These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Master Chef
Adaptation Displacement: Anyone remember the original original UK series? Billing itself as "the grand prix of amateur chefs", the show then was similar in principle to the remake where three chefs cooking in colour coded "kitchens" would serve three courses of their devising. Hosted by Lloyd Grossman (who lended it a very fancy upmarket feel), it was significantly more sedate than the current version to the point it could be called an adaptation In Name Only. The show pre-dated most Reality Show genre clichés being firmly in the 90s and was a lot more straightforward with chefs being judged entirely on food quality. The sad thing is it's near impossible to find episodes and it has led to a version of Sequel Displacement for those entirely unfamiliar with it, so much so that none of the examples for this show refer to it besides this one.
Base Breaker: US Season Three's Monti Carlo was this to a certain extent, as fans generally either saw her as a brilliant underdog or as not deserving of a place in the competition (fans of Ryan and Tali especially tended to take the latter position).
Season five's Leslie, who is either a rude, immature bullying jerk who holds grudges for far too long, or a good guy with skills who's frustrated with constantly being picked on. He's such an extreme case, people tend to see him as either The Scrappy or an Ensemble Darkhorse!
Season 5's Ahran used to be this until she and Leslie settled their differences and she mellowed out somewhat, although she's still despised by certain factions (and they still leave nasty comments on her Facebook page).
Yet another contestant from season 5, Cutter. Many saw him as arrogant and confrontational due to his various failures, with an unwillingness to learn and grow, while others saw him as a guy who, through those failures, has been turned into the judges' personal punching bag, likely in part due to him not taking the judges' criticism with his head down, instead stating his own opinion and wishing for more thorough feedback (as well as the instance of being quite vocal at his displeasure of the lack of teamwork with fellow contestant Dan Wu when they were paired up). The latter set of fans note that the judges treated him in a harsher way that they did any other contestant, with special mention going to Joe Bastianich, who seemed to delight in every possible opportunity to belittle and humiliate Cutter, at one point even trying to put words in Cutter's mouth.
Cutter did himself no favours when he posted photos of a hunting trip to his Facebook page featuring him posing proudly with a scimitar horned oryx (considered extinct in the wild) that he'd killed. When people voiced their concerns over the photos, he called them "trolls" and blocked them from his page.
There is also US judge Joe Bastianich. Some see him as knowledgeable, smart and having great one-liners and put-downs, others can't stand him and see him as obnoxiously arrogant and taking the "mean judge" role way too far, especially with throwing dishes into the garbage and talking to contestants like they're worthless and beneath him. Just look at some of the reviews for his book! He's disliked by fans of Ahran and Cutter in particular - he's baited both of them (Cutter in particular) into making controversial statements and then immediately after the episodes released long blog posts criticizing those contestants for said statements. For example, he coaxed Ahran into criticizing Courtney (for which she received a lot of hate), and then promptly took to his blog to say she didn't respect authority, and he "wanted to give her a lesson in decorum" before her "unbridled rage" got her kicked out of the competition. In the Cutter debacle, while judging Cutter's dish, Joe asked him if he was "living in a delusion" about his cooking, said he "sounded ignorant", and insinuated that Cutter had insulted Ramsay's palate (when Cutter asked for an explanation of why his dish was bad). When Cutter tried to explain that he didn't mean to insult anyone, Joe was rude, confrontational and made him look like an idiot. Cutter later gave an interview to explain himself, and reaffirmed that he had not intended in any way to insult the judges, unlike what Joe insisted. (Joe also threw Cutter's food into the trash while sneering at him multiple times. Granted, Cutter was nowhere near the best of season 5, but that's a bit much.) Joe even posted a blog saying that Cutter should never have made it to the top five, and implied that if he'd been there, Cutter would have been eliminated. In reply, Cutter wrote a post on his Facebook page calling Joe out, saying that Joe had only ever had nice things to say to Cutter off-camera, and that his comments were cowardly.
