'MasterChef' Loses Another Original Judge

Graham Elliot is the second original member to leave the franchise after Joe Bastianich parted ways with the series last year.

AceShowbiz - Another original member of "MasterChef" is leaving the franchise. %cGraham Elliot% announced on Friday, December 18 that he would be leaving both the flagship series and its spin-off "MasterChef Junior".

"It has been an awesome experience to be part of the 'MasterChef' family," Elliot said in a statement. "I learned so much from the people I got to work with and it has been a true honor to share my love of cooking with the audiences who have allowed me into their homes over the last 6 years. I remain committed to using my passion for cooking as a way to entertain and teach people of all ages, and will be making some exciting announcements about the next steps of that journey in the new year."

In a joint statement, FOX, the show's production companies Endemol Shine North America and %cGordon Ramsay%'s One Potato Two Potato said, "Graham has been an incredible judge and mentor both on 'MasterChef' and 'MasterChef Junior'. He's provided insightful guidance and support to hundreds of participants who have entered the 'MasterChef' kitchen and he has played an integral role in discovering some of the country's greatest home cooks. Graham will always be a part of our 'MasterChef' family and we wish him all the best in his next chapter."

Producer Ramsay, who is now the only remaining original judge, also commented on Elliot's exit. "We've all loved having Graham as part of the 'MasterChef' family, and the exciting and interesting part of reality television is that it's always evolving and changing," he said.

Elliot will complete the current fourth season of "MasterChef Junior", which airs on Friday nights, before he departs. No replacement has been named yet, but a new judge is expected to be announced in the new year.

Late last year, another founding judge, %cJoe Bastianich%, announced his decision to leave the series. He was then replaced by %cChristina Tosi%.

Before news of Elliot's departure broke, "MasterChef" announced a celebrity special which is set to air Monday, January 18 at 8 P.M. The two-hour charity special will test the cooking skills of some renowned stars as well as previous "Masterchef" and "Masterchef Junior" contestants.

"Masterchef Celebrity Showdown" will include four battles of %cGigi Hadid% vs. %cDevon Windsor%, %cTerry Crews% and %cRebecca Crews% vs. %cBoris Kodjoe% and %cNicole Ari Parker%, %cKaitlin Doubleday% vs. %cTa'Rhonda Jones%, "Masterchef" winners vs. "Masterchef Junior" season four contestants.

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