Marcus Wareing will take over from fellow two-Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr as the third judge on MasterChef: The Professionals when it returns to BBC2 in the autumn.
Wareing, who is chef patron of London’s Marcus at the Berkeley, has a reputation as a fierce and unforgiving perfectionist but in his most recent appearance as a guest judge on the main series of MasterChef appeared to be attempting to soften his image slightly.
Roux Jr, well-loved for his charismatic presenting style and firm-but-fair approach to judging, left the show earlier this year under something of a cloud, having been unable to come to an agreement with the BBC over his other business interests – most notably his TV adverts for Albert Bartlett Rooster Potatoes – which clashed with the Corporation’s strict rules on commercial tie-ins.
He also stepped down as the presenter of BBC2’s recently revived series Food and Drink.
“This hasn’t been an easy decision for me to make,” said the 53-year-old at the time. “But sometimes negotiating with the BBC can be a frustrating process, and there are times when I have wondered if the Corporation understands the realities of today’s commercial world.
“The BBC needs to recognise the value of the talent they work with, and also that, whilst we love to be associated with top-quality television, we have other professional commitments that are as important to us as programme-making.”
Originally from Southport, Merseyside, Wareing is the son of a vegetable supplier. He began his career at The Savoy at the age of 18 and followed it with a stint under Michel Roux Jr’s father Albert Roux at Le Gavroche, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Roux Jr now runs.
Wareing was awarded his first Michelin star aged just 25, and was subsequently named Young Chef of The Year. Further Michelin stars followed in 2004 before he picked up a coveted second star in 2007 for his restaurant Pétrus.
In the past, Wareing has been critical of MasterChef and its ilk saying the shows spawn laziness in chefs. In 2012 he told the Evening Standard “The key to success is longevity, not a five-minute trip on television, five-minute wonder.
“I have more cooks coming to me now wanting to know how many hours are they going to do, how many shifts is it, what are we going to get paid, how many holidays is it? You know what, do me a favour, mate. I’ll do it myself. I’d rather do it myself than have some a***hole stand in my kitchen and think he’s better than me or bigger than me.”
But Wareing said being asked to replace Roux Jr on The Professionals was “hugely exciting” and “an honour”.
“I have been watching MasterChef since I was a young kid at catering college and in more recent years I have enjoyed an established relationship with the programme,” said Wareing. “To now become part of the show is hugely exciting for me; to be asked is a true honour.
“Michel has left big shoes to fill and I am delighted to be working with Monica and Gregg on a new journey of discovery to find the next generation of Michelin-starred chefs.”
Monica Galetti, Michel Roux Jr’s soux chef at Le Gavroche, will remain as a judge on the show alongside ‘professional diner’ Gregg Wallace.
Galetti said of Wareing’s appointment: “Marcus is an incredibly talented chef and I can think of no better person to follow in Michel’s footsteps. I’m really looking forward to filming with him.”
Wallace called Wareing “One of the outstanding chefs of my era,” adding “I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with Marcus. He has complete and utter respect throughout the industry. My only query is will he have a beard or not!”