As MasterChef UK returns to the BBC for series 20, judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace embark on an exhilarating journey across eight weeks, to discover the UK’s best amateur cook, one plate at a time, serving up surprises and extra special occasions along the way. So what can we expect from the 20th serving? John and Gregg reveal all.

How does it feel being back for the 20th series? 

John: I don't think either of us believed that when we did the first ever show and we had 96 contestants come through the door, over those 90 days of filming, we would still be here 20 years later, tasting incredible food. It’s always surprising.

Gregg: For me, I would say it's just a wonderful place to be, it's a fabulous place to be. We've been working with really good people for 20 years. I think it's just inspirational to watch people with incredible talent, reaching for the stars trying to achieve their goals and fulfil lifelong ambitions.

How has MasterChef changed over the past two decades?

John: If you consider then the first ever series, in the final, we had a starter of pâté and soda bread. So that will give you an idea of how far the competition's come in 20 years. Whether it be, you know, everybody using aubergines until aubergines come out their ears. We've seen everything, haven't we. Whether it be Thai or Chinese, whether it be Mexican or West Indian, we've seen lots and lots of trends come through, stay and go. But as I say, now what we're seeing is this multicultural country, being very, very proud of the different things we do.

Gregg: I think in terms of how the filming has changed, it's a lot quicker. It's not just John and I, who have always been natural, you've got crews that have grown up together. Camera crews, camera guys, sound guys, directors, producers who have honed it over the years so they know exactly what it needs and what they want from it. So, it's an incredible operation – but one that does work as a real team, with real care about the food, the people and the craft of making this amazing series.

What keeps viewers interested? How does it feel fresh each year?

John: I think if anybody knew how we keep on doing 20 years of television, everybody would be taking the idea and doing it themselves. I suppose the thing about MasterChef is that it's full of variables, there are only two constants in MasterChef and those two constants, one’s Gregg and one’s me - they're the only two constants. The rest is variable, but it stays in the same theme, it's based around food and celebrating success.Every single culture has different food, every person has a different view of food and everybody has a different taste of food. So we all have an opinion. For us on the show, it’s usually a positive or constructive comment and although it may be disappointing, it's never negative. It's never putting someone or something down.

Gregg: I think it's very simple. I think what keeps it fresh are the contestants; that you just have new people all of the time, with different personalities, who aspire to different things, with different skill sets and different passions. So, although in its simplest form, people come into the MasterChef kitchen and cook, it's never the same. It's never the same because the people and their food in the kitchen are different.

John: And I think that that really shows in the new challenge in the Heats - Thinking on Your Feet. The fact that all of the contestants who haven't made it through for that first round have the same sort of outline for the dish. Say it’s gnocchi, you’ll end up with completely different dishes from every single contestant and that doesn't happen with anything else. You can't do it in mechanics, you can't do it with wine, you can't do with singing really, but with food, of course, you can.

Food is an extraordinary thing. A piece of steak is not a piece of steak is not a piece of steak. It could be a fillet, a sirloin, a ribeye, or an onglet. It can be so many different things and done in so many ways. It’s the variety of ways in which we view a steak or pumpkin or apple and all their varieties. This is why everything changes and moves.

What do you think you’d have done if you hadn’t joined MasterChef?

Gregg: John and I already had media careers that were starting but I think I would have stayed in food supply. I think I’d have stayed in and around the food industry because we all make a living out of things we've been shown how to do. So, unless somebody shows us something else, we stay with what we know how to do.

John: I think when you get older, you make a choice, don't you? And for me, I wanted to spend more time with my children, so I decided to opt to do MasterChef instead of running restaurants full time like I was. I think I would still be involved with restaurants. MasterChef has been very kind to me. I'm very, very grateful so thank you, MasterChef, and to everybody for keeping on watching.

Images: BBC/Shine TV. The new MasterChef series starts Monday 1st April on BBC One, or watch on catchup on the BBC iPlayer