MasterChef: The Professionals has announced its return date, which will debut Monica Galetti's replacement as the show's new judge.
Galetti had spent 14 years on the BBC One contest, but earlier this year announced she would be stepping back for at least this year to concentrate on her COVID-hit businesses as well as her family, explaining "something had to give".
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Acclaimed chef Anna Haugh was named as her replacement, and viewers can now look forward to seeing her take her place alongside Marcus Wareing and Gregg Wallace in the new series, set to begin on Wednesday, 2 November.
Haugh said: “I’m thrilled to join the MasterChef judging team and meet new chefs on new adventures. I’ll be judging the same way I judge my own chefs in my kitchen - I’ll be firm but fair and my expectations are high. I cannot wait to see what this year’s competition is going to bring.”
She will jump straight in by setting the first challenge alongside Wareing - a nerve-wracking skills test.
Professional chefs will aim to make it through six gruelling weeks of the contest, but those who reach the finals will have the chance to meet Galetti as she will make a brief return to judging.
Galetti is set to be a guest at the daunting chef's table challenge in the final rounds, where contestants will cook for her and Jason Atherton, Matt Abé and some new Michelin-starred talent at the Lanesborough Hotel in London.
Talking to The One Show in May, Galetti explained: "I’ve only been able to commit time to the show for three months when my team are strong, and I can have the balance of family, the restaurant and all my other commitments.
"When I’m filming, people don’t realise I do a 12-hour day of filming, and then I will get back to the restaurant in the evening."
She continued: "But at the moment, things are just out of sync, things are tough at the moment.
"I’m trying to spend time with my family, I have an ill nephew that I try to get back to see and filming was all starting at the same time.
"I’m short at the restaurant, I’m here tonight and straight after this I’m back in my kitchen."
Galetti admitted: "I just found a cannot manage the balance this time, and I just knew that something had to give, I think for my own mental health as well.
"It was just getting very dark trying to give 100% to this and 100% to that, and sometimes you just can’t do it all."
MasterChef: The Professionals returns on Wednesday, 2 November on BBC One.
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