MasterChef may still attract millions of viewers, but John Torode and Gregg Wallace's most recent series of the amateur cookery competition has been slammed by critics.
The judges themselves hit back at claims the show was 'too easy' this year, reminding naysayers that they're more interested in tasty food than cheffy gimmicks.
"Why don’t we get those critics to come and do those challenges? Come and do the challenges guys and let’s see how good you really are!" John says when speak to him, adding that Natalie Coleman, the show's winner this year, is a truly exciting cook.
Gregg adds: "There’s a lot more knowledge about food out there now so people are expecting something really dramatic from the contestants on MasterChef – something really bonkers.
"Bonkers and delicious is amazing but very hard to pull off. We’re looking for food that really works – that tastes brilliant. And that’s really not easy!"
John explains that the key to MasterChef's success is all down to the people on the show and their passion for food, and that this year has been no different.
"This year the contestants were all very different - different origins, different styles. Shivi [Ramoutar] and Rukmini [Iyer] just came and blew our heads off with the most amazing food. Then there was Dale [Williams] who’s so fast and so technically gifted, it’s incredible. We saw the man make a Tarte Tatin in eight minutes!
"I just think all through the series it’s about the people that cook for us and it’s been an incredible series."
And the foodies are 100 per cent behind Natalie, whose simple but tasty food brought her the MasterChef crown.
"Oh I love her, she’s brilliant," John says. "If you win MasterChef, you’re great, you’ve got to be good. She’s a clever girl and she cooks for the people and that’s what I love about her. She cooks food that people want to eat, she cooks food that’s really interesting and exciting but also very accessible.
"The people that win MasterChef are not just great cooks, they’re real. If you look at any past winner, it’s them. It’s not trying to be something else, it’s not trying to prove anything, what they’re doing is cooking from their heart and it’s really who they are."
"When you cook like that you bare your soul and that is exactly what Natalie’s done. I think that’s a really wonderful way to do it."
The High Life
Now the show's finished for another season (though we're keeping an eye on TV schedules for Junior, Professional or Celebrity MasterChef, as the programme is so rarely off our screens), John and Gregg have teamed up with Heathrow Airport, accepting the challenge to eat their way round in 80 plates to help promote the airport as a foodie hotspot.
"We ate more than I thought it was possible going around Heathrow that day," Gregg laughs. "My favourite is the Caviar House – get a glass of champagne and a nice plate of caviar and you’re already on holiday."
John also has somewhat expensive tastes, "For me it depends who I’m travelling with. If I’m travelling by myself I would probably take a bottle of champagne, I quite like the idea of that, some caviar, some bread - that would be all right for me."
Gregg admits that he loves travelling, particularly now he always flies business class and doesn't have to fuss about with food in little packets. "Once you’re through security, I really love the airport experience. It’s where you unwind, chill out, have a drink and get into that holiday zone.
"Travellers have no idea what’s available to them. We tend to just hit the first thing we see when we're rushing through the airport, unaware that a short walk away is something much better.
Gregg has famously joined WeightWatchers to lose the weight gained rather inevitably in his foodie line of work. The self-described 'fat, bald bloke who loves puddings' lost two and a half stone on the programme, but chef John prefers exercise to dieting.
"I hate the gym," he tells us. "I used to love it. When I was younger I used to do steps and I liked the music and it was fun but I just don’t like the changing rooms and that sort of stuff [now]. I cycle a lot, I like to cycle everywhere and round Richmond Park is lovely.
"I try and get on my bike as much as I possibly can for the simple reason that what I do in my life, is I eat. Somehow I’ve got to get rid of it!"
John and Gregg are helping to create Heathrow’s first ever food guide. Food on the Fly will provide passengers with an overview of the dining options available in the airport. It will be given out at the airport and can be downloaded at www.heathrow.com from July.