As the 10th series of MasterChef: The Professionals kicks off tonight, judges Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti reveal there's some interesting food being cooked up. Unfortunately, not all of it truly appetising...

As MasterChef: The Professionals returns for its 10th series, renowned chefs Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti tell us about the unusual cuisine they’re being served up this time round…

The knives have been sharpened and the pans are already piping hot as 48 professional chefs from across the UK put their reputations on the line as they attempt to cook their way to greatness for the 10th series of MasterChef: The Professionals.

Returning to put the chefs through their paces are two Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, renowned chef Monica Galetti and MasterChef judge – and professional eater – Gregg Wallace.

As the heats begin this week, the first 12 chefs across two shows will be competing for a place in the first quarter-final. Only the very best will make the cut and, as Marcus and Monica reveal, this series serves up both the brilliant and the frankly bizarre…

What’s is this year’s MasterChef: The Professionals giving us in terms of chefs and their cookery?

Monica Galetti: “This year’s been really exciting because we’ve seen lots of young talent. A lot of their cooking has been very healthy – we all want to be better in terms of what we eat and I think the younger chefs are clocking onto that and the clientele demand it. I like eating healthy food when it tastes good, who doesn’t?”
Marcus Wareing: “This year, probably more than any other, we’re seeing some inventive, creative, weird and wacky but simply brilliant cookery.”

The Skills Test is your first chance to see what the chefs are made of and we know it’s changed slightly this year…

MW: “Yes, it’s more of a creative Skills Test this time. Rather than have them recreate a dish that myself or Monica has made, this time we start with a key ingredient which, in episode one, is a duck breast. Then there’s a table full of ingredients that the chefs can choose from to create a dish of their own design in 20 minutes. We want to see them think on their feet. Yes, there’s a certain skill we want to see within that but, for the actual dish, we want to see them.”

marcus monica judging

Does this kind of skills test put the chefs under more pressure?

MG: “The chefs are always nervous but those who are more experienced will be able to create something, whereas others will freeze and panic. But when they come back for the Signature round later they thaw out, relax, become a bit more confident in themselves and you see a completely different chef. But there are certainly one or two car crashes along the way!”

With the mood always so tense in the MasterChef kitchen, do the two of you and fellow judge Gregg Wallace manage to have any fun on set?

MG: “Gregg tries to crack a joke to help the chefs relax but that can go either way. Gregg has a great memory for remembering punchlines to jokes – but never remembers how many times he’s told us that same joke! Gregg brings a real energy to the show – and a great palate that never really stops eating. Marcus and I don’t eat as much as Gregg!”

MasterChef Pros Monica Marcus Greg

What’s the weirdest food you’ve had to taste this series?

MW: “We had some smoked sheep dung. It’s basically dried sheep dung that goes into a smoker, to then burn and give the aroma to a meat on the bone. I’m sure you can guess what it tasted like!”
MG: “As judges, we do have to try EVERYTHING!”

What’s your food guilty pleasure?

MW: “When we’re filming, I always like to put a Kit Kat in the fridge for my mid-morning sugar fix. For my birthday a few years ago, Monica filled the fridge full of Twixes, so when I opened it, they all fell out! I was in Twix heaven.”
MG: “I love those pickles that come in a jar; I go through so many of them. I promise you I’m not pregnant!”

It’s the 10th series of MasterChef: The Professionals. Can it make it to 20?

MW: “MasterChef Professionals is still the most demanding cooking show of all and it takes a very courageous young chef to take it on. The format still works and, with the different types of chefs we have coming through, I think the future of the show is even more exciting.”
MG: “There’s a real shortage of talented young chefs in the UK, so when a handful of them come into the MasterChef Professionals kitchen, you think: ‘Yes, they are still out there’. Knowing we’ve discovered a few of them on this show feels great.”

MasterChef Pros 10 years

MasterChef: The Professionals starts tonight at 8pm on BBC2.