Gregg Wallace, one of the hosts of TV's MasterChef, has appeared to detract from the achievement of former winner Thomasina Miers, claiming she would not be good enough to compete today.
The comments came despite the fact that Miers, who won in 2005, has since gone on to found nine-strong Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca.
Wallace told the Radio Times: "I don't think she'd win MasterChef nowadays. The knowledge and the skill of the contestants is rising, year after year."
But Miers was defended by 2011 winner Tim Anderson, who said: "Tommi [Miers] is the hero of all the MasterChef champions. She's the one who's built an empire; she has inspired us."
Wallace has also tried his hand at the restaurant business, having launched Gregg's Table, subsequently renamed Gregg's Bar and Grill, at the Bermondsey Square hotel. When it opened last year, Gregg's Table was met with a largely negative response from critics.
Guardian food critic Marina O'Loughlin, who was one of the critics to criticise Wallace's efforts at the restaurant took to Twitter today to offer her views on his comments about Miers.
"Greggy W dissing Thomasina M is like Cher Lloyd having a pop at Beyonce," she said.