Stick a form in him and for goodness sake, hold the truffle oil: Joe Bastianich is done with MasterChef and spinoff MasterChef Junior.
The New York restaurateur and longtime judge of the FOX cooking competition has announced that he is leaving both reality shows in 2015. He has starred on both programs, which focus on home cooks, since they debuted.
"After several gratifying years as a judge on MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, I have decided not to return for a sixth season," Bastianich said on his Facebook page on Wednesday. "As co-owner and partner of the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, as well as Eataly throughout the Americas, I will be focusing my time and energies on their continued global expansion."
Bastianich is known for his stern critiques, some of which could give fellow acerbic judge and multi-program food reality star Gordon Ramsay a run for his money.
The latter star and third colleague Graham Elliot have not commented about Bastianich's departure from the U.S. MasterChef shows or about their own futures with the hit franchise. Producers are currently in the process of casting a third judge to replace Bastianich, E! News has learned.
"Joe has played an integral role in the success of both MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, and we all appreciate his incredible culinary insight, sense of humor and passion," producers Shine America, One Potato Two Potato and FOX said in a joint statement to E! News. "He will always remain a member of the MasterChef family,"
"It has been a pleasure working with FOX, and alongside Gordon and Graham on five seasons of MasterChef and three seasons of MasterChef Junior, and I look forward to continuing my current collaborations with Shine America," Bastianich said.
He isn't leaving the franchise entirely and he will still be seen on the upcoming season 3 of MasterChef Junior, which premieres on Jan. 6. FOX is currently airing the second season of the show, which focuses on contestants between ages 8 and 13. There, the judges are much less critical of the competitors and the series has been touted as one of the most heartwarming of reality programs.
In addition to concentrating on his restaurant business, Bastianich is also continuing his reality TV career outside of the United States.
He also still stars as a judge on MasterChef Italia, where he speaks Italian (and once told a contestant, in English and in aired remarks that were uncensored, "This dish is a piece of s--t and you, my friend, are an a--hole.")
Bastianich also appears on the Canadian series Restaurant Startup, a Shark Tank-like show that sees teams pitch him and fellow restaurateur Tim Love ideas for restaurant concepts and the two then decide whether or not to invest their own money in them. Bastianich said in his post that he will reprise his role in season 2, which also debuts in January, and has also begun casting for season 3.
He said that he also acquired the Italian production company Todos Contentos and is working on season 2 of Italian reality show On the Road.
—Additional reporting by Athenia Veliz-Dunn