Restaurateur Joe Bastianich, who has been a longtime judge on MasterChef, will exit the franchise after the third season of MasterChef Junior.
Bastianich, 46, released a statement that read: "After several gratifying years as a judge on MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, I have decided to step down from my role on the show. It has been a pleasure working alongside Gordon and Graham on five seasons of MasterChef and three seasons of MasterChef Junior, and I look forward to continuing my current collaborations with Shine America. As co-owner and partner of the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, as well as Eataly throughout the Americas, I will be focusing my time and energies on their continued global expansion."
Bastianich, who appeared alongside famous chefs Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot, is known for his direct assessments on the show that sometimes appear to be too harsh.
Fox and "MasterChef" producers, Shine America and Ramsay's One Potato Two Potato, are on the lookout for a third judge for the popular cooking show.
"Joe has played an integral role in the success of both MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, and we all appreciate his incredible culinary insight, sense of humor and passion. He will always remain a member of the MasterChef family," producers Shine America, One Potato Two Potato and Fox said in a joint statement, Time reports.
At present, "MasterChef Junior" is in the middle of its second season and the third season will premiere on 6 January.
Overseas, Bastianich will continue to serve as a judge on "MasterChef Italia" and also on CNBC's "Restaurant Startup" which is to begin its second season in January 2015. He is also the executive producer of "Restaurant Startup".
The Italian chef is a winemaker and has restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Singapore and Hong Kong. He recently acquired the Italian production banner, Todos Contentos, and produces a travelogue food series called "On the Road" for Italy's Sky Network, Variety reports.