As the latest series of Masterchef: The Professionals kicks off tonight on BBC2, Michel Roux Jr has finally vented his anger at the breakdown in relations with the BBC that led to him walking away from his key role on the programme.
When negotiations with the BBC broke down in March, his commercial relationship with Albert Bartlett potatoes the apparent sticking point, Roux confined himself to saying he was ‘frustrated’.
Now, in an exclusive interview with Business First magazine, he says he walked away because BBC executives impugned his honour and integrity.
‘They were suggesting that if, for example, we got to the final of Masterchef and there were two chefs that were cooking a dish, I would favour the one that used a certain variety of potatoes, because of my association with Bartletts. Now that is questioning my honour and my integrity. So sorry, but that’s just not on, no,’ he told the magazine.
Roux, who owns the two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche in London’s Mayfair, says he was doubly outraged by the double standards he felt were blatantly at work.
‘There are lots of other TV presenters – not just chefs – who endorse products openly, do not toe the line and are allowed to get away with it. There were so many precedents to this situation of openly endorsing a product for financial gain – several outrageously big precedents before me – but apparently they were within editorial policy. It’s a minefield.
‘My view on the BBC is that it is run by a bunch of bureaucrats adhering to an outdated editorial policy. And I do feel that they are hypocritical and that they are two-faced.’
Michel Roux Jr told the magazine he loved doing the series and would welcome an opportunity to return to television.