Another point of contention being the fact that he's the one judge in just about every version of Master Chef that is not an actual chef himself. Some fans don't mind this and state that as a successful restauranteur, he is well qualified to be a judge, whereas others figure that the fact he's not a chef makes him not as knowledgeable about food as actual chefs and that this hinders his judging capabilities. They point out examples such as his not knowing what mofongo is (one of the most well known dishes of Puerto Rican cuisine) and calling the contestant who prepared it, Bime, a faker, as well as his calling out Luca for using fish sauce in a risotto and how that is never to be done, when fish sauce has actually been utilized in risotto for ages. The latter example is especially strong for fans who believe Joe lacks sufficient knowledge to be a judge, considering it's an Italian dish, which is supposed to be Joe's specialty and what he is most knowledgeable about.
Season five's winner Courtney. Oh boy. She's either a talented, determined and beautiful young lady who got by on her own merits, or a fake, cocky, arrogant young woman with a bad attitude and mediocre cooking skills who received blatant favouritism for the judges and only won because Joe had a crush on her (there are allegations from a few different people - including a production assistant - that Courtney and Joe had an affair during her time on the show, but these are unproven).
US Season 1 winner Whitney Miller has been accused of being this, as despite her constant, major screw-ups in the elimination challenges, the judges constantly talked about how awesome and amazing she was, and the only time she ever actually faced elimination was when the decision was out of their hands, and professional food critics were deciding on the bottom two for that challenge. Alejandra from Season 2 appeared to be going the same way, though her serving raw pork to the judges in her last episode was evidently too big a screw-up for her to recover from.
Season 3's Josh was also seen as one. The judges constantly praised his food knowledge even if he didn't have one of the best dishes in challenges, and he was brought back despite a dish that just, at least to viewers, did not compare to others. The judges continued to sing praises about his knowledge, despite his landing in the bottom quite constanty since he was brought back, and strong contenders Monti, Frank and Becky got eliminated over him, getting him to the final 2.
A segment of the fandom saw season four's Luca as this to Joe Bastianich, who despite his reputation as the show's "nasty" judge actually tended to be more lenient toward Luca than Gordon or Graham were. In this case however, Luca really Took a Level in Badass in the second half of the season, going a long way to addressing the criticisms made of him earlier.
Some fans also saw Alexander from Master Chef Junior as one. The judges would always praise him perhaps just a tad more than any other child, would at times put him on the top even if his dishes had a mistake (such as the kale chips he made alongside his burgers, which Gordon said should have been baked rather than fried), and while his dish before the finals was good, it can be said it was much simpler than Jack and Dara's more technically complicated dishes which also impressed the judges. It's also believed by fans that the decision of him winning in the end was also in part by being a Creator's Pet, when noticing Gordon making a case for why Dara deserved to win based on her entire finale course, but ultimately Alexander won.
In an unusual instance, season 5's winner Courtney was accused of being this by another contestant, Ahran. An accusation which wasn't helped by the fact that in the following challenge Courtney completely screwed up her donuts by adding a ton of salt (which Gordon suspected was because she confused it for sugar) on top of not getting enough yeast from the pantry, only for her to survive over Kira, who was eliminated just because she didn't put enough filling in her donut. The judges are being accused of "fawning" over her, and she's getting flak for constantly wearing ridiculous heels and recently starting to talk in a weird, breathy flirty voice, as was evidenced in episode nine, where she repeatedly simpered "Thank you" at Graham after practically everything he said - and when she was chosen as one of the top three dishes in the challenge, Elizabeth remarked acidly "Of course they call Courtney. They always call Courtney."
