Earning a spot on MasterChef is a high honor in and of itself, but winning the show is the ultimate prize. Through a rollercoaster of complex challenges and mystery boxes, contestants are pushed to their limits to see who will come out victorious and win the $250,000 prize, a trophy, and their own cookbook. They do all this while trying to impress judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich.
While there can only be one winner each season, some of the contestants have gone on to do great things after their time on the show. From popular winners to memorable contestants, people always wonder what happened to the contestants after the show. Find out what these former MasterChef contestants are doing today and if they are still scared of Gordon Ramsay.
As a college student from Poplarville, Mississippi, Whitney Miller became the first MasterChef winner because of her natural abilities in the kitchen. She quickly impressed the judges with her skills and cooked her way to the top of the game. Once she came out victorious, Miller returned to college to complete her degree, and she released her cookbook Modern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm.
After the success of her first cookbook, Miller wrote a second one, entitled Whitney Miller’s New Southern Table. She stayed involved in cooking with many published recipes, TV cooking segments, and consultancy work. Miller also opened Whitney’s Cookies in 2020, and she works as a food stylist when she isn’t in the kitchen baking with her children.
David Miller instantly made himself known because of his eccentric first appearance on the show. Miller was known for being emotional, which hindered him from competing to the best of his abilities. Despite that, he showed his competitors that he was fierce competition and regularly took leadership roles in team challenges, showing he was an excellent team player.
After becoming the runner-up, Miller continued to pursue his passion. He uses his social media accounts to share his culinary creations. However, he returned to his career in software, working as a tech manager. Miller continues to cook during his free time for his wife and son. He is definitely a competitor no one can forget.
Before earning a coveted spot on Masterchef, Jennifer Behm was a realtor in Wilmington, Delaware. In the final cook-off, Behm’s elegant three-course dinner pushed her to the top to win an advantage over her competitors. How could the judges not be impressed with a meal consisting of scallops, quail, and poached pear? This meal earned her the winning spot.
After MasterChef, Behm decided to leave the world of real estate and started a catering company called Pink Martini Catering. In 2015, she took a leap of faith and opened the restaurant Red Fin Crudo. However, the restaurant closed in July 2020, but she said she would offer private chef services. Behm also appeared on MasterChef Season 10 with other past winners.
As one of the most beloved winners of MasterChef, Christine Ha was the champion of Season 3. The visually impaired student blew the judges out of the water with her menu in the finale. Ha is often ranked high among best MasterChef winners lists, edging out other well-liked competitors. Since her win on the show, Ha has been very busy co-hosting a cooking show for the visually impaired called Four Senses.
Besides her cooking show, Ha published a few cookbooks and received the Hellen Keller Personal Achievement Award in 2014. She also opened two restaurants called The Blind Goat and Xin Chao. Because of her popularity with the fanbase, Ha was asked to host MasterChef Vietnam, and she appeared as a guest judge on MasterChef U.S.
Although Ha was the winner and fan-favorite of Season 3, Josh Marks left his mark on the fanbase during his time on the series. As an Army Contract Specialist, Marks cooked his way to the end, becoming the season’s runner-up. Many people liked his spirit throughout the season, but, sadly, he was battling some inner demons.
After MasterChef, Marks was involved in a car accident and placed on a psychiatric hold. He learned that he was bipolar and suffered from psychotic episodes. Unfortunately, in October 2013, Marks took his life after battling with his mental health. Fans of the show couldn’t believe that this happened. People still remember Marks and his impact on the show.
Luca Manfe was a restaurant manager from Astoria, New York, before earning a spot on MasterChef Season 4. The Italian home cook gathered special praise from Gordon Ramsay for his short ribs in the grand finale. Manfe beat out hopefuls such as Eddie Jackson, whom everyone thought would win. After winning, Manfe launched his cookbook called My Italian Kitchen: Favorite Family Recipes.
