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Interview with Christina Tosi and
Adeline Ramage Rooney of "Masterchef" on
FBC PUBLICITY: MasterChef
May 13, 2015/10:00 a.m. PDT
Adeline Ramage Rooney
Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by
and welcome to the MasterChef conference call. At this time,
phone participants are in a listen-only mode. In a moment,
there’ll be an opportunity for your questions. Instructions
will be given at that time. As a reminder, this conference
is being recorded.
I’d now like to turn the conference over to Laurence
Glasscock. Please go ahead.
Laurence: Hi, everyone. Good morning, good afternoon and
welcome to the MasterChef Season 6 conference call with our
new MasterChef judge Christina Tosi and Executive Producer,
Adeline Ramage Rooney. Season 6 of MasterChef premieres with
a two-hour event on Wednesday, May 20th from 8 p.m. to 10
p.m. on Fox.
At this time I would like to open the call up for questions
and hand it over to Christina and Adeline.
Moderator: (Operator instructions.)
Moderator: Our first question will come from Maxine Brown
with Fox Digital. Please go ahead.
Maxine: Hi. Thank you, guys, for taking the call. We’re
really looking forward to this season. My question is for
Adeline. How would you describe the dynamic between the
judges now that Christina has joined Gordon and Graham, and
what’s your favorite part about their interaction? And then
as a follow-up for Christina, what’s your favorite part
about being on the panel with the guys?
Adeline: Hi, there. Thank you so much for your fantastic
question. The dynamic is phenomenal. It’s very different. I
think you see a new side of both Gordon and Graham, but the
floor is really given over to Christina who comes with such
an amazing wealth of experience.
I think her—the faces of all the female contestants lit up,
as did the guys, I have to say, when she walked in the room
it was finally like wow. There’s definitely something very
fresh and exciting and new and inspiring that comes from
having a woman on the panel.
But the great thing as well, we got over the fact that she’s
a woman pretty quickly, and really it’s just all the other
angles that Christina brings. She’s very young. She’s very
dynamic. She has her own empire booming over on the east
coast and that was an incredible inspiration. Not just for
the contestants, but for Gordon and Graham as well. They are
really excited by everything that Christina brings to the
She is obviously a phenomenal pastry chef, and incredibly
experienced in some of the finest restaurants in New York
before she started her own empire. So she brings something
very, very fresh and dynamic and it’s good to have some
There’s a very different dynamic between them than there was
having three guys on the panel as you can imagine. The jokes
are a little bit cleaner, I would say but not—
Christina: Just a little. No, I’m just joking. Adeline, you
gave me way too many compliments. I have had such a blast
joining the team and just being a part of the show overall.
I think the dynamic between Gordon, Graham and I is really
interesting because we all come different places and
perspectives on food.
Every chef has a different take on tips and tricks and
techniques and flavor pairings, and I think that they
dynamic that the three of us bring individually, whether
we’re disagreeing or whether we’re agreeing, always brings
such great intrigue to the judging table and just to
mentoring the home cooks throughout the season.
Adeline: I think what was also phenomenal—it’s Adeline
again—was Christina’s ability to stand up for what she
believes in immediately. Like with the first tasting, she
disagreed with Gordon. We were like wow, oh great this is
going to work. Because you know he is right most of the
time, but there is room for other opinions at times also.
And we love that and Gordon loves that too.
Maxine: That sounds really fun. Thank you so much.
Adeline: Thank you. Thank you for the great question.
Moderator: Our next question comes from Kristina Smith with
Fox. Please go ahead.
Kristina: Hi. Thank you, guys, so much for taking the call.
We appreciate it. This is for both of you. I know you’re
celebrating a huge milestone this season with 100 episodes.
I was just wondering what we can expect from that? Any other
surprises this season?
Adeline: Do you want to answer, Christina?
Christina: Yes. I’ll take that one. I think for me, being a
part of the 100th episode celebration was so exciting,
because when you think about the scope of television shows
nowadays 100 episodes is an incredible milestone. And for me
getting—having just joined the team and getting to be a part
of that celebration was so powerful towards the team, and
the brand, and what I am now a part of in the family that
I’m now a part of.
