MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace issues this WARNING to contestants

(Image credit: BBC/Shine TV)

MasterChef judge reveals the one thing contestants shouldn't do

MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace has revealed the one thing contestants should NEVER do if they want to impress him – LIE to make their dish sound exotic!

"It’s my pet hate," says Gregg, who returns for MasterChef 2021, which starts on Monday March 1 at 9pm on BBC1.

"I’ve learnt over the years that if people prefix their dish with a geographical location it’s usually rubbish! If you make a good fish stew, just call it a fish stew! Don’t give it a geographical position and say it’s a ‘Vietnamese fish stew’ in the hope of making it sound more authentic. Anyone who names their dish after some exotic place they’ve been on holiday makes me suspicious."

"It’s true," grins fellow MasterChef judge John Torode. "One of the biggest lessons – which all contestants should learn actually – is don’t make up some wacky story about their dish when it’s not true! Don’t say it’s a Portuguese family favourite or Mexican staple if you’re not entirely convinced it is, because Gregg will research it and pull you apart if he finds out it’s tosh! He hates people trying to pull the wool over his eyes."

Here, the judging duo reveal what’s in store for the 40 contestants hoping to be crowned this year’s MasterChef champion…

MasterChef 2021 judges

No lying now to John and Gregg!

Any new challenges this series?

Gregg: "There’s a new Favourite Ingredient Challenge in the early heats: the idea being that contestants should be able to rustle up something half-decent with food they love – although not always! And later we task them with impressing us with four themes: street food, a classic pudding, a holiday-inspired dish and stone fruit!" John: "Giving a little twist to each series is one of the secrets of our success. It’s important to evolve and keep fresh."

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Do you both guess the winner early in the contest?

John: "Oh, we’ve always found our winner in the first two weeks. And by week four they’ve gone!" Gregg: "Over the years I’ve learnt that it’s not the best contestants at the start that win the contest; it’s the ones who listen to advice from John and their fellow contestants who progress the most."

How tricky was it filming during the pandemic?

Gregg: "Luckily, cooking doesn’t have to be a group activity so we could film the series, although things were quite different. I liked that contestants had to make two separate plates for us, so there was no elbowing each other for the best bits! It was the physical side I missed most – not being able to hug John or the crew! John: "I was careful to social distance, follow the rules and stay safe to protect myself and others."

Have you spotted any new cookery trends this series?

John: "We’re served a lot of lamb and unfortunately it’s the worst-cooked dish! Why people think a thick lamb rack cooks in 15 minutes I don’t know." Gregg: "Lamb sashimi anyone? For crying out loud! We’ve got some experimental cooks this year: look out for squid cooked five ways, that’s an interesting invention!

Anything you can tell us about the final?"

John: "That there’s a fight to the end. I love that!" Gregg: "You can tell people have practised cooking more in lockdown as the standard’s higher than ever. We’ve got a brilliant contest and champion for you."

Article written by Rebecca Fletcher.

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!