John Torode and Gregg Wallace on MasterChef 2020, and why the stakes are higher than ever…
MasterChef studios in East London are one of our favourite places to visit.
“I’m regularly amazed to the point where I want to have contestants backgrounds checked to see that they’re not professional chefs!” says Gregg, 55. “That people are cooking like this in their own homes… I find it incredible!”
They’re in fine form when we sit down to talk about the new series, where fresh batches of contestants will be tested by two new cooking tasks, The Signature Dish and Three Ingredients Challenge. Competitors must also vie to impress an array of guest judges made up of previous MasterChef finalists and winners – including last year’s champion Irini Tzortzoglou!
“For me MasterChef is the most exciting time of the year,” says John, 54. “It’s not scripted and when you have people cooking their signature dish anything can happen. It’s the toughest cooking competition bar none. This year’s series is ace!”
With the standards constantly rising, Gregg and John have some advice for contestants…
“Contestants are better off not cooking dishes that we like in case they mess them up!” says Gregg, who also admits he’s fed up of weak explanations when things go wrong. “It’s not the dishes, it’s the excuses. If it’s undercooked you’ll regularly hear ‘I didn’t want to overcook it.’ I think, well no, but are they our only two options?”
“Contestants who cook the food they love often go a lot further than those who try to cook what they think we like,” agrees John, who adds: “I’m so bored of raw scallops! They’re molluscs that grow in different places, at different times of the year in different temperatures.
“Every single scallop you cook is completely different. You can’t put ten in one pan and think they’re going to cook the same!”
MasterChef returns to BBC1 on Monday 24th February at 9pm