It certainly encapsules my level of enthusiasm, my level of
pride for the team, but also to see how accomplished 100
episodes really, really stands for in television this day
and age, especially a culinary competition, is incredible.
I think this season there are so many incredible surprises.
First and foremost, as Adeline mentioned, from me stepping
out onto the patio and seeing the looks on both the women’s
faces and the men’s faces to the challenges that we’re
The home cooks coming into this competition are so skilled.
They’ve watched every season of MasterChef. The access that
they have to information, technique, ingredients has become
so vast that they’re coming with such a vast array of skill
and knowledge, and such a deep understanding of culinary
tips and tricks and techniques. And it has required us to
raise the bar to almost go back to the Board even during a
season to say—if we give them this—we need to raise the bar
on this challenge even because they’re that good. Also—
Christina: —in being a pastry chef and being a judge, we have
a variety of really, really tricky and surprising dessert
and pastry challenges. I think that’s an incredible—for me,
of course, that is my love and my passion and that, for me
is one of the really, really, really exciting things to
anticipate and look out for in this season.
The greatest part of those challenges as well is to see
these home cooks that may not feel as comfortable and
confident in the dessert base watching them grow, and
watching them succeed and watching ones that feel incredibly
confident in the dessert base maybe be truly challenged.
Also, watching Gordon and Graham through the challenges as
well. Because I think the one thing that people forget is
that in order to be a great chef, you have to be well versed
in sweet and savory. And I think that’s the point that we’re
really driving home this season more so than any other
I think the thing that people forget as well is that Gordon
was once a pastry cook long, long ago, and Graham has his
bistro. He doesn’t have a pastry chef. He has to be both the
savory chef and the pastry chef. These guys are just as well
versed in pastry and savory as they are in savory and I, the
same vice versa.
That is the real shock and surprise you see in a lot of
these challenges and a lot of these home cook’s faces coming
in to the MasterChef kitchen.
Adeline: I think that—Sorry, Christina, to butt in there—But
I think that’s what was also incredibly surprising for
myself and Robin, our other exec producer and Gordon as an
exec was we knew Christina was going to be incredible on the
dessert front. We took a little bit more of a gamble on
savory sites simply because her accomplishments in that
arena are not as visible, if you like. But we were blown
away by her knowledge of not only the savory world, but of
numerous ethnicities and cuisines, and that was very, very
exciting to us to know that we could do a challenge where
Christina would take the reins in the savory challenge.
I think some of our viewers may be vaguely concerned that
the show’s going to turn in to an old dessert show or baking
competition and it’s not, but it’s got all the exciting
elements of that. But Christina is bringing such an
all-rounded, 360 degree view on culinary perspective that I
think that will be exciting and a bit of a surprise to the
Kristina: Thank you both so much.
Christina: Thank you.
Adeline: Thank you.
Moderator: (Operator instructions.) We’ll go to Kylie Grant
with TV.com. Please go ahead.
Kylie: Hi. Thank you guys so much for taking this call with
Adeline: Thank you.
Kylie: I have a quick question on this new upcoming season. I
was wondering how the contestants are this year compared to
year’s past and how, Christina, it is working with
contestants in this new job?
Adeline: Well, I can answer, because Christina, it’s
obviously her first year and she’s been a huge fan of the
show, but she’s not worked with those previous season
contestants face-to-face. I’ve been around since Season 1.
As Christina referenced in our previous question and answer,
she—the standard has grown exponentially every season. I
think what Christina says is correct in that when people are
coming to try out for MasterChef now they do their homework.
So they watch an entire season. They binge view even if they
watched it when it was actually airing. They then binge view
as it comes up to their audition.
They’re coming year-on-year with a greater skill set, with
more confidence to try new things, with a real understanding
of the expectations that will be on them. They’re not
surprised now. They may be a little bit frightened, but
they’re not surprised when they lift a box and there’s a
live crab or ten live crabs or a lobster or something moving
under there. They’re willing to take anything that’s thrown
at them, which is a big difference from what we saw in the
first couple of seasons when to most people it was a new
concept, a new show, and they were shocked with everything
we threw at them.