Manfe also launched a personal catering service called Dinner with Luca and started a food truck called the Lucky Fig. Unfortunately, his food truck closed after just a year of business. Manfe joined other winners to host online cooking classes. He does cooking demonstrations and dining experiences when he isn’t catering. He is considered one of MasterChef’s exemplary success stories.
Most people think of Eddie Jackson as one of the best MasterChef contestants who didn’t win. During Season 4, the former pro football player and personal trainer was eliminated after a sushi challenge towards the end of the season, but that wasn’t the end of his cooking career.
After MasterChef, Jackson went on to win Food Network Star Season 11. After MasterChef, Jackson opened Rosehill Beer Garden & Food Truck and Fit Chef Studio Gym. He makes regular appearances on Food Network, hosting things like BBQ Blitz and Christmas Cookie Challenge and judging Kids BBQ Championship.
Although she didn’t snatch the win, this stay-at-home mom from California cooked her way into the runner-up position. Natasha Crnjac came in a close second, and Gordon Ramsay praised her efforts. Despite coming so close to winning, Crnjac didn’t continue her passion for cooking right away.
After MasterChef, Crnjac returned to being a stay-at-home mom and briefly offered catering/private chef services. However, after a few years, she found her passion for cooking again and opened Meal Prep Boutique. Crnjac now offers catering services and meal prep delivery in California.
Season 5 winner Courtney Lapresi was a favorite with the judges throughout the competition. The former dancer from Philadelphia pulled off a win due to her eclectic three-course meal that blew the judges away. Throughout the season, Lapresi barely got any negative critiques from the hard-to-please chefs.
After publishing a cookbook called Everyday Fancy: 65 Easy, Elegant Recipes for Meals, Snacks, Sweets, and Drinks, Lapresi left the world of cooking to do sales for Tesla. It is a far cry from the culinary background many fans admired. She is happy with her new career, and maybe one day she will return to the kitchen.
The advertising executive from Brooklyn, New York, came in a close second behind Courtney Lapresi in Season 5. After her time on MasterChef, Cauvel became the creative director of MRY, but she still has an interest in cooking and regularly shares her creations on Instagram.
In 2016 and 2017, Cauvel took her cooking skills to the seas and demonstrated them on the MasterChef cruise. She also writes articles on Medium in her free time. We hope she gets more cooking opportunities in the future because it seems like she is more interested than the winner of her season.
Season 6 winner, Claudia Sandoval, won the judges over with her impressive Mexican dishes. She brought her A-game to the finale with a three-course meal that stunned everyone. She also proved that she could handle any cuisine the judges gave her. After winning, Sandoval released Claudia’s Cocina: A Taste of Mexico.
In honor of her successful cookbook, Sandoval launched a catering business called Claudia’s Cocina. She has been a brand ambassador for large culinary brands, hosted cooking classes with other MasterChef winners, and became a judge on MasterChef Latino. Sandoval opened a Mexican bakery in 2020, which is doing well.
As a drummer from Fort Myers, Florida, Derrick Peltz was the runner-up on Season 6 of MasterChef. Although he didn’t win the competition, that wasn’t the end of his cooking career. After MasterChef, Peltz got married and took his wife’s last name, so he now goes by Derrick Fox.
Fox helped open a restaurant in L.A. and has done several pop-up dining events across the U.S. He was in talks for a reality TV show in recent years, but it didn’t work out. However, he has a range of merchandise online and offers private chef services.
Tommy Walton is one of the most memorable MasterChef contestants, even though he didn’t win. With his outgoing personality and quick wit, Walton was an instant standout during Season 6. Walton got along with almost everyone on the show, and he was one of the stronger chefs.
Although he was a strong chef, he struggled during the team challenges and was eliminated during a pairs challenge. After MasterChef, Walton continued cooking and showcasing his personality on local TV cooking segments. He continues to update fans on social media about his life as a teacher and designer.
The DJ from Las Vegas, Shaun O’Neale, won Season 7 of MasterChef because of his halibut, venison, and pear dishes that impressed the judges during the finale. Known for being arrogant during his season, O’Neale’s cultured worldview and elevated plates helped him charm viewers and the judges.
