‘Strange’: Fans react to MasterChef judges

 

 

The verdict is in on the new MasterChef judges.

The long-running cooking show has returned to Channel 10 last night for its all stars series with three new faces at the helm, following the shock departure of veterans George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan last year.

The episode kicked off with a montage of the trio during their many years on the show, before announcing a "new era" for MasterChef as the new line-up was introduced, alongside this week's guest judge Gordon Ramsay.

Fans were initially sceptical when the network announced the relatively unknown Melissa Leong, Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo would be fronting the series in 2020.

MasterChef Australia’s new judges Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.
MasterChef Australia’s new judges Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.

And it seems the feedback on social media is mixed.

Many fans praised the change, dubbing it "refreshing".

But others said they missed the old judges, with some pointing out they provided more entertainment.

 

Network 10 announced it had pulled the plug on Preston, Mehigan and Calombaris just hours before the season 11 finale aired in July.

In a statement chief executive officer Paul Anderson said, "Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George."

"We would like to thank Gary, George and Matt for their contribution over the past 11 years," he said.

In an interview on Kyle and Jackie O's KIIS FM in the aftermath of the bombshell news, entertainment reporter Peter Ford claimed it was money that killed the contract negotiations.

"It was about money. Don't forget, this is only a four-month-a-year gig. They initially went in wanting $1.5 million each and a guarantee of two years - that's $9 million in total," he alleged.

"They can make a lot of money on the side - that glow of being on TV gives them the chance to go and appear at a food festival for the day and pick up $100,000. Even doing an after-dinner speaking gig, they can pick up $30,000-$40,000 for that."

At the time, Preston confirmed on Instagram the trio were "really keen to continue but we were unable to agree to all terms for the new contract".

 

Mehigan wrote on his Instagram that the decision to walk away was "never about the money and never will be about the money".

"We couldn't agree on the term of the new contract for 2020 and season 12 … Working together will continue to be the most important thing for us," he said.

Calombaris, Mehigan and Preston were reportedly on salaries "well over $1 million", the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

All three were believed to have left MasterChef after the network refused to up their salaries "by more than 40 per cent", according to the newspaper.

Their departure also came amid reports Calombaris underpaid staff working for his Melbourne restaurant empire more than $7.8 million.

The chef and his Made Establishment company was fined a "contrition payment" of $200,000 by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Calombaris apologised for his actions, but that did not stop more than 22,000 people signing a petition calling for him to be sacked from MasterChef.

MasterChef airs on Channel 10 weeknights at 7.30pm

Originally published as 'Strange': Fans react to MasterChef judges



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