Earlier this year Michel Roux Jr blamed "a conflict in commercial interests" for his sudden retirement from MasterChef: the Professionals, but he's no longer being quite so diplomatic.
“My view on the BBC is that it is run by
a bunch of bureaucrats adhering to an outdated editorial policy,” he says in a recent interview. “And I do feel
that they are hypocritical and that they
“There are lots of other TV presenters – not just chefs – who endorse products openly, do not toe the line and are allowed to get away with it. There were so many precedents to this situation of openly endorsing a product for financial gain – several outrageously big precedents before me – but apparently they were within editorial policy. It’s a minefield. And nothing is black and white.”
Roux stepped down in March after falling foul of the BBC’s editorial guidelines. The chef’s adverts for Albert Bartlett Rooster Potatoes breached the Corporation’s strict rules on commercial tie-ins.
He claims the BBC knew he was paid to endorse the spuds before he signed up for MasterChef. “I’ve had plenty of meetings with various people in the corridors of the BBC and we tried to come to an agreement and we couldn’t. We couldn’t. It’s as simple as that. I walked away.”
“They were questioning my integrity," he told Business First magazine. "This is why it really hurts me and why I said ‘OK, if you’re going to be like that, I’m walking’. They were suggesting that if, for example, we got to the final of MasterChef and there were two chefs cooking a dish, I would favour the one that used a certain variety of potatoes because of my association with Bartletts. Now that is questioning my honour and my integrity. So sorry, but that’s just not on, no.”
In the new series, Roux has been replaced by Marcus Wareing – formerly a regular guest renowned for his savage critiques. Monica Galetti will continue as co-judge, despite also being second-in-command at Roux Mayfair restaurant Le Gavroche.
MasterChef: the Professionals starts tonight (4th November) at 8:00pm on BBC2