John Torode at Masterchef Live in 2010
|Born||23 July 1965 (age 51)
|Occupation||Broadcaster, celebrity chef, restaurateur|
John Douglas Torode (born 23 July 1965) is an Australian celebrity chef. He moved to the UK in the 1990s and began working at Conran Group's restaurants. After first appearing on television on ITV1's This Morning, he started presenting a revamped MasterChef on BBC One in 2005. He is a restaurateur; former owner of the Luxe and a second restaurant, Smiths of Smithfield. He has written a number of cookbooks.
Torode was born in Melbourne, Victoria, but between the ages of four (when his mother died) and ten he lived in Maitland, New South Wales, with his grandmother who taught him to cook. He then lived in Edithvale, Melbourne, with his father and his brothers, though his father was frequently away from home because of work.
His early cooking career started at Le Coq Au Vin restaurant in Aspendale and his later apprenticeship was at several establishments in Beaumauris, both in Melbourne. He has said that the food in his childhood was fairly normal, and roast chicken remains one of his favourite dishes because of the connection to his childhood, although his favourite meal at that time was crumbed lamb cutlets. He has also said that one of the first books he enjoyed at school was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
He began his cooking career at the age of 16, after leaving school to attend catering college. He moved to the United Kingdom in 1991. A year later he began working at Le Pont de la Tour and Quaglino's as a sous chef for the Conran Group under Terence Conran. When he first met Conran, Torode asked his fellow chefs who that "nutter" was, as he'd arrived in the kitchen wearing a coffee stained shirt and clutching a bag of figs asking for them to be put on the menu. In later interviews, Torode described Conran as a "genius". Whilst working at Quaglino's, Torode first met Gregg Wallace, whose company supplied the vegetables for the restaurant.
He cooked on ITV1's This Morning in 1996, and continued in that role until 2000. Torode later described the reason for his departure as "because they wanted me to cook cheap food. I said that's not what I do. I cook good food that is accessible. I made a decision that I would never cook on television again. I didn't want to be "the celebrity chef"." In 1998, his cookbook The Mezzo Cookbook won the James Beard Foundation Award for "Best Food Photography". He opened his own restaurant in Smithfield, London in 2000, called Smiths of Smithfields. After a year, he opened a second restaurant, called Cafeteria, near Notting Hill Gate, this has since closed, making way for larger projects.
In 2005, the BBC television show MasterChef was re-launched with an updated format and with Torode and Wallace as presenters replacing Gary Rhodes. Torode was chosen instead of food critic AA Gill. By 2011, the show had been sold to 25 countries and what the Daily Mail called "the biggest" food-related television show worldwide. Torode has said in interviews that he enjoys that the show is unscripted and that the cameras are just there to capture the genuine interactions between the judges and the contestants. The show subsequently spawned a spin-off, also hosted by Torode and Wallace, called Celebrity MasterChef. In October 2009, Torode opened a restaurant near New Spitalfields Market in London, called the Luxe He sold his shares and moved on from the two restaurants, but under his leadership, turnover at the Luxe and Smiths of Smithfield reached £9.2 million .
Other television work
He has also co-presented Junior MasterChef, initially along with Nadia Sawalha, the former winner of Celebrity MasterChef, and more recently alongside Donal Skehan. and has presented a show for the Good Food channel in the UK alongside former Celebrity MasterChef contestant Hardeep Singh Kohli, called New British Kitchen. The show aimed to feature the impact of imported cuisines in Britain. Other television work has included an appearance on the BBC's The Magicians, which saw Torode and Wallace participate in a stunt by magicians Barry and Stuart which hung the pair off the side of the Tate Modern in London.
He presented the 2014 series John Torode's Australia; the 10 episodes retrace the flavours of John Torode's childhood and the people that inspired his passion for food as he travels the country to go back in time. It has been hosted on BBC Good Food and has so far had three re-runs. John Torode's Australia was also hailed as having the largest viewing figures on BBC Good Food in 2014. In 2015, he presented John Torode's Argentina as part of the BBC Two series A Cook Abroad, looking specifically at the country's production, cooking and consumption of beef. The episode explored the history and culture behind Argentina's great beef production and included John joining a group of gauchos on a working livestock ranch, before ending at a restaurant in Mendoza where cooking beef has become an art form.
John Torode has been a familiar face as a several-time guest on BBC1's The One Show, Alan Carr Chatty Man, The Graham Norton Show, Loose Women and ITV's This Morning. On 23 July, 2014 (as a keen cyclist) John was also a guest on ITV4's The Cycle Show. He was also featured on BBC News as one of the stalwarts behind the project 'Come..Eat Together!' The project encourages the elderly to get together in the community and enjoy food together, encouraging a better social existence and an air of security in their lives.
His latest show, Malaysian Adventure, aired on The Good Food channel throughout early 2016. This 10-part series, filmed throughout Malaysia and the UK, follows the success of 'John Torode's Australia' and is the acclaimed chef's highly individual take on the cuisine that inspires and fascinates him. In this mouth-watering show, the world sees the renowned international chef setting off on an exploration of the vibrant and varied cuisine of Malaysia. This AFP follows John as he travels throughout the country from the capital Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi island off the Northern coast. He cooks with local chefs, meets celebrity restaurateurs, visits colourful night markets and explores the impact of history and culture on the evolution of Malaysian food. Following his nose wherever it takes him, the series has a real sense of culinary adventure. Back in the UK, the much-loved chef re-imagines Malaysian cuisine inspired by his journey and creates a whole array of delicious recipes for viewers to try themselves.
Torode has five children. He was married to Jessica, the mother of his son and daughter but was divorced in 2014 after separating in 2011. He also has three other children from previous relationships. Torode is now the partner of actress and TV personality Lisa Faulkner, who won Celebrity Masterchef in 2010.
- Torode, John; Francis, Sarah; Conran, Terence; Murphy, James; Miller, Diana (1997). The Mezzo Cookbook. London: Conran Octopus. ISBN 9781850299226.
- Torode, John (1999). Relax – It's Only Food. London: Quadrille. ISBN 9781902757162.
- Torode, John (1999). Torode's Thai Trip. London: Granada Media. ISBN 9780233996493.
- Torode, John (2005). MasterChef Goes Large. London: Ebury. ISBN 9780091905576.
- Torode, John (2007). Good Mood Food. London: Quadrille. ISBN 9781844004485.
- Torode, John (2008). John Torode's Beef. London: Quadrille. ISBN 9781844006236.
- Torode, John (2009). John Torode's Chicken and Other Birds. London: Quadrille. ISBN 9781844007158.
- Torode, John (2011). Everyday MasterChef. London: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 9781405394352.
- Torode, John; Wallace, Gregg (2011). MasterChef Kitchen Bible. London: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 9781405394178.
- Torode, John (2015). My Kind of Food. London: Headline Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-4722-2585-6.
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- "Cookbook author Kamman, N.Y. chef win top awards". The Deseret News. 11 May 1998. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
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- Fletcher, Alex (3 February 2012). "'MasterChef' John Torode hangs off Tate Modern on 'Magicians' – video". Digital Spy. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
- "John Torode reportedly granted a divorce from his wife Jessica". HOLA. 22 February 2014.
- Mark Reynolds. "MasterChef John Torode gets quickie divorce to be with dishy Lisa Faulkner". Express.co.uk.
- The recipe of love! Heartbroken MasterChef presenter John Torode 'finds romance with celebrity winner Lisa Faulkner' Daily Mail, 18 November 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2014.