The FOX series MasterChef searches for the best home cooks in America, and two Iowans are in the mix this season.

20-year-old Samantha Daily & 28-year-old Matt Houck are among the 43 hopefuls vying for the title of MasterChef...and the $250,000 grand prize that comes with it.

Daily, a West Des Moines native and student at the University of Kentucky, told the Des Moines Register that she began cooking when she was five, but began developing more advanced skills in college. Daily said the experience is drastically different than merely watching on TV. "I don't think I have ever been so nervous in my life. The judges are a lot scarier in real life when it's your food they're tasting."

Houck, an optometrist at McDonald Optical in Iowa City, has only been "cooking seriously" for about two years, and taught himself mostly by watching YouTube videos. "I used to be an extremely picky eater, so everything about the culinary scene is new to me."

The judges--chef and host Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez and restaurateur Joe Bastianich--each will hand-select the cooks they deem worthy and mentor those contestants throughout the competition.

Best of luck to Samantha and Matt! Who knows? Maybe some of Maddie Poppe's American Idol magic will rub off on them. The new season of MasterChef premieres tonight (May 30th) at 7:00 p.m. on FOX.

More From AM 950 KOEL