Restaurateur Joe Bastianich, who has been a judge alongside Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot on MasterChef and its offshoot MasterChef Junior since their launches, is departing the popular Fox cooking franchise. He has been on MasterChef for the five seasons to date and on MasterChef Junior for Seasons 1 and 2. He is reprising his duties on the upcoming third season of MasterChef Junior, slated for a January 6 premiere. Fox and MasterChef producers, Shine America and Ramsay’s One Potato Two Potato, are looking for a replacement beyond that. “Joe has played an integral role in the success of both MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, and we all appreciate his incredible culinary insight, sense of humor and passion,” they said in a statement. “He will always remain a member of the MasterChef family.”
In addition to the third season of MasterChef Junior, Bastianich also is set to appear on the second season of another series he has with Shine America, CNBC’s Restaurant Startup, which also debuts in January. Bastianich has been focusing on his TV business in Italy; he will continue in his role on MasterChef Italia, he recently acquired the Italian production company Todos Contentos and currently is in production on Season 2 of On The Road for Italy’s Sky Network. Additionally, Bastianich has his core restaurant business, mainly through his partnership with Mario Batali, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, including their latest eatery, Eataly, which is opening new locations in the U.S. and Latin America.
“After several gratifying years as a judge on MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, I have decided to step down from my role on the show,” Bastianich said. “It has been a pleasure working alongside Gordon and Graham on five seasons of MasterChef and three seasons of MasterChef Junior, and I look forward to continuing my current collaborations with Shine America. As co-owner and partner of the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, as well as Eataly throughout the Americas, I will be focusing my time and energies on their continued global expansion.”