As MasterChef returns soon, judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace reveal all the backstage secrets from the hit cooking show…
The knives are sharp… the ovens are hot… the pans are sizzling… which can only mean one thing: MasterChef is back!
As the popular cooking show returns for its 15th series, a new crop of the UK’s best amateur cooks will be battling it out for the title of MasterChef Champion 2019! Overseeing their culinary efforts once again are resident judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.
As the high-pressure heats begin this week, MasterChef John, 53, and Gregg, 54, lift the lid on what goes on behind the scenes…
“We don’t know anything about the chefs when they first enter the MasterChef kitchen,” says John. “It’s not until Gregg starts talking to them that we get any idea about who they are, where they’re from or what they do. No one really knows what’s going to happen on this show. It’s like a great roller coaster ride; when you’re waiting to go on it and you perhaps can’t see inside, all you can hear is the screams!”
“If there’s a disaster in the kitchen, viewers will see it on the telly, we would never hide a mistake,” reveals Gregg. “We want bad things as well as good things. If it’s terrible, we welcome it. Burn things! Serve things raw! Cut your finger off! Give us the drama. It’s what we want!”
The judging begins…
“There are definitely times Gregg and I really don’t want to eat something,” admits John. “I’m open to most things, it’s the dangerous combinations that usually frighten me the most, like when people start putting fish and blue cheese together, with an egg on top of it. That’s when I start feeling a little bit… Eugh! Also, by the time we actually get to taste stuff, everything has been sitting around for at least 20-30 minutes. So it’s room temperature. We don’t actually eat really hot food unless it’s soup!”
Who stays, who goes?
“Sometimes John and I can be there for an hour deliberating on who to put through to the next round, it just goes on and on,” says Gregg. “There are always disagreements – and John usually wins! I tend to lean more towards what a dish tasted like rather than the skill shown by the chef whereas John leans more towards technical ability. But we usually make way for the other’s point of view. The real problem occurs when we’re both passionate about two different people and there’s only one more place. Then it becomes an issue.”
The end of a hard day…
“We’re usually in the studio for around nine hours and, by the end of that, I’m pretty frazzled,” admits John. “When we started this 14 years ago I was young… now I’m old! I cycle, so I sometimes don’t like the ride home on a full belly. But it’s such a great job. I love meeting people and when you see the extension of their personality onto their plates of food, it’s amazing!”
MasterChef returns on Monday February 11 at 9pm on BBC1.
Additional material Tess Lamacraft