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 and has written a number of cookbooks.
When his mother died when he was four he lived in Maitland, New South Wales, with his grandmother who taught him to cook.
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.
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 and a year later began working at Le Pont de la Tour and Quaglino’s as a sous chef for the Conran Group under Terence Conran. It was while 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 when he left “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 2005, the BBC television show MasterChef was re-launched with an updated format and with John and and Greg Wallace as presenters replacing Gary Rhodes. John 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 the spin-off Celebrity MasterChef also hotsed by John and Greg and he also co-presents Junior MasterChef alongside Donal Skehan.
In October 2009, he 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.
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