I’m not serving them, no f*cking way.

—Chef Gordon Ramsay

Knowing that Gordon is unhappy with our first dish…it’s devastating.

—Contestant Shari Mukherjee, MasterChef USA, season 10, episode 22

“Pressure,” “embarrassment,” “devastating”: these are words that commonly season episodes of MasterChef. With the eleventh series of the popular competitive cooking show imminent, it will soon be time to don aprons and sharpen knives once again, as contestants create and plate dishes that involve so many more ingredients than just food. Shows like MasterChef have become “less about how to cook and more about how to live” (Naccarato and Lebesco 2012: 48). But I would take this one step further: they are about how to survive. On MasterChef, we often see fearful wide eyes and shaky hands carrying plates to Chef Gordon Ramsay and the other judges for reckoning. These are classic stress responses to...

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