Nowadays, people are coming and they’ve practiced doing live
lobster at home. They’ve practiced. They all come and they
say oh my family and I do a mystery box every night, every
Friday night or we pretend we’re doing a field challenge
when we do barbeques and we put ourselves in teams. So
that’s really exciting seeing that growth of our audience,
because everyone who comes on the show is pretty much a
viewer and a fan of the show now. So it’s exciting to know
that’s going on in homes around America.
So I can say with my hand on heart that every year we’re
blown away by just how much stronger every single contestant
is coming. There aren’t people coming now who say I didn’t
know I was even going to have to bake. They come knowing
that they’re going to have to have a few good stat staple
baking recipes under their—in their armor as well. So that’s
super exciting. Christina, do you want to answer the
Christina: Yes. I’m afraid—can you repeat the question? You
were just breaking up.
Kylie: Yes. Just how it is working with the contestants and
the relationship you’ve been building with them, and how
you’ve enjoyed it so far.
Christina: It’s an incredible feeling. I have a team of 190
at Milk Bar. So being a teacher, being a leader, being a
mentor in all walks of the kitchen is something that I
really feed off of, and it’s been incredible to bring that
into the MasterChef kitchen. I think that the really fun
part about maybe the first episode or the first two episodes
is that there’s a moment of feeling one another out, where
they’re not sure what to expect from me and of me and maybe
arguably so vice versa.
I’m still at the very beginning figuring out well, what does
potential look like to me in a home cook and what does—how
can I help understand each of these home cooks and
understand where their strengths are, and understand what’s
going to be challenging to them, and understand how to best
mentor them. Because everyone learns a little bit
differently. Everyone takes feedback a little bit
differently. So those first two episodes are very much like
the feeling out period and the relationship-building phase,
which for me is just as exciting as the time when you
actually find your groove.
I think the one thing that is surprising to the home cooks
at first is that they do maybe want to think of me just as a
pastry chef, and think that if I’m not baking a cake that
Christina might not be as helpful or that she might not have
as much feedback. And I think that’s something that I
demystified pretty quickly and that I have a very strong
opinion about basically anything and everything
food-related, and that I am also a voice of reason.
I think that my relationship with the home cooks—because at
the end of the day, I am a female—I probably have a
different type of warmth and nurturing approach to how I
communicate with them but I, also at the end of the day, am
a professional chef. So the ability to get down to the
bottom of it and real talk and cut through the nonsense when
there is nonsense is also just as severe as the more gentle
encouraging moments. I’m a little bit of both. That’s who I
am as person. That’s who I am as a chef. And that’s who I am
as a mentor in the kitchen at Milk Bar and that’s absolutely
what I bring to the MasterChef kitchen.
For me, I think the parts of mentoring the home cooks that I
love the most is when they’re failing, or when they’re
flailing, or faltering, and when they’re not even sure of
themselves in what they’re doing, and being able to get in
there during a cook or being able to get in there in a
tasting and be a part of where they have really been
challenged and then watching them recover from that, and
watching them taking the feedback, and watching them growing
from the mistakes as much as they grow from their successes.
And that for me is my favorite part of mentoring and what I
really, really loved about my time spent with the home cooks
Kylie: Awesome. Thank you so much.
Adeline: I think to jump in again, there was an interesting
episode with one contestant, one of the earlier episodes,
and we see them because as Christina said the judge—the
contestants were very much trying to feel their way
around—they really, most of them were completely surprised
when Christina walked out and they did not know that—we
hadn’t announced it formally at that point that Christina
was joining the panel. So to see this gorgeous woman and
many of them absolutely know Christina and her brand
intimately. Some didn’t know her as well.
But we had a moment where one male contestant, who shall
remain nameless but it will become apparent if you watch the
show, tried his hand at flirting a bit with Christina and
that got shutdown immediately by Christina and it made for
very interesting television. But I think that just really,
for me anyway, it really set the ground rules on that front.
We have female contestants who try and flirt with the
judges. That has happened in the past and it doesn’t work
basically, but has always made for interesting viewing. And
it was quite interesting watching that dynamic just being
turned on its head. [Indiscernible].