After winning his season, O’Neale released My Modern American Table: Recipes for Inspired Home Cooks. O’Neale’s participation in online cooking classes with other MasterChef winners and several brand endorsements have helped him become popular on social media. He also became the co-owner of The Blind Pig in 2020 with Christine Ha.
The vibrant and outgoing Dino Angelo Luciano wowed the judges with his Italian flare during Season 8. Luciano even managed to get Joe Bastianich, owner of many Italian restaurants, to go nuts over his food. Throughout the competition, he kept the judges and viewers on their toes.
After the show, Luciano hosted many exclusive dinners and pop-up dining experiences as The Gourmet Rabbit. He also was the executive chef at Muse and Market in Phoenix. Surprisingly, Luciano released a hip-hop single as well.
Fans made an instant connection with Eboni Henry during Season 8 of MasterChef. She was confident about her skills and showed off her sassy side while making strong connections with her fellow competitors. She started strong and showed tremendous growth throughout the season, even though she didn’t win.
After tying for the runner-up spot, Henry went on to continue cooking. While she is still an addiction counselor, Henry practices her cooking on the side. She started working as a private chef and offers private dining experiences as well. Henry also started a YouTube channel with Jacoby Ponder.
With his can-do attitude, Jason Wang was one of the friendliest competitors on MasterChef. Throughout the season, Wang was one of the front-runners with his solid skills and groundbreaking creativity. He ended up tying for runner-up with Eboni Henry because of his exceptional dishes.
After MasterChef, Wang continued to cook and became a culinary instructor. He hosted Jason on Mission on Fox Taiwan and other cooking shows. Besides his love for cooking, Wang is also a freelance tenor singer. He has a wide variety of skills beyond what he showed on TV.
Sweet and kind-hearted, Gerron Hurt won Season 9 because of his expertise in Southern cooking. The Kentucky native was constantly learning new ways to elevate his country cooking further, which pushed him ahead of his competition. He always made the most of each challenge and opportunity on the show.
Now a proud husband and father, Hurt owns a Southern cuisine food truck. Gordon Ramsay actually officiated his wedding on a special episode of MasterChef Season 10. Besides his food truck, Hurt has appeared at many food events in Louisville and launched Family on a Plate LLC, offering private dining and cooking classes.
With a lighthearted personality, Bowen Li made a name for himself on the show. Fans remember Li for the exceptional cooking ability he showcased in the first few episodes of Season 9. He was a natural in the kitchen, which impressed viewers and judges, but he had trouble adapting to the various cooking styles each week.
Since the show, Li has returned to his previous career as a commercial pilot, but he still holds on to his passion for cooking. Lu taught private cooking lessons until he was able to open his own restaurant in 2019 called Bowen’s Bistro with his husband, David Li.
Dorian Hunter won Season 10 because she impressed the judges with her finale menu, consisting of scallops, short rib, and a beautiful lemon blueberry tart. Hunter’s tenacity and passion for cooking won over viewers nationwide. Although she started the season as the underdog, she made it out on top.
After proving everyone wrong during her season, Hunter became the first Black female to win MasterChef. She went on to train at the restaurants of the three judges and put her winnings towards opening up a restaurant. She is also working on her cookbook.
Many fans remember Sarah Faherty as the runner-up of Season 10. With a military background, she was able to stay focused and control her stress level throughout the competition. She was the first female military veteran to compete on the show. Faherty pushed herself throughout the competition.
Since her time on the show, Faherty has continued to perfect her cooking abilities. While she is still a real estate agent in San Diego, but she makes time to cook every day. Faherty hopes to launch her own food and wine podcast in the future and even hopes to open a restaurant one day.
Leslie Gilliams is one of the more memorable contestants of MasterChef because he landed in the Pressure Test seven times. During his confessionals, he would wonder why he was at the bottom and why other people hadn’t been sent home yet. The self-proclaimed silver-haired cooking beast was definitely outspoken at times.