The vast majority of Masterchef fans promptly exploded in rage when she won, claiming that the competition was fixed and they would be boycotting the show from now on. In reply, Joe wrote "I don’t really get what people’s issue is with her. The level of outrage toward her in some of the commentary rings loudly of schoolyard bullying. Quite frankly, that is just sad—for those commenting. Courtney has a lot of doors opening for her, and we’ll be seeing a lot more of this talented and determined young lady." People pointed out to him that he'd eliminated Leslie for using salt instead of sugar, which was something he had let Courtney get away with in the doughnut challenge, and that he himself had arguably "bullied" Ahran and (especially) Cutter. Another commenter asked exactly how Leslie had mixed the two up, because he'd been shown to be always tasting his food, and thus would have been more likely to catch the sugar/salt mistake, and yet someone else pointed out that Joe had even asked Elizabeth if she "wanted it as badly as Courtney did".
A gossip website actually wrote an article showing all the "preferential treatment" Courtney got as "proof" of the show being fixed (although given the source, that should be taken with a large quantity of salt. A comment from Reddit sums up people's attitude towards her pretty succinctly: "Mac & Cheese with lobster and a quail egg? For my little brother. Tee hee! Bollocks. Courtney could give them a plate of cat litter on toast and they'd fall all over themselves to say how she elevated it into ambrosia." There are also allegations that said little brother is in fact her son, and people became even more irked when it turned out that her much squabbled over heels were Louboutins, which run for $700-$1000 on average. What was that about not having money for college, Courtney?
Season 5's Leslie initially seemed to be this for Joe. It's notable that almost none of the other contestants (with the exception of Willie and now Ahran) could stand him (with Cutter and Daniel giving interviews saying that Leslie seemed very self-obsessed even in real life), and while Graham and Gordon treated him the same as any other contestant, Joe almost always went out of his way to praise him and often subtly mocked the other chefs in the process. In episode 8, after several of the other chefs had voiced complaints over Leslie's behaviour (including his immaturity and Never My Fault tendencies) and treatment of them, Joe smiled at Leslie and reassured that it was himself, Graham and Gordon who decided who won, not the other contestants. Leslie would later finish in third place while Joe's (arguable) other favourite Courtney won.
Tali from the US season 3. He made only one dish the judges really liked (his strawberry shortcake), whereas the rest of his dishes have ranged from average to downright terrible, and he's been in the bottom two a total of three times. It's all made worse by the fact that he has quite a big ego, thinks his food is amazing and the judges just don't understand him. However, he finally got eliminated in the Top 9 (though he still talked of how the judges couldn't "see the genius").
David Martinez also from US season 3. So much so that when eight previously-eliminated contestants were competing to return to the competition, virtually all of them said that he did not deserve to still be in the running.
Josh from US season 3 eventually became this after he was brought back, landing constantly in the bottom but still managing to stay.
An especially shocking moment was when he and Monti were both up for elimination, and the judges sent Monti home, despite Josh having every advantage in the challenge (he had been given a basket with all the required ingredients while the others had to decipher for themselves what was needed from a taste test), and also chose to add ingredients to Graham's recipe in the belief that he could make it better. Needless to say, many viewers were shocked when Monti was given the boot instead.
Krissi from US season 4. Despite her consistently bad attitude towards everyone (even the judges) and cooking performance throughout the season(including having lost in every single team challenge except for a tag-team one), she has inexplicably escaped elimination every time. The judges tend to seem far less critical about her failures than they are to other contestants and actually praise her "bloody good effort" despite flaws on her dishes, and she has also shown an inability to move away from her comfort zone, something other contestants are more willing to do. She was finally eliminated in 4th place, ending her run in a Pressure Test after she singlehandedly cost her team a challenge (which she, instead, blamed on her partner)largely because she stormed off.
Cutter from US season 5. He was in the bottom two/three ten times before being eliminated in fourth place, while chefs like Francis B. and Kira were eliminated despite Kira having only ever won challenges and Francis B. being widely acknowledged as one of the better chefs in the competition. In episode nine, Ramsay told him that he was a disappointment to the Masterchef kitchen for constantly being so bad, and it was pure luck that Elise was worse than him.
Elise would also rank here with multiple failures, including barely skating by the first episode, baking pies (which were supposed to be her speciality) that didn't rank highly. She seemed more lucky than anything though, as she has either been on the winning team or been spared from elimination/pressure tests. She was finally eliminated in episode nine after suffering a borderline mental breakdown, then being unable to make pasta.