Christina: Yes. I think those are fun moments where the role
of being a woman and the role of being a chef has those
interesting moments in the kitchen, and in the episodes and
amongst the cooks, the home cooks. Because inevitably, I
think we look at our roles and we know our roles as being
those as mentors, and we really are so incredibly invested
in giving them the utmost feedback and giving them the
utmost real life/real world experience in working next to
chefs, working with chefs that are mentoring them as
possible. They come in so passionate. But at moments they
lose that sense of being in the kitchen and they have these
moments of, at least on my behalf, wanting to look at me as
a female or play two [indiscernible] to that face and—
Adeline: Also I think, Christina, you probably agree, it’s
something also to do with the fact that you are young.
You’re younger than a lot—
Christina: For sure, for sure.
Adeline: —of the contestants. You’ve achieved so much but
you’re—they’re looking at you thinking how come you’re this
successful when you’re five or ten years younger than me and
you’re a girl, which has been a really interesting and
exciting thing to watch play out when they suddenly are like
oh yes that’s why you’re successful, because you’re actually
Christina: Fair enough. No, you’re right, though. You’re
absolutely right. I forget that because I live in it every
Adeline: Because you’re an old soul.
Christina: I’m an old soul. I am.
Moderator: Our next question will come from Krista Chain with The
TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.
Krista: Hi, Christina.
Krista: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. My
question is for you. I was just wondering since this is your
first year what are some of the challenges that you’ve had
to deal with?
Christina: Well, I think it’s a great question. I think that
because it is my first season there’s absolutely been the
feeling out of the dynamic on the show. As we were
mentioning before, the dynamic of walking out onto that
patio, in a dress dressed like a girl and just watching the
faces of these home cooks try and understand what’s
happening, try and understand what that’s going to mean for
them, and trying to figure out how they can adjust, what
they think they’re going to do to get ahead, and maybe what
they might mean for challenges. Which of course, one would
be pointed to many more dessert and sweet pastry challenges.
I think for me, my challenges have been figuring out, like I
mentioned before, what can I bring to the mentorship of
these home cooks? What do I consider potential in a home
cook? What am I looking for in the next MasterChef? What
does that mean to me? And how can I pull the most out of
each of these home cooks? How can I give them the advice?
Which one of these home cooks is more serious than another
and which one of these home cooks is more open-minded about
learning and growing than another?
Inevitably, the time that I might spend with a home cook
during the cook time of a challenge is different than the
time that Graham or Gordon might spend and figuring out what
that means for me as a judge. In the confines of a dish, of
an end dish at the end of a challenge, where I see the most
potential. Inevitably, for me in a good dish—in a dish in
general there’s always good and there’s always bad.
There’s always places where someone maybe took a risk and
succeeded, and there are places in any dish good or bad
where there’s room for improvement. And figuring out how I
weight those things and how I gauge the priority of
something that might taste amazing but presentation might be
lacking, versus a plate that looks beautiful but the depth
might be less so.
And just feeling out where—trying to identify within myself
what that looks like as a judge, and figuring out how to use
that and give the utmost productive feedback to these home
cooks to really challenge them, but inevitably to make them
shine, and to allow them to succeed in the competition and
then anywhere else that they choose to take their passion
for food outside of the kitchen.
Krista: Okay. Well, thank you.
Christina: Thank you.
Moderator: The next question comes from Shaun Clark with Chef
TV. Please go ahead.
Shaun: Hi, guys. Thanks for talking to us today.
Christina: Hi, Shaun.
Adeline: Thank you.
Shaun: Fox just announced on Monday that MasterChef Junior is
premiering Friday for this fall which is really exciting for
the show. Where are you guys on production of the new season
and, Christina, how has the experience been working with
these young chefs for the first time?
Christina: Adeline, I’ll let you speak to the production.
Adeline: We are wrapped from production and about to start
post. It’s again, I can say hand on heart it’s the best
season yet. We have kids that are now have—it’s age 8 to 13
and we have kids who are coming to this show having grown up
with MasterChef, the adult show. So they don’t actually
remember a time when MasterChef wasn’t on. So they are very
familiar with the format and the way that it works.
We also have kids for the first time this year who never
started cooking until MasterChef Junior was on, and we have
one kid in particular who that’s their story. The standard
that that child has achieved in just the two years that
MasterChef Junior has been on the air will blow you away.
