days before Season 5 of "MasterChef" begins its search for America's next great home cook. There are some big changes in story for the series, and not just judge Graham Elliot's 150-pound weight loss since "MasterChef Junior."
In a conference call with the press, Elliot and executive producer Robin Ashbrook spilled the beans on some of the surprises and changes you'll see in Season 5. First and foremost, the show is beginning with the Top 30 best home cooks they found during the nationwide search.
In past seasons, the judges have started with a pool of 100 and narrowed it down. Doing that allowed viewers to learn about the contestants and their point of view as cooks. "The kitchen is like our fourth judge and we wanted to get straight into the competition," Ashbrook says. "We can still understand where they're from and bond with them."
"It's fun to get right into the heart of the show," Graham adds. That heart includes challenges unlike those the show has ever seen.
For mystery boxes in Season 5, producers have cooked up something extra special. One challenge will include a box filled with canned foods. While that might not seem like much of a challenge, Ashbrook explains, "55 tin cans, but we remove all of the labels. There are some unusual things in there."
On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, there will also be a box filled with freshly-caught seafood for the cooks to turn into something delicious. Again, that's easier said than done. With such wonderful ingredients, you really have to step up your game to win.
Ashbrook also hints that there may be a challenge where the cooks are tasked with providing a romantic meal for judge Gordon Ramsay and his wife. Knowing Gordon's penchant for curse words, that should be incredibly entertaining.
As for taking the home cooks out into the world, Elliot and Ashbrook say some of the field challenges this year include cooking for a wedding, the NFL, a restaurant takeover and even preparing meals for over 500 members of the U.S. Army.
It really sounds like this is going to be the biggest season of "MasterChef" yet and it premieres Monday, May 26, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
Photo/Video credit: FOX