Celebrity chef Simon Gault has hung up his hat on his restaurant business to be a better father.

The ex-MasterChef NZ judge revealed on Monday that he would be leaving the Nourish Group, which owns nine restaurants including Euro, Jervois Steak House, The Crab Shack and Fish.

The 50-year-old father-of-one told the Otago Daily Times the move had been brewing for a while.

His daughter, Hazel, with wife Katrina, was now 20-months-old and Gault feared fatherhood would pass him by too quickly.

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"Racing around New Zealand from one restaurant to another isn't conducive to being a great dad," he said.

"It takes me out of Auckland too often and leaves me getting home too late and leaving too early to see all those occasions that happen with a young person growing up."

The restauranteur will still head Simon Gault Home Cuisine and food importer Sous Chef, and a return to television isn't out of the question. Gault departed the MasterChef judging panel after the reality cooking show was dropped by TVNZ last October.

Gault is in negotiations over the sale of his 15 per cent stake in Nourish Group - whose stable also includes Wellington's Pravda and Shed 5, Bistro Lago in Taupo and Jervois Steak House in Queenstown.