We have kids that are coming to that show now who are
literally like chefs, like really experienced line cooks in
restaurants. It’s really pretty staggering because you’ve
got kids now who are not just taking ballet or not taking an
extracurricular sports program necessary. They are taking
cooking classes with professional chefs after school. So
we’re super excited.
I know this a call about MasterChef Season 6, but we are
beyond excited about Junior and Christina was phenomenal on
it. She may not be a parent herself, but as she said in this
call before, she’s an incredible mentor. I said parent. Not
a parent yet anyway, but she is an incredible mentor and a
leader and a mother-figure to her 200 strong team in her
I think that level of leadership and motherly quality really
came out in the show and I think it’s really going to be
exciting for viewers to watch. Young girls in particular
again, just seeing a young woman standing up there who has
achieved everything that Christina has achieved is just
Gordon has always brought a lot of young female chefs
through his restaurants and business empire. Some of his
strongest chefs like his [indiscernible] who run his
three-star [indiscernible] three-star restaurant in London
is a woman, and he has numerous women coming through the
ranks. Then we think that it’s been a massive inspiration to
young women to look at food as a really valid career option
and something that can bring them a lot of pleasure, and joy
Christina: Yes. I think to Adeline’s point, one of the most
exciting things about the announcement that I’d be joining
MasterChef Junior as well was the amazing reception that I
received personally amongst parents of young girls. I
suppose sometimes we forget that young girls that are so
passionate about cooking how excited they are to see a
female role model as a judge on the show. I think that
reception for me has been the most incredible.
I very much operate with a young-at-heart mentality, though
I am every bit a grown up and professional. I think I always
balance that with a very young-at-heart child—celebrating
the child in you. I certainly run a bakery that serves
desserts and I think that comes with the job, the passion
for the job.
I have many, many nieces and nephews, and I think the time
that I spend with them in the kitchen is probably my
favorite time. I was a home cook before I was anything else
and being able to mentor the young home cooks on MasterChef
Junior, for me, I see so much of myself in them and I think
the same rings true with Gordon and Graham.
Seeing these kids discovering their passion for food at that
really amazing age: eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. It’s
that age where you are—your brain is a sponge and you’re
laser focused, but you’re also fearless in this sense of how
you work with ingredients and how you question things in the
world that’s specifically in the kitchen. And your ability
to be given a challenge, to approach it with a fearlessness,
and to lose yourself in the challenge; to let your
imagination run wild and then to create this amazing dish
with this sense of fearlessness in the kitchen was probably
my favorite thing that I could expect day in and day out
going to work while we were filming MasterChef Junior.
I love being around the spirit of the kids. My favorite
thing about them is that they haven’t quite developed that
filter of—you know the adults, they’re grown up. And I think
there’s that sentiment of when you’re grown up and you enter
into MasterChef, you’re expected to know everything, and
you’re expected to know every ingredient and every
technique, and that’s what will prove that you are the next
MasterChef. But what they forget is that our role is as
judges but we also see our role as mentors.
The kids are not afraid to come into a challenge and say I
don’t know what this is, I haven’t worked with this, I don’t
know that but I’m ready to learn. On that level, because
they’re able to lower their guard so quickly, we’re able to
connect with them and teach them so much more.
And to Adeline’s point, they come in with this amazing vast
knowledge of food because they’ve watched MasterChef Junior
for as long as they can remember. The one home cook that
Adeline was mentioning before, he—this home cook is going to
blow your mind when you see how much skill and technique and
culinary perspective has been—
Adeline: In two years.
Christina: —[indiscernible] into a short amount of time
purely inspired by watching MasterChef Junior. Which, of
course again, I’m going to go ahead, take a leap of faith
and speak for you as well, Adeline, in saying that’s what
makes our job day in and day out so exciting is knowing how
powerful that passion, that translation of passion and the
call [indiscernible] to action in the home kitchen is,
especially amongst these kids.
Laurence: Thank you, everyone, so much. That concludes our conference
call today. Just as a reminder, the first two hours of
MasterChef premiere on Wednesday, May 20th and the first
episode is available on the Fox Screening Room. So thank you
so much and have a great rest of your day.
Adeline: Thank you, everybody.
Christina: Thank you. Have a good one, guys. Bye.
Adeline: Thank you. Bye.
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