How Gordon Ramsay’s ‘MasterChef’ Is Playing a Culinary Game Between Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z in Season 14

Fourteen seasons in, Gordon Ramsay’s Fox cooking competition “MasterChef” has found a way to reinvent itself once more: pitting generation against generation in a battle that will prove whether baby boomers, Gen X, millennials or Gen Z cooks have culinary supremacy.

Debuting Wednesday at 8 p.m., “MasterChef” Season 14 will begin with the audition rounds for the contestants that qualify as millennials (a group that usually encompasses those born between 1980-1994), followed by episodes devoted to whittling down the boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1979) and Gen Z (1995-2009) competitors.

More from Variety

For each of these rounds, judges Ramsay, Aarón Sánchez and Joe Bastianich will be joined by a culinary expert guest judge who has been brought on this season to evaluate their own generation: Priya Krishna for millennials, Lidia Bastianich for Boomers, Nick DiGiovanni for Gen Z and Christina Ha for Gen X.

And for each generation, these guest judges know what the gaps are going to be when these home cooks compete for the title of MasterChef champion and the $250,000 prize.

First, the premiere group: the millennials.

“I think it’s the mentality of the fact that we grew up with those articles that were like, ‘Millennials Are Ruining X,'” New York Times food journalist and cookbook author Krishna told Variety. “We were the generation that ruined things: We ruined grain bowls, ruined salad, ruined avocado toast, allegedly. They’re all the things that we got blamed for, and that’s the mentality part that makes it hard. I was really surprised that — without giving anything away — that certain ingredients that felt very ‘millennial’ to me, I didn’t taste a lot of dishes with them. So it felt like the millennials were trying to defy stereotypes.”

Then it’s about what’s OK, and not, with the boomers.

“With Boomers, it’s about tradition,” Italian-American chef and longtime public television cooking show host Bastianich said. “The tradition of techniques: How to braise something, how to roast something, how to make mashed potatoes and all of that. And I think that’s the advantage. I think the millennials are much more into not so much reaching in their own kind of background, but rather into the future of these new chefs, what they’re doing and all of that. So it’s maybe a focus on tradition, rather than then just inventiveness. How much do they keep the tradition and how much do they forge forward and keep up with the other chefs?”

Repping Gen X, a.k.a. the “latchkey kid” group, is Ha, the winner of “MasterChef” Season 3 in 2012, who says that particular nickname actually points to a skill for her age demo of cooks.

“I think Gen X is very good at being independent,” Ha said. “We had to learn to survive by ourselves at a young age, so the culinary skills are there. But we grew up a little bit later and some of the advantages that the younger generations have is access to things like YouTube, TikTok, where they could literally learn everything about cooking online. It’s just at their fingertips, typing in a search and then learning how to make something. So their plethora of information and knowledge base is much wider. I think Generation X is a little bit smaller, but we are still able to do that online search and learn about things. That’s kind of the forte of Gen X: being able to learn online but also having done a lot and experienced a lot in the kitchen ourselves with our hands first.”

Gen Z guest judge DiGiovanni, who has amassed more than 30 million followers to his cooking channels across social media platforms including YouTube and TikTok, was not available for this interview, so viewers will have to wait to find out what strength and weaknesses his generation has going for them when their audition rounds arrive in the coming weeks.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.