'MasterChef' viewers complain contest is not the same without Monica Galetti
MasterChef: The Professionals launched its new series last night, but fans couldn't come to terms with the absence of long-running judge Monica Galetti.
The New Zealand chef first joined the BBC One contest for its second series in 2009 and has been a regular fixture in the presenting and judging panel ever since, so viewers found it difficult to adjust to life without her in the kitchen.
Read more: MasterChef: The Professionals - where is Monica Galetti?
Galetti, who first hosted alongside Gregg Wallace and Michel Roux Jr, and more recently with Wallace and Marcus Wareing, shared earlier this year that she would be sitting out the series to concentrate on her family and on rebuilding her restaurant business which had been hit hard by COVID lockdowns.
She said in April: "It is with a heavy heart that I’ve made this decision to step back from filming this year’s series of MasterChef: The Professionals.
"My family need me, my restaurant needs me and trying to balance long filming days over the next three months with all these commitments meant that something had to give.
"So, for the moment, my focus has to be 100% about my loved ones and rebuilding my kitchen team who have had a battering over the last few months especially. Those in the hospitality industry know just how tough it is at the moment."
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But the news had passed many regular viewers by, while others who did know not to expect her in the kitchen were feeling her absence keenly.
One viewer tweeted: "Blimey. Monica is Gonica."
Someone else wrote: "Where the HELL is Monica!!!!????"
Another person shared: "I’m not one for change so the lack of Monica is really distressing me. Although this new judge seems lovely too."
After 14 years of working on the MasterChef spin-off, which pits professional chefs against each other, many regular viewers found it too strange not to see Galetti on screen.
One person tweeted: "Bit of a curve ball from Masterchef here. No Monica."
Someone else commented: "Masterchef Professionals is just not the same without Monica."
Another Galetti fan wrote: "Not sure I can do Masterchef Professionals without Monica."
However, Galetti's replacement Anna Haugh was a hit with viewers, who warmed to her during the series debut episode.
One viewer tweeted: "Love @Anahaugh debut on masterchef as a judge. Who ever chose Anna made a brilliant choice."
Galetti will return as a guest judge for the chefs' table challenge in the final.
MasterChef continues tonight at 9pm and on Friday at 8pm on BBC One.