Leslie is also worthy of a mention. He was a decent to excellent chef in individual challenges, but whether through bad luck or inability to work with others properly, was in six pressure tests, surviving all of them. For comparison, the most pressure tests any chef prior to Leslie had managed to survive was the previously mentioned Krissi, who was eliminated on her 5th pressure test.
The energetic, emotive, and well-dressed Luca was this even when he auditioned for and was cut from US Season 3, and it only escalated when he returned and was a contestant in Season 4, to the point where he may have the biggest fandom for any contestant that season.
Dara from the first MasterChef Junior season, who not only became the first (and to date, only) US contestant to make it to the final without ever once being put up for elimination, but didn't get a single bad comment about any of the dishes she made in the entire course of the season. By contrast that season's eventual winner, Alexander won more challenges overall, but also had a couple of absolutely disastrous dishes along the way.
Season 5 has five:
Francis Legge. He's cool, calm, and collected with amazing fashion sense (in episode 10, he wore a black blazer, purple shirt, and a freaking KILT). He can also cook like nobody's business.
Christine. Takes no crap from anyone, constantly helps her team win challenges and is one hell of a leader. Some fans say she reminds them of Chef Andi from Hell's Kitchen! Her case is especially noteworthy because she had not been featured much, but once she was given the spotlight, fans instantly took a great liking to her.
Which made it even sadder when they got the boot in two consecutive weeks, as Christine finished 12th and Francis 11th.
In an interesting turn of events, Ahran's elimination resulted in a massive outcry to bring her back, and she now has more likes on her Facebook page than any of the other chefs! Not bad considering how... divisive she was originally.
Elizabeth Cauvel. As she became one of the obvious frontrunners, fans started to pay more attention to her. It helped that she had a very obvious dislike of Courtney and often said things the viewers were thinking (see Creator's Pet above).
We can also count Leslie as well. Love him or hate him, he pretty much earned the respect of his critics in the end.
Foregone Conclusion: Many fans saw Alexander's victory in Master Chef Junior since the first couple of episodes. While there is no denying how genuinely talented and deserving he is, many fans do think there was a certain degree of favoritism from the judges when it came to him.
A lot of people suspected that Courtney would win the fifth US season for the same reason, and they were right.
Hey, It's That Guy!: Season 5's Leslie is Melissa Joan Hart'sstepfather◊. Melissa herself would later take to the Masterchef Facebook page in anger after Leslie was eliminated in the finale, basically insinuating that the show was rigged and urging people to watch something else.
Only Sane Man: Francis L. and Christine from season 5. Neither gets involved with the drama of the others (although Christine did step in once to defend Ahran against Leslie, who was screaming in her face), and they're both talented and born leaders. This has done much to endear them to the viewers, who are getting sick of the drama being favored over the actual cooking.
Sadly, Christine and Francis were cut at 12th and 11th place respectively, as they both delivered their first dishes that landed them even NEAR the bottom (Christine made bitter-tasting chocolate truffles, while Francis L. made a caramelle drenched in juice from uncooked beets).
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Season 5's rivals Ahran and Leslie, who had both managed to irk a large number of fans, won a lot of people over in episode 7, where Courtney paired them together to create a surf-and-turf dish, and they worked together perfectly, creating a well-received dish that resulted in the two of them sharing a hug. After they were declared safe, Ahran said she would gladly work with Leslie again.
Leslie even comments on Ahran's Facebook page now, and has publicly complimented her, saying "I have immense respect for the girl. I think she's very talented. She's young, she's beautiful. The world's at her feet. She has everything ahead of her, and it's up to her to make it happen."
Leslie is an interesting case - as long as he keeps his mouth shut and his head down, people generally seem to like him. Once he starts squabbling with the other contestants, he's right back in Scrappy territory.
