MasterChef and MasterChef Junior judge Joe Bastianich is leaving both series.

Bastianich will be departing the franchise after MasterChef Junior's third season, which returns to Fox on January 6, and producers are now looking to fill his spot. The newbie judge will work alongside mainstays Chef Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot.

"After several gratifying years as a judge on MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, I have decided to step down from my role on the show," Bastianich said in a statement obtained by the Hollywood Reporter.

"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 is a restaurateur with eateries in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Singapore. He has served as a judge on the original MasterChef series since its inaugural season debuted back in July 2010.

"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 reportedly said in a joint media statement.

Bastianich will continue to serve as a judge on MasterChef Italia, according to the Reporter. He will also continue to appear on CNBC's Restaurant Startup and produce On the Road for Italy's Sky Network.

MasterChef's fifth season just concluded in September, but Fox has already announced it's renewed the reality culinary competition for a sixth edition.

About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.