John Torode and Gregg Wallace have been putting wannabe chefs through their paces since 2005. But as their 19th series of MasterChef dawns, after all these years, how well do they truly know each other? Who cries over trifle? Who is obsessed with the Moon? And who drives miles for a sausage roll? As the pair might say, interviews don’t get any tougher than this…


MasterChef has been going for a long time. What’s new this series?

John In this year’s semi-finals, we ask people to make dishes that are so wrong they’re right. For instance, fried chicken on a waffle with maple syrup. So wrong, but it’s pretty well right.

Gregg Super-delicious. That sweetness over crispy and salty chicken skin, with a soft and crispy waffle underneath…

Outside the MasterChef kitchen, there’s recently been a shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables. Are there alternatives for shoppers?

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Gregg We’re part of a global food market and as much as people say "we should use British this and British that", we haven’t been in that situation for hundreds of years. With that said, I'm a big fan of preserved foods and I don't consider them to be secondary to fresh – tinned, frozen, dried, bottled, pickled, air-dried, salted, I love them all. In fact, "fresh" bothers me a lot; I’d worry about how long so-called fresh produce has taken to travel from ground to mouth.

John We’re used to fresh produce, but there are alternatives. A tin of tomatoes is a wonderful thing.

TV double acts often project an image that they’re the very best of friends, always round at each other’s houses, but not in your case. How does your double act work?

Gregg As far as I know, nobody’s written a bestselling pamphlet on how to be a successful TV couple, which is what we are. People are amazed we can be close and not be round at each other’s houses. We’ve found a way for it to work for us.

Well, let’s see how well you know each other… John, what’s Gregg’s favourite dish?

John Roast lamb and mint sauce, butterscotch Angel Delight, or anything with custard. He has cried over a trifle that his grandmother used to make.

Gregg Spot on. John likes Korean and Thai food, but he also likes to sit up at a counter in a fish restaurant and have shellfish. He loves a simple roast chicken like his grandmother used to make. He also loves a pie… he turns it upside down and puts ketchup on it.

Who’s first to taste the dishes on MasterChef?

John Gregg will be straight in there. He has the fastest fork and spoon in the West.

Gregg It's often me, because John waits until the cameras are on him, but I just start eating. The camera operator will say, "Gregg, you’re going to need to take another mouthful, I need to get that shot."

What’s John’s guilty food pleasure?

Gregg Sausage roll.

John I know it’s processed, but a sausage roll is always in season! Usually, Gregg's guilty food pleasure is a packet of crisps he’ll sneak in between filming. He tells himself it isn’t that bad because it only has about 110 calories. But he won’t drive somewhere like I will to get a sausage roll.

Gregg I didn’t know that!

John It’s a day out for me, mate. I’ll even go out for a walk with the dog so I feel justified in having one.

Who’s funnier?

John Without Gregg, we wouldn’t have a fun set. I mean, his jokes are s**t [Gregg laughs], but every now and then he does come out with something very funny. It makes work joyous.

Gregg I just constantly crack jokes. When John does it can be hilarious, because he’s normally in serious chef and judge mode. But I’m funnier.

John Torode, Gregg Wallace – MasterChef
John Torode, Gregg Wallace – MasterChef BBC/Shine TV

Who has more common sense?

Gregg He does. Apart from this stuff about the Moon. I’ll say, "I didn’t sleep too well," and he’ll reply, "That’s because it’s a full Moon."

John It’s the Wolf Moon tonight, one of the biggest Moons of the year… either yesterday or the day before you were feeling all over the place. There's a big Moon tonight, and tomorrow you’ll be all right.

What are Gregg’s worst habits?

John Gregg wouldn’t have a clue he has a bad habit, because he thinks everything he does is all right. He has no idea he peels off his fingernails then cleans his teeth with his fingernails. He cleans the inside of his ears with a matchstick.

Gregg John deliberately sings songs with the wrong lyrics and butchers so many decent songs.

Who's the first to well up when a contestant becomes emotional?

John That used to be me; recently that's become a little more Gregg.

Gregg No, it's still you.

John Fine, I'm the emotional one. I like that, though. One of the great aspects of the success of MasterChef is that I can have a tear or a laugh without feeling anyone is going to judge me for it, and I think that's a wonderful gift to have on television. I thank the world for allowing me to do it.

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