‘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.
And it seems the feedback on social media is mixed.
Many fans praised the change, dubbing it "refreshing".
This judging team - it's refreshing that there is finally some Female energy #MasterchefAU— Stay at home Jane (@austenite20) April 13, 2020
But others said they missed the old judges, with some pointing out they provided more entertainment.
Great that Masterchef is back but I miss the old judges already #MasterChefAU— Billy (@billyn123) April 13, 2020
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".
View this post on Instagram
Thank you so very much for supporting @masterchefau over the last 11 years. We have loved every single moment. It is however with a heavy heart that I can confirm that season 11 was our last. We were really keen to continue but we were unable to agree to all terms for the new contract. We have enjoyed 11 wonderful years on Masterchef Australia with Network Ten, and I want to take this opportunity to thank Ten for this amazing opportunity and for Network Ten’s backing of this very special show. We have met some beautiful people, discovered and guided some of the brightest up-and-comers in the Australian food scene, worked with the best chefs in the world in front of the camera, and with the TV industry’s finest professionals behind the scenes. And of course, we three judges have formed a lifelong friendship that will live on far beyond the show. I want to take this opportunity to thank you and everyone who has shared our amazing journey with us - especially all those fantastic contestants. I look forward to sharing many more adventures with you in the future. And finally I wish the new judges all the best with the show that we love so much. Thank you all. I don’t want to take any gloss off tonight’s well deserved winner so I will not be making any further comment. Love Matt.
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
Strange not seeing George, Gary and Matt - but already like the new judges on #MasterChefAU. And some high calibre cooks too. It’s the little bit of normality we need in this crazy world right now.— Anthony Clark (@AnthonyClarkAU) April 13, 2020
I don't want to speak too soon but I love the new judges and I love this show #MasterChefAU— Maya (@tweetmayatweet) April 13, 2020
You can already tell that this is going to be one of the best seasons of #MasterChefAU EVER 😍 I love the vibe the new judges bring 🙏— Francisco Torres (@franciscosayshi) April 13, 2020
At the risk of sounding shallow, this must be the most attractive panel of judges EVER #MasterChefAU— ... (@DaydreamerAus) April 13, 2020
I’ve already forgotten about those old judges #masterchefau— Laura QuaranPiva (@PivaLasVegas) April 13, 2020
I’m scared that having unproblematic judges will make for a less funny twitter. Despite being glad. #MasterChefAU— Ruby the Masterchef (@MasterchefRuby) April 13, 2020
So who’s gonna yell “boom boom shake the room” now? #masterchefau— Dean Nye (@Dean_Nye) April 13, 2020