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A hugely popular and influential figure on the UK culinary circuit, John Torode is best known as the straight-talking co-presenter and judge of BBC's MasterChef and for his well-established restaurant at the heart of London's meat market - Smiths of Smithfield.

Australian by birth, John is credited as one of the main players in introducing Australasian food to the UK in the mid-1990s. In 1992 he joined the Conran Group, starting out at Pont de La Tour before becoming Sous Chef at Quaglino's. In 1995, John became Head Chef for the launch of Mezzo in Soho; at the time one of Europe's largest restaurants.

He opened Smiths of Smithfield in 2000. The four-floor Grade-II listed restaurant, private dining room and café, located in the heart of Smithfield Market, continues to be a roaring success and a firm fixture on both the restaurant and bar scenes. John is now leading the team behind Smiths towards the next venture: another multi-storey operation, The Luxe, due to open at Spitalfields Market in 2009.

John is passionate about sourcing the Best Of British produce, particularly within the meat industry, where he has long been a champion of rare breeds. In his quest to source the very best produce for Smiths, he has built strong relationships with many small farmers & butchers throughout the UK and aims to share his knowledge through his widely distributed "Fine Meat List". John has just produced a new cookbook (his third), namely John Torode's 'Beef' and other bovine matters. In this meaty book, John not only gives us every which way to cook with beef but also gives the history and importance of great and rare breeds, butcher's recommended cuts and true head to tail eating.

John became a familiar face to TV audiences back in 1996 as the resident chef on ITV1's This Morning with Richard and Judy; a role in which he continued for four years. Since 2004 John has paired up with Gregg Wallace, handing out feedback, criticism and support to hundreds of hopefuls aiming to be crowned MasterChef (or indeed Celebrity MasterChef). He is a frequent panellist on The Wright Stuff for Five, a regular guest chef and host on Saturday Kitchen for BBC1, has appeared as an expert panellist on The Apprentice: You're Fired for BBC2 and a popular guest on shows such as The One Show, Loose Women, The Alan Titchmarsh Show and BBC Breakfast, as well as numerous radio programmes. He has also read Bedtime Stories on the CBeebies channel.

John's TV programmes have attracted a huge audience. The series final of MasterChef in February 2008 saw BBC2 hit the ratings jackpot, as up to 5.7 million viewers (23.2%) tuned in; making it not only the most watched edition of the show but the most watched programme of the 8pm hour, beating all other channels. MasterChef is also included in the Top Ten list of the most Sky Plussed shows of the year and its popularity has placed John and Gregg on the front cover of several magazines including the Radio Times. John has also been a hit on UKTV. In 2008 he teamed up with comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli for a 10-part series exploring the diverse culinary communities of multicultural Britain. New British Kitchen - Torode and Hardeep's Tour aired in May 2008 on UKTV Food. Within the first week the show was already proving a real success, overtaking the rest of the channel's ratings.

A well-known food writer, John regularly contributes to Olive and BBC Good Food magazine, as well as Red magazine and has supplied numerous articles for the Guardian, Mail and Observer newspapers.

John is a very popular choice for corporate events, including culinary demonstrations, informative talks and Q&A sessions. He was a member of the judging panel for the Glenfiddich Food & Drink Awards and appears twice-yearly at the BBC Good Food Show in London and Birmingham.

Pictures courtesy of BBC Good Food magazine.

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