John Douglas Torode is an Australian-British celebrity chef and TV presenter. He moved to the UK in the 1990s and began working at Conran Group's restaurants. After first appearing on television on ITV's This Morning, he started presenting a revamped MasterChef on BBC One in 2005. He is a restaurateur; former owner of the Luxe and a second restaurant, Smiths of Smithfield. He has also written a number of cookbooks, including writing some with fellow MasterChef presenter and judge, Gregg Wallace.
He began his cooking career at the age of 16, after leaving school to attend catering college. He moved to the United Kingdom in 1991. A year later he began working at Le Pont de la Tour and Quaglino's as a sous chef for the Conran Group under Terence Conran. While working at Quaglino's, Torode first met Gregg Wallace, whose company supplied the vegetables for the restaurant.
He cooked on ITV's This Morning in 1996, and continued in that role until 2000. In 1998, his cookbook The Mezzo Cookbook won the James Beard Foundation Award for "Best Food Photography". He opened his former restaurant in Smithfield, London in 2000, called Smiths of Smithfield. After a year, he opened a second restaurant, called Cafeteria, near Notting Hill Gate. Its closure made way for larger projects.
Torode has presented a show for the Good Food channel in the UK alongside former Celebrity MasterChef contestant Hardeep Singh Kohli, called New British Kitchen. The show aimed to feature the impact of imported cuisines in Britain. Other television work has included an appearance on the BBC's The Magicians, which saw Torode and Wallace participate in a stunt by magicians Barry and Stuart which hung the pair off the side of the Tate Modern in London.
He presented the 2014 series John Torode's Australia; the 10 episodes retrace the flavours of John Torode's childhood and the people that inspired his passion for food as he travels the country to go back in time. It has been hosted on BBC Good Food and has so far had three reruns. John Torode's Australia was also recorded as having the largest viewing figures on BBC Good Food in 2014. In 2015, he presented John Torode's Argentina as part of the BBC Two series A Cook Abroad, looking specifically at the country's production, cooking and consumption of beef. The episode explored the history and culture behind Argentina's great beef production and included Torode joining a group of gauchos on a working livestock ranch, before ending at a restaurant in Mendoza where cooking beef is regarded as being an art form.
Torode was featured on BBC News as one of the people behind the project 'Come Eat Together!' The project encourages the elderly to get together in the community and enjoy food together, encouraging a better social existence and an air of security in their lives.
Torode's 2016 show, John Torode's Malaysian Adventure, aired on the Good Food channel throughout the early part of 2016. The 10-part series, filmed throughout Malaysia and the UK, and was commissioned as a result of the success of John Torode's Australia. In the programme, Torode explores the vibrant and varied cuisine of Malaysia, and travels throughout the country from the capital Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi Island off the northern coast. He cooks with local chefs, meets celebrity restaurateurs, visits night markets and explores the impact of history and culture on the evolution of Malaysian food.
The Korean Food Tour (2017, Good Food Channel) sees Torode travel around South Korea, to the mountains, the cities, the countryside and the coast and work his way through some of the nation's top 100 dishes then creating his own version of Korean classics with a modern twist.
Torode's recent food tours led to his 2017/2018 culinary adventure John Torode's Asia. This recently premiered on the Good Food channel, achieving the highest viewing figures for the channel since March 2013. Commissioned by Good Food's Luke Hale and UKTV's Sally Quick, the series is funded in partnership with a number of organisations including the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
In each location, Torode looks for the most inspiring cooks, discovering the distinctive flavours of their country's cuisine. Cooking on location with local chefs, each episode sees several dishes created, popular and typical of their region. This includes eating in an underwater restaurant, discovering a street food market on the banks of the Yangtze River and making traditional dumplings with a Beijing family, ultimately inspiring the viewer to bring the cuisine of Asia into cooking.
In 2018, John Torode's Middle East (10 x 30 minutes) produced by Blink Films, featured the chef as he travelled across the region to find delicious eats.
In March 2019, Torode, along with actress and food writer Lisa Faulkner, was given his own weekend cooking show. They host John And Lisa's Weekend Kitchen on Sunday mornings on ITV.
John Torode has signed on for two years as ambassador of The Kimberley through APT, one of Australia’s leading companies in the tourism industry. Torode said: “The Kimberley was a region I was aware of but even as an Aussie I hadn’t considered it as a holiday destination. Coming on board as APT’s ambassador and visiting for the first time this year, just wow – it blew me away.”
On 21 July 2022, John Torode's Ireland premiered on Food Network, the six-part series sees the chef discovering Ireland's varied cuisine.