One source revealed how food is often wasted after a shoot ends:
"I worked on a cake decorating show for a season and every day we had to throw out the 350lb cakes that the contestants had just spent the last 8 hours decorating.
Because they were sitting under the studio lights for so long they were no longer safe to eat so we couldn't give them away. It was painful to see all that waste but it was also a lot of fun to tear apart giant wedding cakes at the end of the day."
You go on with your good self, Master Chef Australia. According to a source:
"when filming wraps, we collect the food from the set or the exotic location where the episode has been shot. Within no time the food is distributed to charities to go to vulnerable people who need help putting food on the table for themselves and their family."
3. The Food Is Heavily Manipulated Before Being Photographed
According to one source, the food is often manipulated to look better:
"My bro also worked on a show where contestants had to make wacky food dishes and he was the one that wound up having to make them look pretty for camera, which meant rearranging the food on the plates, spritzes of oil to make elements glisten and a whole lot of other stuff that basically would make it inedible irl."
One source said that "secret ingredients" aren't a secret:
"My brother was a sous chef for his (at the time) boss on a popular food competition show. He said the secret ingredient was revealed a few hours prior to filming and the chefs sat down with their sous chefs and made plans ahead. My brother also said he spent a lot of time prior to filming doing prep work, like breaking down meats or chopping vegetables, boring things the camera won't want to focus on to save time."
One source revealed what really goes on when chefs make talk show appearances:
"I work on a daytime talk show that has frequent cooking segments with 'celebrity' chefs. Most of the chefs are pretty minor but we do get the occasional Wolfgang type.
Most of the actual cooking is done by the food stylist (officially a props position). We have two stylists with an assistant for each, they get the recipe beforehand and spend a day prepping it before shooting. On the day of taping the chef will work with the food stylist to make sure everything is up to par, sometimes there are problems, things get overcooked, dropped, but usually everything's fine.
The prepared food usually ends up being the host's lunch. If there's a decent amount left it will get put out at the craft service for the crew to go through. It's usually pretty good but sometimes looks better than it tastes, it is prepped for tv so that's where the priority is."
Apparently, the judges don't eat the food that we see in the competition. According to one source:
"If it's a contest style show the judges don't eat the version that you see cooked and plated. That version is thrown away and a new version is cooked specifically for them to eat. Then they take 2-3 bites from a plate and throw the rest away."
One source told Reddit that sometimes even professional chefs make mistakes:
"Worked as a production intern with a network involved with food and as you can probably imagine there is a shit-ton of waste involved.
What people probably don't realize is that these amazing chefs/cooks make mistakes just like normal people. They burn s***, they undercook s***, they drop entire trays of food on the ground. Whenever a f*** up occurs, they have to reset and cook the food all over again."
One source explained some of the perks you can get while working on a cooking show :
"Ok best part about working on set of a food competition show: taking home fresh ingredients. One night I took home a pound of cherry stone clams, half a pound of red royal shrimp and a pound of head on jumbo prawns. Next night I took home 2 pounds of mussels and a live lobster.
Also, lots of cooking equipment after we wrap. It's awesome."
"The most enlightening fact, for me, was that many of the chefs have NO IDEA what the recipe is, what they are cooking when they arrive or how it's made. A FOOD STYLIST shows up 2 hours before taping, having been up the night before all night making the 'beauty dishes' - these are the dishes the camera will take shots of to show what the final product looks like.
Then the stylist lays out every ingredient, every bowl, every tool that will be needed.
The Chef arrives, does hair/makeup and comes to set where the stylist briefs them "Chef, today you're making such and such. These are the indredients (sic) for the reduction sauce, etc etc. Make sure you hit that this is red wine vinegar, etc etc"
The Chef goes over the recipe a few times, then we go live and they are the expert."