The MasterChef 20th anniversary dinner was “one of the most emotional evenings” of Gregg Wallace’s life.

The dinner took place at the Fishmongers Hall, London, during the BBC cooking competition’s semi-finals week and welcomed more then 70 guests who had been connected with the show over the last two decades.

Co-host John Torode was with the eight cooks, George, Cliodhna, Mary, Abi, Brin, Louise, Tom and Chris, in the kitchen, helping to get the three courses out to the assorted former winners, judges and contestants.

John Torode and Gregg Wallace
John Torode and Gregg Wallace (BBC/ShineTV/PA)

“John came up afterwards and by then he was exhausted because he’d been running the service with amateur cooks,” Wallace, who presents with Torode, said.

“But it was one of the most emotional evenings of my life. We’ve put a lot into this, John and I, over 20 years, and almost unknowingly this show has helped so many people achieve their goals.

“We’ve stood witness to so many people and I don’t think I’ve been in a room, since I got married, with so much warmth and joy.

“And it just seemed like everybody in there had their own little bit of our cookery show. They all own their own little bit, they were all part of it.

(l to r) George, Cliodhna, Mary, Abi, Brin, Louise, Tom, Chris (BBC/ShineTV/PA)

“It was an incredibly emotional evening. It was just crazy. Production asked me to give a talk and I gave three or four minutes but at the end, I said ‘This never ever was about me and John. This was always about you’.

“And at that point they all stood up and clapped and it was incredibly moving.”

Also joining the banquet was MasterChef narrator India Fisher, judge Tom Kitchin and previous winners, 2008 champion James Nathan and 2023 champion Chariya Khattiyot.

Fishmongers' Hall
Banquet at the Fishmongers’ Hall, London (BBC/ShineTV/PA)

“Without MasterChef, I would have been a very boring lawyer,” Nathan said.

“But as it turns out, I had a wonderful career in catering.”

He added: “To the fans on our 20th anniversary, I raise a glass. We wouldn’t be here without the support of the fans and everywhere I go people are so nice about the competition.

“It’s really heartwarming to meet people and still get recognised, about 18 years after I’ve done it, so I’m very happy.”

The episode airs on May 14 at 8pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer with semi-final week continuing on May 16 and 17.