How to win MasterChef according to the judges, Gregg Wallace and John Torode

How to win MasterChef according to the judges, Gregg Wallace and John Torode

MasterChef is back for a 13th series on the BBC, but what does it take to be crowned champion?

We caught up with judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode to find out what they’re looking for.

To win over Gregg…

Sometimes, simple is better

One of my favourite things is minced lamb, boiled potatoes and tinned peas with gravy, because I just don’t get a chance to eat it. You just don’t get the chance to eat the food I was brought up with, like mashed potatoes and tins of beans.

Don’t just grab any old bit of chicken and think you can make it Michelin star-worthy

What worries me, what makes me nervous? It’s when someone automatically just grabs for a protein and then takes it away and hasn’t really thought about what’s going to go with it, that’s the kind of British meat and two veg philosophy. That makes me nervous, for them, not to eat it, just for them because I don’t think it’s going to be a particularly great dish.

Don’t answer back on how undercooked or overcooked something is

You say ‘That’s undercooked’ and what really frustrates me is when contestants say, ‘Well, I didn’t want to overcook it’. Well, I didn’t want you to overcook it either!

You’d better not mess up noodles, because everyone can do them now

Asian style food has become as normal to us in the UK as European. Everybody seems to be quite a dab hand at some noodles and some Asian spices.

Serve him anything that has chocolate in it

Chocolate, I love chocolate, I’m very happy [if someone gives me chocolate], it’s a very versatile thing and they can be really creative with it.

Don’t smarm up to the cameras and judges

Some of the contestants act up in front of me and John, they’ll start sniffing things in a semi-professional kind of manner. It’s alright, you don’t have to sniff that carrot, just put it down, it’ll be fine to grate!

If you get to the professional kitchen round, remember that even Gregg is nervous for you

Trying to recreate the food of a truly great chef I still think is very, very nerve-wracking, because at any point that chef could absolutely explode – just go nuts. These are driven, driven people, so for an amateur trying to recreate dishes from people bordering genius, is a huge challenge.

And to win over John…

Don’t even think about serving couscous – or mashed potato

The word couscous usually fills me with dread because so often it’s gluggy and under seasoned and just this soggy mash of stuff, and the other one is mashed potato. ‘I’m doing something with mashed potato.’ Right, ok, so how many lumps will it have and will it be really gluey and sticky? It’s simple things like that that I’ll think, ‘No, please don’t do it’.

Cook with aubergine as much as you like

We’ve seen more things done with an aubergine than we’ve ever seen before [this series], and the aubergine is an extremely adaptable vegetable.

Same goes for any wild creatures you can shoot in the British countryside

British game is right up there, which is fantastic. We saw more quail this year, partridge, pheasant and grouse than we’ve ever seen before, which is brilliant.

Do your research, get through the first round and you’ll be fine

Nothing will be harder than the first challenge, because of your nerves. You are properly, very, very nervous, and the great cooks are the ones who have lots of information stuffed up their sleeve and they know what they’re doing and they’ve been watching, researching, they’re the ones and you can really see it.

Terrified? Get a grip, and try and enjoy it. It’s just pots and pans after all

Guys, it’s ok, you’re here to cook, you love to cook, just chill out a bit and go enjoy yourself, have a nice time.

MasterChef returns to BBC One on Wednesday, March 29 at 8pm.

More in this Section

Emily Blunt recalls first meeting with Jungle Cruise co-star Dwayne JohnsonEmily Blunt recalls first meeting with Jungle Cruise co-star Dwayne Johnson

Netflix reveals title and release date for Breaking Bad filmNetflix reveals title and release date for Breaking Bad film

Daisy Ridley says she may get a puppy to cope with life after Star WarsDaisy Ridley says she may get a puppy to cope with life after Star Wars

Disney shares first picture of Emma Stone’s ‘punk rock’ Cruella de VilDisney shares first picture of Emma Stone’s ‘punk rock’ Cruella de Vil


It will be tricky trying to see everybody at the huge Stradbally event next weekend, so Ed Power selects the ones you definitely shouldn’t miss.10 must-see acts at Electric Picnic

Dawn Behan owns Woodbine Books in Kilcullen, Co. Kildare.We Sell Books: ‘It’s lovely to see you are doing something right’

It hasn’t been the ideal summer for observing the skies, but as we move into September we live in that almost annual hope of an Indian summer, writes Niall Smith.Skymatters: Enjoy the last of the summer stars and check out 'Vega'

Actually the lights were on when I got dressed this morning, says Luke Rix-Standing.11 things you’ll only know if you have no sense of style

More From The Irish Examiner