The first episode aired on Tuesday (November 5) at 8pm on BBC Two.
Judges Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, chef Monica Galetti, and regular judge Gregg Wallace, will be side by side once again to preside over the cooking contest.
The broadcaster said: ‘Over seven intense weeks, the determined professionals will push themselves through challenge after challenge, to inch closer to gastronomic glory. Pitting themselves against peers from across the industry at every level; the contestants hail from pubs and pop-ups, to Michelin-starred kitchens and catering in the armed forces.’
Launching the twelfth series are the heats. Over four weeks, 12 chefs compete in the first two programmes each week, with the aim of making the quarter final in the third programme at the end of the week.
The inaugural challenge for the six chefs in each heat is the skills test. Three of the chefs are set theirs by Monica and three by Marcus. The judges demonstrate their dish, from pan-fried calves’ liver with a bordelaise sauce to braised artichoke with a saffron aquafaba mayonnaise, for the viewers at home, and then task the professionals with preparing the recipe.
Following this round, the contestants must produce a signature dish within an hour and 15 minutes. Three chefs from each heat show go through.
Facing two more challenges are the six chefs up to quarter final standard. The first is an invention test, with a twist. Marcus and Monica select an ingredient on which the professionals must base their dish. The chefs have a range of ingredients to work with, but must take the judges’ favoured item, such as onions, coffee, pumpkin or rice, and create a standout dish that celebrates and elevates the chosen ingredient to MasterChef standard. The four best performers then face cooking for food critics, who, this year, include William Sitwell, Grace Dent, Jimi Famurewa, Tom Parker Bowles, Tracey MacLeod, Amol Rajan and Jay Rayner.
Knockout Week is the first time the final 12 professionals are in the MasterChef kitchen together. The invention test kicking off this fifth week demands that the chefs produce one sweet or savoury dish that showcases their talent and ability to work under pressure. Choosing their ingredients and working without advanced cooking equipment such as water baths or machinery, they must produce that knock-out dish to be one of the eight strongest contestants automatically put through to the next stage. The other four have to win one of two remaining places in a cook-off using only the ingredients left in the larder.
The 10 chefs are divided into two groups and leave the MasterChef kitchen for the first time for a brand new round: the pop-up challenge. Over two episodes, each contestant takes on a food stall at Pergola London, a rooftop destination on the booming pop-up food scene. Watched by Monica and Marcus, each chef must produce their own dish and make their culinary mark, with limited time and cooking facilities. Their plate not only has to wow the judges, but needs to win over a select guest list. The diners range from chefs to key creators within the street food and UK pop-up scene. The pop-up challenge reveals an added twist when the chefs learn that each guest votes for their favourite dish. The chef with the best dish sails straight through and the remaining four chefs return to the MasterChef kitchen to prove to the judges that they merit a semi-finalist place, with an extraordinary dish.
Semi-final week launches with eight chefs battling it out in two cook-offs. The contenders have to produce a personal dish that conjures up a vivid food memory. This can be a memorable plate, place, or person that trigged their passion for food and started their desire to become a chef. The judges identify the two standout dishes, putting those chefs straight through to the next stage. Winning one of the remaining four places rides on an invention test using only plant-based produce.
The six remaining chefs are split into two groups. The professionals get an opportunity to cook with and learn from two leaders of the culinary industry. Three chefs travel to the hills of mid-Wales to cook with chef Gareth Ward at his Michelin-starred restaurant Ynyshir. The other three go to London’s Hide: the newest restaurant of Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous.
The last obstacle between the six semi-finalists and a place in the finals is the preparation of a two-course menu. Inspired by their time working in such prestigious restaurants, the chefs must excel using their techniques, taste and creativity to compel Monica, Gregg and Marcus to make them a MasterChef: The Professionals finalist.
The four exceptional chefs through to the finals must now take on a challenge with the most high-stakes service of their careers – the chef’s table – one of the country’s most esteemed and prestigious culinary events, held in central London. They must create their own dishes for a dining room full of chefs, who between them hold over 20 Michelin stars. Presiding over the service are Monica and Marcus, whilst Gregg Wallace puts his experienced palate to use amongst the diners.
Back in the MasterChef kitchen, the four hopefuls must create a ‘sense of place’ through a plate of food that embodies somewhere special to them. They must use this chance to transform the ingredients into a sophisticated dish that is personally evocative, but also sparks a response from the judges. The judges’ decision will propel three to the next level, to cook at one of the finest restaurants in the world.
In this penultimate task, the final trio fly to Portugal to cook with chef Jose Avillez at his flagship two Michelin-starred Lisbon restaurant Belcanto. Chef Jose is the creative force behind 13 restaurants in Lisbon, Porto and the Middle East. Chef Jose spends two days with the chefs, giving them a masterclass in his food and teaching them about the spirit and history of Portuguese cuisine. They also face their most humbling challenge yet, when they cook in service for a dining room full of guests – made up of chefs from across chef Jose’s restaurant empire, and Marcus, Monica and Gregg.
Finally, back home, the chefs face their last cook-off. Inspired by the places they’ve been, the range of food they have worked with and the skills they have strived to perfect, the finalists must take their style of food to a new height and create the best three courses of their lives. They face one final crucial judgement from Marcus, Monica and Gregg, to be crowned MasterChef: The Professionals Champion 2019.
Judges Marcus Wareing, Gregg Wallace and Monica Galetti