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Joe Bastianich Explains Why He Left MasterChef and MasterChef Junior

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"I had a great experience. It was a show that changed my life. I stepped away."

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Last November, restaurateur Joe Bastianich announced he was leaving his position as a judge on competition show MasterChef and its pint-sized spin-off MasterChef Junior, and now, he's explaining his decision. E! News writes that on a recent press tour the Italian vintner/partner in Eataly revealed why he's leaving the show. Bastianich has been involved with the MasterChef franchise since it debuted in 2010, and while he enjoyed his run, it was time to move on: "I had a great experience. It was a show that changed my life. I stepped away."

Perhaps he wants more time to focus on his other television projects. Bastianich is "very involved" as a producer and star on CNBC's Restaurant Startup. Plus, he isn't completely done with MasterChef: Bastianich still serves as a judge on MasterChef Italia, which helped catapult him to superstar status in Italy. E! notes that the restaurateur is currently "looking for more opportunities to do television."

News broke earlier this week that Momofuku Milk Bar's Christina Tosi will take Bastianich's place on both MasterChef and MasterChef Junior. Tosi is joining chefs Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot as the show's third judge. MasterChef season six is set to air this Summer.

Eater Video: Lidia Bastianich makes Gnocchi at home