Joe Bastianich is hanging up his fork. At least as far as “MasterChef” is concerned.
Bastianich is exiting “MasterChef,” Fox and series producers Shine America and One Potato Two Potato said Wednesday.
He will take part for the last time in the franchise on the upcoming third season of “MasterChef Junior,” which premieres Jan. 6 on Fox.
The judge said he is leaving to focus on his business interests.
“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 of his exit. “It has been a pleasure working alongside Gordon[Ramsay] and Graham [Elliot] 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.”
Bastianich will also continue to produce CNBC’s “Restaurant Startup,” which launches its second season in January.
The producers of “MasterChef” are currently finalizing the selection for Bastianich’s replacement, who will sit and eat alongside Ramsay and Elliot on the judges’ panel.
“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,” Shine America, One Potato Two Potato and Fox said in a joint statement. “He will always remain a member of the ‘MasterChef’ family.”