Exclusive – Gregg Wallace hints at strong MasterChef 2021 line-up as the competition gets even tougher

The MasterChef judge says this year's contestants have done their homework for the 17th series.

MasterChef 2021

A new series of Masterchef will kick off on March 1st, introducing viewers to a brand new line-up of amateur chefs looking to impress judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.


And it sounds like this series could be the toughest one yet, with Gregg hinting at a super strong batch of contestants.

Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, he revealed: “I think it [the competition] goes up every year.”

“What we realised, me and John, was that the standard was incredible even at the early stages. What we suspect has happened is because so many people are working from home, we think they’ve had a lot more time to practice, because we couldn’t believe the standard of the cooks in the early rounds. We normally get a mixed bag. This time we were getting good cook off after good cook after good cook.”

Gregg thinks the ability on this year’s show, which will be the 17th series on the BBC One show, is so high even previous MasterChef winners would struggle against them.

Speaking of series one winner Thomasina Miers – who is the co-founder of restaurant chain Wahaca –  Gregg said: “I think it was Thomasina, our first ever winner, who said, ‘My god, nowadays, I wouldn’t even make it past a quarter final.’ I do think it’s because it’s been on for so long and whoever is signing up for the show must have watched the show so they’re fully aware of how high the standard is. So they’re putting in a lot of homework before they come on.”

The cooking show will kick off with brand new episodes from the beginning of March.

Over the next few weeks, contestants in each heat will compete against one another in a bid to secure a spot in the quarter finals.

MasterChef winner Thomas Frake
MasterChef 2020 winner Thomas Frake

Last year, saw Thomas Frake fend off competition from the rest of the contestants to be crowned the 2020 MasterChef winner.

Speaking of his win, he said: “Honestly, it’s a dream come true. It’s been immense and the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I can’t see me not working in food for the rest of my life because it just makes me happy seeing other people happy with it.”

Gregg commented: “Thomas has a definitive style. He takes the ordinary and make it extraordinary. I really admire Thomas. He wants to take all the foods that he grew up with and make them better.”

While John added: “Thomas is a real talent and his food has always been about putting a smile on your face. I admire Thomas’ work ethic, he’s a grafter. He’s able to take a classic and deliver it with real style and finesse. That’s the gift of a great cook. He knows exactly the direction he wants to go in and, for me, his food today tasted fantastic.”


Series 17 of MasterChef starts on BBC One on March 1st. If you’re looking for something to watch tonight, check out our TV Guide. Visit our hub for more Entertainment news.