When Greg Wallace met John Torode
When Greg Wallace met John Torode, the two Masterchef presenters had no inkling they would still be colleagues 30 years later but without ever becoming friends.
The duo admits they are hardly the Ant and Dec of the culinary world – they have never even been to each other’s house!
Yet their relationship works well, as it gives an edge to their television performances. Despite their admission they aren’t close friends, they both trust each other completely. They feel safe in the knowledge they will support each other on-screen, no matter what.
Wallace, 57, met Torode, also 57, back in 1991. At the time, Wallace was a greengrocer who provided fresh produce for Torode’s restaurant, Quaglino’s, in central London. Now, 31 years later, they are both household names, after co-presenting MasterChef and Celebrity MasterChef for almost 18 years.
New Celebrity Masterchef
Torode revealed the surprising news about their relationship, as the new BBC Celebrity Masterchef line-up was announced. The famous competitors honing their cooking skills as they compete in the kitchen will include TV presenter Lisa Snowdon and comedian Paul Chuckle.
Announcing the news on Instagram, Snowdon said she was “so excited” about the show, adding, “You all know I love my food. It’s going to get hot in that kitchen!”
Torode and Wallace will be putting 20 celebrities through their paces in the famous TV kitchen. Other competitors will include Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Katya Jones, former world boxing champion Chris Eubank, Love Island star Faye Winter and McFly musician Danny Jones.
Born in October 1964 in Peckham, Wallace left school at 15 to work in a warehouse at Covent Garden Fruit and Veg Market. He then sold vegetables at a stall, while saving to set up his own business. In 1989, aged 25, he launched George Allan’s Greengrocers – his middle name being Allan. The company had an eventual turnover of £7.5 million.
Torode was born in July 1965 in Melbourne, Australia. His grandmother taught him to cook and he took his first chef’s job at the age of 16 at Le Coq Au Vin restaurant in Aspendale, Melbourne. He moved to the UK in 1991 and began working at Quaglino’s as a sous chef.
Wallace would deliver fresh vegetables to Quaglino’s and got talking to Torode after their first meeting. In 2010, Wallace opened his Wallace & Co restaurant in Putney, followed by Gregg’s Bar & Grill in 2012, in partnership with the Bermondsey Square Hotel.
With a TV career that began in 2002, Wallace became a presenter of Saturday Kitchen on BBC1. Meanwhile, Torode became the guest chef on ITV’s This Morning in 1996, where he continued to work until 2000.
Masterchef career launch
The duo came together as co-hosts of Masterchef in 2005. Despite having known each other since 1991, they had never socialised or worked together before. Over the years, they have managed to find some remarkable talent through the show.
Series one winner Thomasina Miers went on to write several cookery books and made several TV shows after Masterchef. She then opened her own chain of Wahaca restaurants. In 2019, she was presented with an OBE for services to the food industry.
Series five winner Mat Follas opened his own restaurant, The Wild Garlic, recommended in the Michelin Guide and the Good Food Guide. He also launched Bramble Cafe & Deli in Poundbury, Dorset. He has returned to Masterchef as a guest judge, teaches cookery and has written two books.
Past winners of Celebrity Masterchef have included Olympic athlete Greg Rutherford in 2019, when he beat rivals including reality stars Vicky Pattison and Joey Essex and Strictly’s Oti Mabuse.
EastEnders actor and TV presenter John Partridge won in 2018, after beating Made in Chelsea’s Spencer Matthews and ex-rugby player Martin Bayfield, who has since written his own cookery book, There’s No Taste Like Home.
Despite their own admission that they are not good friends, Wallace and Torode have an on-screen camaraderie that viewers enjoy. They never even dine together, saying they enjoyed a “one-off ritual meal” at the beginning of their Masterchef career, but that was as far as their off-screen friendship went. After filming stops, they go their separate ways.
Wallace believes their on-screen relationship works so well because they never fight for space. They don’t compete for airtime and don’t suffer a clash of egos.
The new 2022 series of Celebrity Masterchef starts on BBC1 tomorrow, 10th August.
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