MasterChef is back with a winning recipe after axing former judges

Sarah Carty
Features & Style Editor

Fans of MasterChef Australia were left fuming in July when it was announced that beloved judges, Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris would not be returning to the show. 

But now it looks like they’ve managed to reel their loyal followers back into the fold, with the major news that some of the most-loved contestants to ever appear on the show are coming back. 

MasterChef has announced the class of 2020 and there are some very familiar faces amongst the group. Photo: Supplied

Fan favourites such as season one runner-up Poh Ling Yeow, season two runner-up Callum Hann and season seven’s Reynold Poernomo will join new judges, Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, in a total show revamp. 

The ‘Back To Win’ contestants will fight it out for the ultimate prize - reclaiming the trophy that eluded them the first time around. 

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for 10 years and now I’m back. I have a little bit of unfinished business,” Poh said.

“Everyone who’s here is at the top of their game. This is going to be really, really tough. There’s cookbook authors, TV presenters, restaurant owners and those who just missed out,” Hayden Quinn, said. 

“MasterChef changed my life. I’m stoked to be going up against the best of the best. I’ve learnt a lot, my skills have improved, I’m here to take it out.”

Also joining the show is season four’s Amina Elshafei, season four’s Ben Milbourne, season nine Ben Ungermann, season ten’s Brendan Pang, season one’s Chris Badenoch, season two’s Courtney Roulston, season three’s Dani Venn, season six’s Emelia Jackson, season eight’s Harry Foster, season three’s Hayden Quinn, season ten’s Jess Liemantara, season ten’s Khanh Ong, season six’s Laura Sharrad, season five’s Lynton Tapp, season ten’s Reece Hignell, season seven’s Rose Adam, season ten’s Sarah Clare, season nine’s Sarah Tiong, season eleven’s Simon Toohey, season eleven’s Tessa Boersma and season six’s Tacy Collins. 

Judges axed

The new line-up was announced after the original judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris left the show in July last year. 

The shock announcement came in the wake of George Calombaris being found to have underpaid staff by more than $7.83 million across his restaurant empire, which led to calls from former workers and unions for the star to be dropped from the popular reality show.

In October, the new MasterChef judges were announced. Photo: Supplied

It’s understood that the judges decided to leave after failing to secure pay rises from the network, and that their exit is not related to George’s recent case.

According to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, the trio were after a 40 per cent pay increase.

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

New judges announced

Then in October, Channel 10 revealed its surprising choice of new judges, Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.

All three are no strangers to the small screen, with Andy even first finding fame on MasterChef, when he won season four back in 2012.

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