MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace says MBE is ‘akin to a fairytale story’

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Gregg Wallace has told of the “unbelievable honour” of being made an MBE saying being recognised for the honour is “something akin to a fairytale story”.

The broadcaster, who is best known for co-presenting the popular cooking show MasterChef and its spin-offs alongside John Torode, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to food and charity.

The 57-year-old, a former greengrocer, is also an author and successful business owner.

MasterChef final
John Torode (left) and Gregg Wallace (BBC/PA)

“From a council estate in Peckham to being recognised by the Queen is for me something akin to a fairytale story. I am incredibly, incredibly proud”.

Wallace also paid tribute to his presenting co-star, Torode, who is also being made an MBE, saying: “It is also lovely to be recognised with John and to look back at how far we’ve come. It’s been quite a journey from the moment when I first walked into his kitchen with coriander roots.

“We’ve now worked in and around the food industry for 40 years – not just MasterChef of course but in our respective roles as chef and greengrocer.

“I feel like I’m sharing this with my TV families. MasterChef has undoubtedly played an enormous part in this recognition.

“Over 18 years the MasterChef team has captured the hearts of the nation, whilst celebrating the very best of our food and hospitality industry.

“It has also inspired hundreds and hundreds of contestants who have gone on to have their own successful food journeys in many different areas of the industry.

“To be given an MBE as part of that is humbling and something I’m very proud of.”

Born in Peckham in south-east London, Wallace began his career in the Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market.

He started George Allan’s Greengrocers in 1989 and has gone on to have a successful broadcasting career, presenting many shows over the years among them Veg Talk on BBC Radio 4 with Charlie Hicks.

He was also the original presenter of the BBC show Saturday Kitchen in 2002 and has featured on Eat Well For Less, Inside The Factory, Turn Back Time, Harvest and Supermarket Secrets.

He took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2014 and was partnered with Aliona Vilani.

His most notable role is that of judge and co-presenter of BBC’s MasterChef since 2005 with Torode, also being made an MBE for his services to food and charity.

Wallace, who also hosts Celebrity MasterChef and MasterChef: The Professionals, has produced a number of cookery books and regularly writes for food magazines.

The TV star revealed that a doctor had cautioned him in 2017 that thanks to high cholesterol, he was “heading for a heart attack” if he did not take action.

He has been open about his weight loss over the past couple of years and started a weight-loss and health site called ShowMe.Fit.

Gregg's Italian Family Cookbook

In 2020, Wallace, who is a long-standing Wasps supporter, was among the stars backing a Premiership Rugby campaign urging its players to call vulnerable fans during lockdown.

His autobiography, Life On A Plate, was published in 2012 and Gregg’s Italian Family Cookbook, a book he co-wrote with Anna, was published in 2019.

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