MASTERCHEF’S John Torode got a roasting from BBC bosses over comments that he wasn’t really mates with co-presenter Gregg Wallace.
The frankly-spoken Aussie caused a fuss after saying: “It’s funny, we’ve never been friends.”
And speaking exclusively to The Sunday Post, Gregg revealed that it led to a dressing-down.
“John and I had a laugh about it and started putting pictures of
ourselves on Twitter,” said Gregg, 53. “But he got told off a bit by the BBC and by the commissioner and the executive, saying he should have handled it a bit more carefully.”
However, Gregg admits the confusion may have arisen from the kind of relationship – which dates back well before their TV careers – he has with his co-host.
“I think what he was trying to say was that we’re not friends in the typical sense,” said Gregg, who’ll be one of the star attractions at this month’s Ideal Home Show Scotland in Glasgow.
“But it came out that we’re not friends, and that simply isn’t true.
“John was best man at my wedding and I’m not really closer to anybody else. Where it’s an unusual relationship – and it most certainly is – is that because we’re so friendly on telly, people think it’s make believe or that we’re close outside of work.
“We don’t see each other away from work, but we’re close in work seven months of the year.
“We don’t meet up at weekends, or share the same interests and we’ve never been to each other’s houses.
“But nobody’s been to my house. My home is my haven and when I’m there I don’t like anything that drags me out of it.
“It’s not a typical working
relationship – it’s actually closer – and it’s not a typical friendship, but it works for us.”
Just hanging pic.twitter.com/YVQjcsDJJW
— Gregg Wallace (@GreggAWallace) April 3, 2017
John’s best man duties were for Gregg’s marriage – his fourth – to Ann-Marie Sterpini last August.
He originally met Italian-born Ann-Marie – who is 21 years Gregg’s junior – on Twitter in 2013 and he says he couldn’t be happier.
“Look, I’ve got it wrong a number of times before and I’m convinced it’s a game of luck.
“This time I put my penny in the slot machine and I got three cherries up. It makes me look back and wonder how I made all those mistakes.
“I’m very fortunate. What is the chance at my age of finding somebody who has to offer what you’re looking for and you’ve got what they’ve been looking for? She is absolutely lovely. Old-fashioned Italians are all about marriage and family.
“She’s a very old-fashioned girl. We have a very clear distinction about what each other’s roles are supposed to be.
“If it’s inside the front door, it’s Anna’s. If it’s outside the front door, it’s mine. The only thing that crosses that border is the sacks of rubbish. I do that.”
So, with family so important to her, is becoming a dad again on the horizon? “We would like to have a baby,” confides Gregg, who has two teenage sons from his second marriage.
“I brought up my two sons on my own but I think when Anna’s having a baby her mum’s going to move in to help out. Having another good Italian cook in the house won’t bother me.”
MasterChef Finals Week starts tomorrow and once more the standard has been ramped up this series with some exceptional dishes and talent on show.
The final five will face a series of challenges before the ultimate winner is crowned on Friday.
“After 13 years I don’t get surprised any longer by how good people are.
“It used to worry me that we wouldn’t find contestants of the same calibre.
“But about five years ago it dawned on me that it’s the MasterChef experience that’s
taking them from good to great.
“It’s three months where they are doing nothing else but cooking. At the start they’re mentored by myself and John, but later on, they are learning from some of the greatest chefs in the country.
“You simply can’t do something like that without it having a huge impact. They have skill and style and creativity to get beyond the early rounds.
“The practice and mentoring they’re getting by the quarter and semi-finals are what push them into being absolutely amazing.”
Huge viewing figures across all the different series, including the Celebrity and Professional
versions, continue to make the show a phenomenon.
“Sometimes I have to stop and pinch myself at how lucky I am.
“MasterChef came along when I was 40 and I think that was the right time for me.
“I’d done my share of hard graft and I looked on this TV career as a real privilege.”
After long days of food tasting in the MasterChef studios, cooking is still on the menu when he gets home in the evening.
Seafood pasta would be his go-to dish if he was faced with a MasterChef invention test, while Anna’s a dab hand at stews, curries and chillies.
“I love to cook and relaxation at home is Anna and I cooking together with some Barry White playing and a bottle of wine.
“Anna might be half my age, but she’s twice the cook. She learned with her mother and her grandmother and she can’t remember a time she wasn’t cooking.”
Gregg will get a chance to demonstrate his culinary expertise at his Ideal Home Show outing.
“I’ll be doing a watercress soup with Scottish smoked salmon,” adds Gregg. “And I’ll be poaching a pear and serving it with almond custard with a bit of whisky in it.
“I always love coming to Scotland for the people. Glaswegians remind me of London when I was a child. They’re really chatty, friendly and outspoken.”
MasterChef Finals Week culminates in the Final on Friday at 8.30pm.
Ideal Home Show Scotland is at the SEC Glasgow from May 26 to 29. www.idealhomeshowscotland.co.uk
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