MasterChef: Gregg Wallace and John Torode on the BBC hit's 20th outing

Now on its 20th series, MasterChef has established itself as one of Britain’s favourite cooking programmes. It has had successful spin offs – Celebrity MasterChef, MasterChef: The Professionals, and Junior MasterChef – but the original series is held close to the hearts of foodies across the country.

That’s true for no one more than judges John Torode, 58, and Gregg Wallace, 59. They’ve worked together on MasterChef since 2005, but knew each other long before that – and even after two decades of judging, they show no signs, or intention, of stopping.

How has their friendship blossomed over the years?

“I think we have great respect for each other. I think that’s it really,” says Torode.

John Torode and Gregg Wallace. Picture: BBC/Shine TV.John Torode and Gregg Wallace. Picture: BBC/Shine TV.
John Torode and Gregg Wallace. Picture: BBC/Shine TV.
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“We don’t hang out with each other – we go out and have a drink occasionally, when we go on location and stuff, but we both have our own lives, and we live in very different parts of the world. And I think one of the joys of MasterChef is that we’ve kept our identities and our opinions, because we haven’t morphed into each other. We dress differently, our taste in music is different, the way in which we approach many things and tasks is completely different, and we’ve always respected each other’s want to do that. And so that friendship has stayed because of that reason. It’s an equilibrium.”

Wallace says there has “always been an incredible level of professionalism – to get the job done, and to do it as well as we both can, without our egos ever getting in the way.”

He adds: “We turn up on time. We do as we’re told, we follow direction… We are both the same in our attitudes towards work. I think that’s a lot of what this is built on. And out of that has come respect and trust.”

That doesn’t mean they don’t have fun on set, says Torode.

Wallace agrees: “You need to see that set to see just how happy that set is. Because you’ve got to remember: John and I have also worked with directors and crews now – the same core people – for 20 years. That is one happy place. And we bring happiness, energy, giggles and silly songs into that workspace. Don’t misunderstand me, I think our approach is professional, but it’s a happy profession…

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People say that John and I don’t get on… We’ve been working together face to face for 20 years. We knew each other for 10 years before that – John bought fruit and veg off me – and he was best man at my wedding… He wasn’t best man at every wedding, but he was at the last one! You make your mind up what’s going on there between me and Mr Torode.”

Are they happy to carry on with MasterChef? Is there a part of them that thinks they should leave it at that?

Torode says: “I think to get me out of the place, they’re gonna have to push me out the door, or get to the stage where they’re gonna have to blend my food to get me to taste it. That’s when I’ll be leaving.”

MasterChef is next on BBC One tomorrow at 9pm.

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