If you’re a professional chef, there’s really no sweeter gig than being a celebrity chef on television. Some of the biggest names in the food industry have seen their careers catapulted to the stratosphere after appearing on TV, with many of them even leaving their kitchens to become full-time TV personalities.
One chef who took full advantage of his time on TV is Graham Elliot, who used to be a judge on FOX's MasterChef. Graham was a judge on MasterChef from the time of the show's inception but left the competition series in 2015. As a result, many fans still wonder: Why did Graham step down from the judge's panel on MasterChef?
Why did Graham Elliot leave 'MasterChef'?
Graham Elliot was one of the original judges on MasterChef back when it premiered in 2010. He was an immediate hit on the show and got such a positive response from fans that the network asked Graham to be a part of the spinoff MasterChef Junior, which started airing in 2013.
But after a fulfilling four seasons on MasterChef, Graham announced in 2015 that he was leaving the franchise. He wasn’t the first to leave. Just one year earlier, in 2014, Joe Bastianich — who was on the judging panel during the early days of MasterChef as well — also left the cooking competition.
While Joe was eventually replaced with Christina Tosi, Graham’s place on the judge’s panel was taken by Aarón Sánchez. Aarón is still with the show today, but Christina has since left and was replaced by the chef she originally took over for, chef Joe Bastianich, who made his return.
It’s unclear exactly why Graham decided to leave the successful franchise. In the statement announcing his departure, Graham said that he thoroughly enjoyed his experience on the show and learned a lot from his television family.
And it seemed that his MasterChef family missed him, too. After Graham made his announcement, FOX said that Graham had “provided insightful guidance and support to hundreds of participants who have entered the MasterChef kitchen and ... played an integral role in discovering some of the country’s greatest home cooks.”
Gordon Ramsay himself also had only the nicest things to say about Graham, commenting, “We’ve all loved having Graham as part of the MasterChef family, and the exciting and interesting part of reality television is that it’s always evolving and changing.”
One possible explanation for Graham’s departure is that he just wanted to move on to different and newer projects. In his statement, Graham also said that he still intended to use his passion for cooking “to entertain and teach people of all ages” and teased that he would be following up with some “exciting announcements” in the future.
Just months later, Bravo announced that Graham would be joining the judges' panel for Season 16 of Top Chef, alongside host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, and judges Gail Simmons and Richard Blais. In addition to his judging duties on Top Chef, Graham also appeared as a judge on Food Network’s Cooks vs. Cons, hosted by Iron Chef winner, Geoffrey Zakarian.