Monica Galetti is to step down as a judge on MasterChef: The Professionals for its next series.
Monica has been part of the judging trio for the last 14 years, joining first with Michel Roux Jr and Gregg Wallace and then with Marcus Wareing from 2014.
However she will not be a part of the line up for the upcoming series, making a statement today.
Monica said: "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."
Monica added: “To my MasterChef family, crew and friends, I’m so sorry that I won’t be with you this year but I hope to be back soon.
“Thank you to both BBC and Shine TV for being so understanding of my decision but for this year I’ll be your number one supporter from the side lines. To my fellow judges and friends Marcus and Gregg – I’ll be watching – you’ve got this! If you’re ever unsure just think – what would Mon do?! See you soon!”
Taking over from Monica in the next series of MasterChef: The Professionals will be Anna Haugh, head chef at Myrtle Restaurant in London.
Anna said: “MasterChef has an impeccable reputation and legacy within the hospitality industry. I have long-admired Monica as an incredible chef and she’s paved the way for female chefs. It’s a privilege to be keeping her seat warm in the MasterChef kitchen.”
Sarah Clay, Commissioning Editor for Entertainment at the BBC, added: “Monica is a valued member of the MasterChef family, and while we will miss her expertise and invaluable cooking and food knowledge, we fully support her filming break to focus on her family and business. We wish her luck and hope to see her back in the MasterChef kitchen in the future....
"Anna is a wonderful addition to the MasterChef family, her food knowledge is exceptional. I’m looking forward to seeing her critiques and bringing her warmth and enthusiasm to the kitchen."
David Ambler, Executive Editor MasterChef, commented: "Monica is one of the most talented chefs of her generation, we have worked together closely for the past 14 years and regard her as an integral member of the MasterChef family. Our hope is this situation is just for this season and the door is always open for her to return.”
MasterChef: The Professionals will return to BBC One later this year.
You can catch up on past series online now via the BBC iPlayer here.