Despite all that, Gilliams came in third place. After the show, he was arrested due to a misunderstanding in a bar, but he wasn’t charged. Gilliams started a food blog with his daughter shortly after the charges were dropped, but only a few recipes were posted. He now runs a delivery service called Silver Fox Oysters.
Jordan Roots was an early favorite during Season 4. He seemed to have a strong personality and a desire to make it to the end of the competition. One of his most memorable moments was when he broke down in tears because Gordon Ramsay didn’t spit on his face for the food he made.
It’s not often you see a 6’5” guy break down in tears on the floor like Roots did when he received his apron. He made it through to the final six but was bumped from the competition shortly after that. Roots ran a Kickstarter for a food cart but failed to raise enough funds. He ended up opening a catering business and is currently working as head chef in a restaurant.
Tracy Kontos was a sales consultant from Florida before she earned a spot on MasterChef. Gordon Ramsay praised her for her effort and promised her culinary training. However, Kontos was booted from the show after failing to cook a whole salmon and came in 6th place.
After her run on Season 2, Kontos interned at several prestigious restaurants before starting her own catering company and WILFS, a community for women in the food industry. Currently, she is a private chef in L.A. and offers cooking classes and dining experiences.
Although Stacy Amagrande came in 8th place on her season, she was a memorable personality. After getting a fake-out from the judges about getting an apron, she broke down in tears, much like Jordan Roots. She put in a lot of effort throughout the season, but a Japanese sampler got her eliminated.
In her post-MasterChef life, Amagrande became the executive chef at 7th Heaven Café, which closed in October 2015. She then worked at a farmers’ market and eventually became the executive chef at Desert Barn Brewery. Today, she is a chef for a private company called Rainbow Chef Services.
Although there was a lot of drama during Season 5, Elise Mayfield brought some positivity to the season. She was known as the Adele lookalike, and even though she wasn’t the best cook, she still tried her best. Unfortunately, she was eliminated and came in 13th place, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her dream.
Mayfield went on to become a baker at Honey Baby Bakes and appeared at food markets as an assistant food stylist. She competed in Reality Rally in 2015 and has a baking show on YouTube. Besides her work with food, Mayfield is also a development manager at a theater company.
While it was easy to dismiss Kim Dung, she made history by being the only person responsible for creating the iconic scene where Joe Bastianich throws your food in the trash. While it has been replicated many times since, Dung will forever be the first messy complainer chef trifecta.
After MasterChef, Dung returned to college to finish her degree while working part-time in a restaurant. Although she came in 9th place, she held her head high and tried to work her way up the ranks. She hasn’t shared much since the series, but people will never forget her time on the series.
After leaving his job as a fast-food worker to compete on MasterChef, Gabriel Lewis came in 7th place. He was very quiet initially, but he started to make his presence known by showing a lot of raw talent. Gordon Ramsay saw enough potential to pay for Lewis’ tuition and enroll him in culinary school.
Ramsay’s assistance for Lewis might have been better than winning the actual prize, in our opinion. After the show, he took up Ramsay’s offer and went to culinary school. Lewis graduated in July 2019 and is now a private chef, offering private dinners and dining experiences. He also posts recipes on his social media.
While Andrea Galan might have come in 11th place on her season, she had a lively and passionate personality. She came into the competition very confident of her abilities, which sometimes came off arrogant or rude. She stood out as a strong cook from the start, but Galan let the Pressure Test get the best of her.
Galan was the second person in the series’ history to be disqualified for not serving a dish in the allotted time. After the show, Galan briefly returned to her job as a talent scout and later moved to Barcelona and was stagier at ABAC restaurant.
Viewers enjoyed watching Dan Paustian in the kitchen. However, his personality sometimes interfered with his cooking abilities, and Gordon Ramsay often accused him of not taking the competition seriously. He ended up coming in 5th place.
After his run on Season 7, Paustian became the head chef and owner of Flavor City Catering. He also dabbled in the world of acting, TV, and writing. Paustian is now a comedian and food vlogger. He appeared at Shaun O’Neale’s wedding and was a guest at the Season 10 pool party.