This was only furthered by the revelation that she had racist comments and rape jokes on twitter in the past, and other more minor offenses such as conspiring and succeeding in getting Bime eliminated, constantly complaining about being picked last in team challenges and having to cook in pressure tests despite it being shown she doesn't work well with teams, and saying that a fellow contestant was "just like the girls she used to beat up in high school".
Season five's Courtney. Always wore sky-high heels (which turned out to be the insanely expensive Louboutins) and (some feel) garish lipstick, and had a very entitled attitude. She also managed to almost ruin doughnuts, and many fans believed the only reason she wasn't eliminated was because the judges favored her (and her winning another challenge despite one of the elements of her dish being burnt seems to support that - many viewers commented on the judges "fawning" over her). In the episode with Luca and Alexander, she's acquired a new very forced breathy voice, which many found incredibly grating. They're also very suspicious about how she complained to have no money for college tuition, yet somehow had a new pair of Louboutins for every episode. Her father didn't help matters any when he started attacking people on the Masterchef Facebook page for disliking her, and she herself only dug deeper when she complained about having to do something she "wasn't proud of" to try to get through school - and people then discovered photosof herwinning (or coming in second in) several "Best Overall Stripper of the Year" competitions while smiling and generally acting excited and happy.
Someone discovered that Courtney is a personal friend of a former Masterchef winner, which sparked further accusations of competition fixing and after she won, there were several "Congrats, Masterchef has just lost another viewer!" comments. It wasn't helped any that her dessert was arguably worse than Elizabeth's (Elizabeth hadn't cooked her dessert completely and solved the problem by putting up only outside edges - where were properly cooked - while Courtney's dessert was remarked upon as being "possibly the messiest she's ever served"). Also, Elizabeth was the only chef to have never taken part in any pressure tests (unlike Courtney). In all fairness though, Elizabeth did not do the best job on her proteins. (She overcooked her Octopus and the lamb she served Joe was close to raw)
Also from season 5 is Leslie, at least In-Universe: many contestants (most notably Daniel and Cutter, and initially Ahran) have made it clear that they don't like him, and while the fans initially agreed, lately "team Leslie" comments have been the most-liked comments on most posts on Master Chef's Facebook page.
Seasonal Rot: The fourth US season is seen as this by many fans, being considered to the weakest season and quite a downfall from the well liked third season, mainly because of so many contestants being out of focus to the point where we barely got to know some of them at all, and the heavy focus and emphasis on drama and contestants with bad attitude (namely Krissi and also Natasha) rather than on the cooking itself.
The spin-off, Master Chef Junior, was seen as this even before it began, with fans feeling it would be a dumbed down version of the show because of the competitors being children. But once it began, it actually averted this, being well received by fans and critics thanks to the focus on good food and the culinary skills of the contestants (and helped by the judges being positive yet firm and never spoiling the kids), and was generally seen as a breath of fresh air after the drama-ridden season 4 of the adult version.
Tear Jerker: As hated as Krissi is, it did hurt to see her alone when everyone had a family member come visit. Her son couldn't come. Even Joe shed a few tears. Natasha, who has a rivalry with her, also expressed sympathy.
The cyber-bullying Ahran received was awful (people telling her to go kill herself, that she "needed to learn her place", etc). She recently gave an interview where she said that dealing with people on social media was harder than the actual competition for her! She still gets hate from time to time, but she's now the most-liked Masterchef contestant on Facebook.
A milder version with Courtney. After her win, she's been getting furious hatred from people on Facebook (posts on the official Masterchef page criticizing her have over a thousand likes) and Twitter, including people hoping she dies in an accident - cooking or otherwise - or uses the money to "fix her ugly beak". Even Krissi, of all people, lashed outat herin anger.
What the Hell, Hero?: Elizabeth's remarks after Courtney won could be seen as this. She posted "Remember when the stripper won?" the day after the finale aired, and then wrote a nasty tweet◊ saying "If you need me, I'll be over here providing a good example to your daughters #masterchef #classy". She later deleted the tweet, but the damage had been done.