Saturday 16 December 2017

John Torode roasted by BBC for saying he and fellow MasterChef host Gregg Wallace aren't friends

Undated Plank PR handout photo of MasterChef judges Gregg Wallace (left) and John Torode, ahead of MasterChef 2017, which returns to BBC1 this spring.
Undated Plank PR handout photo of MasterChef judges Gregg Wallace (left) and John Torode, ahead of MasterChef 2017, which returns to BBC1 this spring.

MasterChef's John Torode was given a roasting by BBC bosses after saying he wasn’t really friends with co-presenter Gregg Wallace.

The Australian had said: "It’s funny, we’ve never been friends." But Wallace has disclosed that it led to a dressing-down.

"John and I had a laugh about it and started putting pictures of ourselves on Twitter," said Wallace, 53.

"But he got told off a bit by the BBC and by the commissioner and the executive saying he should have handled it a bit more carefully."

Chef John Torode (r) poses with fellow Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace as he launches his new book 'Beef' at Smith's of Smithfield, Charterhouse Street, in central London.
Chef John Torode (r) poses with fellow Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace as he launches his new book 'Beef' at Smith's of Smithfield, Charterhouse Street, in central London.

Wallace admits the confusion may have arisen from the kind of relationship – which dates back well before their television careers – he has with his co-host.

"I think what he was trying to say was that we’re not friends in the typical sense," he added.

"But it came out that we’re not friends and that simply isn’t true. John was best man at my wedding and I’m not really closer to anybody else.

"Where it’s an unusual relationship – and it most certainly is – is that because we’re so friendly on telly, people think it’s make believe or that we’re close outside of work.

Picture Shows: (L-R) Gregg Wallace, John Torode - (C) Shine TV - Photographer: Production
Picture Shows: (L-R) Gregg Wallace, John Torode - (C) Shine TV - Photographer: Production

"We don’t see each other away from work but we’re close in work seven months of the year. We don’t meet up at weekends, or share the same interests and we’ve never been to each other’s houses.

"But nobody’s been to my house. My home is my haven and when I’m there I don’t like anything that drags me out of it.

"It’s not a typical working relationship – it’s actually closer – and it’s not a typical friendship, but it works for us."

Wallace originally met Anne-Marie Sterpini –  his Italian-born wife, who is also known as Anna and is 21 years his junior – on Twitter in 2013 and he says he couldn’t be happier.

"Look, I’ve got it wrong a number of times before and I’m convinced it’s a game of luck. This time I put my penny in the slot machine and I got three cherries up.

"It makes me look back and wonder how I made all those mistakes. I’m very fortunate. What is the chance at my age of finding somebody who has to offer what you’re looking for and you’ve got what they’ve been looking for?

"She is absolutely lovely. Old-fashioned Italians are all about marriage and family. She’s a very old-fashioned girl. We have a very clear distinction about what each other’s roles are supposed to be.

"If it’s inside the front door, it’s Anna’s. If it’s outside the front door, it’s mine. The only thing that crosses that border is the sacks of rubbish. I do that."

Wallace also suggested that the couple could start a family together.

"We would like to have a baby,” said the presenter, who has two teenage sons from his second marriage.

"I brought up my two sons on my own, but I think when Anna’s having a baby her mum’s going to move in to help out.  Having another good Italian cook in the house won’t bother me."

MasterChef Finals Week starts on Monday, as this series' top talents aim compete to create their most exceptional dishes yet.

The final five will face a series of challenges before the ultimate winner is crowned on Friday.

"After 13 years I don’t get surprised any longer by how good people are," said Wallace.

"It used to worry me that we wouldn’t find contestants of the same calibre. But about five years ago it dawned on me that it’s the MasterChef experience that’s taking them from good to great.

"It’s three months where they are doing nothing else but cooking. At the start they’re mentored by myself and John but later on they are learning from some of the greatest chefs in the country.

"You simply can’t do something like that without it having a huge impact. They have skill and style and creativity to get beyond the early rounds.

"The practice and mentoring they’re getting by the quarter and semi-finals is what's pushing them into being absolutely amazing.

Huge viewing figures across all the different series, including the celebrity and professional versions, have made the show a phenomenon in recent years.

"Sometimes I have to stop and pinch myself at how lucky I am. MasterChef came along when I was 40 and I think that was the right time for me," said Wallace.

"I’d done my share of hard graft and I looked on this TV career as a real privilege."

After long days of food tasting in the MasterChef studios, cooking is still on the menu when he gets home in the evening.

Seafood pasta would be his go-to dish if he was faced with a MasterChef invention test, while Sterpini favours stews, curries and chillies.

"I love to cook and relaxation at home is Anna and I cooking together with some Barry White playing and a bottle of wine. Anna might be half my age but she’s twice the cook.

"She learned with her mother and her grandmother and she can’t remember a time she wasn’t cooking."

MasterChef Finals Week finishes on Friday at 8.30pm.

Telegraph.co.uk

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