Chef Gordon Ramsay makes no apologies for his in-your-face style on “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Nightmares,” the two culinary television shows that made him one of the best known celebrity chefs in America.

“Cooking is about passion, so it may look slightly temperamental. But more importantly it’s a kitchen and it needs kind of constant pressure,” he said in a telephone interview Monday with reporters. “When you cook under pressure, you create perfection.”

He promises lots more “pressure tests” this season on his new show, “Masterchef,” which premiered last night at 9 p.m. on the Fox network, because “a laid-back atmosphere with a laid-back contestant doesn’t really produce a great sparkle.”

Among the challenges “Masterchef” contestants will face will be preparing a wedding feast and cooking a big send-off meal for U.S. Marines headed for Afghanistan.

“Masterchef,” already a hit in the United Kingdom and Australia, is a reality show that goes on the hunt for the best home cooks, or “domestic cooks,” as Ramsay calls them, in the U.S.

The final 50 contestants, chosen at “American Idol”-style auditions around the country, range from a Kansas rancher whose signature dish is a filet of beef to a bomb squad canine handler from Texas whose specialty is blackened catfish with crawfish, shrimp etouffee and garlic cheese biscuits.

There are only four contestants from New England, all from Massachusetts.

Ramsay seemed stunned by the quality of home cooks who stepped up to try to impress him and the two other judges, restaurateur and wine maker Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot, known as the youngest four-star chef in America.

“The talent that has been unearthed has been extraordinary,” Ramsay said. “I have cooks in my restaurants and cooks I’ve met around the world that would struggle going up against some of the talent we found. It’s been that good a search.”

Professional chefs, Ramsay said, tend to get carried away with the “flashiness” of ingredients, while a home cook takes a humbler approach and knows when to stop.

“They won’t oversaturate (a dish) with little bits of microherbs and shavings of foie gras and truffles,” he said.

He described one contestant who made a perfect souffle, and another who came up with a baked egg in brioche that “was just what you didn’t expect from a domestic cook.”

In a chili con carne tasting session, one contestant correctly identified 15 of the 20 ingredients. “That’s not normal in the professional world, let alone the domestic world,” Ramsay said.

Of course, Ramsay also dealt with a healthy serving of “Idol”-style flops during the auditions. One man brought apples he had carved to look like the judges.

“There was a potato-cheese soup that looked like something out of my English bulldog’s bottom,” the chef said in classic Ramsay style. “It was pretty horrific. It was like toxic scum on a sphagnum pool, almost like it had been infected with yeast. It was bubbling like something out of Harry Potter. I couldn’t quite believe that someone could make such a bad soup. I took a sip and it came straight back up within seconds.”

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: [email protected]