Stephen Lee was known for his bubbly, energetic attitude when it came to cooking. He was an urban gardener before he decided to pursue his passion for cooking and came in third place on Season 6. The audience rooted for him because of his attitude towards his fellow competitors.
After MasterChef, Lee continued his work as an urban gardener and took on private chef and event caterer, too. He made some guest appearances in a few different shows but kept a relatively low profile. Lee occasionally posts about his daily life on social media.
Daniel Pontes-Macedo left his job as a substitute teacher in Massachusetts to join the Season 8 cast of MasterChef. He came in 8th place during his season after a chocolate truffles challenge saw him in the bottom three. However, it wasn’t the end of his cooking career.
After the show, Pontes-Macedo became a private chef and catered small events while teaching cooking classes both online and in person. He then became the executive chef at Beck’s Bistro Catering before opening a food truck called VictorEats Food Truck in June 2021.
The bubbly former swimsuit model came into the competition with a smile on her face. Paige Jimenez was overly confident in her abilities, and her performance in the kitchen wasn’t great. She was eliminated during a Pressure Test for a poorly grilled porkchop.
Jimenez decided to return to culinary school after the show and earned her degree. However, she turned down a position at a top restaurant because the hours meant she couldn’t model. Instead, she continued to model, work for fashion brands, and appear in Cosmo magazine.
Alejandra Schrader was a diligent cook who was well respected by her fellow contestants. However, she was highly critical of herself despite being a solid contender from the beginning. She came in the top three many times but was booted after her Eggs Benedict didn’t work.
Schrader went on to become a private chef and offered cooking classes like many other former MasterChef competitors. She also published The Low-Carbon Cookbook and is a founding member of Chefs’ Manifesto. Schrader has appeared on several TV channels for cooking segments as well.
Annai Gonzalez entered the competition full of energy. Her positive and sassy attitude quickly captured the judges’ attention, and she received an apron after her Mexican-inspired dish. However, once she made it to the top 15, her performance went from bad to worse, and she was eliminated from the competition.
Since her run on the show, Gonzalez has been working as a private chef and opened her own business called Oakcliff Baked. Because she only recently finished the season, we look forward to seeing what she will do in the future.
Despite facing some lows in the competition, Nick DiGiovanni is known as one of the most creative chefs from MasterChef. He came in 3rd place. His undercooked bass dish was one of the reasons he didn’t take one of the top two spots. He won over fans with his good looks and charming personality.
Following his run on the show, DiGiovanni revealed his plans to take up Joe Bastianich’s offer to be his mentor. Today, he is a social media star with a popular YouTube channel and over five million followers on TikTok. It seems like he has a bright future ahead of him.
Before joining entering the competition, Ashley Mincey was a professional grocery shopper from Florida. The southern chef was the co-runner-up on her season, with lots of highs and lows throughout her run. She was a fierce competitor and didn’t want anyone to get in her way.
After the show, Mincey became a private chef who offers private dining experiences, which seems to be a running theme for MasterChef contestants. Mincey is also a freelance recipe developer who does cooking demonstrations and pop-up dining events.
Cesar Cano was a former high school teacher from Houston, Texas, before entering Season 9. He started a bit shaky with an inconsistent performance record, but he became one of the strongest cooks that season as the competition progressed. He had a few clashes with a fellow castmate but ended up as the co-runner-up.
After his appearance on the show, Cano returned to teaching but still has an interest in cooking. He has done a few charity cooking events. He began teaching as a culinary instructor in September 2019 and appeared at Camp MasterChef in July 2019. He currently posts food dishes on his social media.
David Williams made a name for himself in the world of poker and then decided to turn his focus to cooking. During Season 7, he was considered one of the strongest and most talented cooks. Coming from a high-end and fine-dining lifestyle, Williams was focused on the individual challenges and became a runner-up.
After his time on TV, Williams returned to his life as a professional poker player. He is still the only contestant to try and quit the show. He currently holds two poker titles for the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour.