Masterchef Australia bids farewell to judges Matt, George, Gary after 11 years

The announcement comes on the heels of a controversy around George Calombaris for underpaying restaurant staff by AUD $7.8 million.
Masterchef Australia bids farewell to judges Matt, George, Gary after 11 years
Masterchef Australia bids farewell to judges Matt, George, Gary after 11 years
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Masterchef Australia, the competitive cooking show with cult following world over, has announced that it is bidding farewell to Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris, the three iconic celebrity chef judges who have been on the show for eleven seasons.

In an Instagram post ahead of the telecast of the season finale, Masterchef Australia said that it was bidding a “fond farewell” to the trio. “For more than a decade, #MasterChefAU has celebrated Australian food and made the culinary dreams of everyday home cooks come true. We thank Matt, George and Gary for being a part of this remarkable MasterChef legacy!” it added.

This comes shortly after one of the judges, George Calombaris was swept into controversy for underpaying 515 current and former staff at his restaurants by a whopping AUD $7.8 million. However, Network 10 where Masterchef Australia airs, backed George. A spokesperson said, “George and MAdE Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter. George has the support of Network 10.”

George’s company is called MAdE Establishment. The controversy had first surfaced in 2017 when it was estimated that 162 workers had been underpaid by $2.6 million due to “historically poor resources.” The Fair Work Ombudsman in Australia had been investigating the issue.

Network 10 CEO Paul Anderson told the Guardian that the decision was made as the network and the trio had not been able to agree to a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to the judges.

Meanwhile George was dropped as the face of West Australia Tourism after the controversy. Tourism WA earlier had a contract with him to be the face of content that to "design your own gourmet escape".

In relation to the underpayment, George was ordered to pay $200,000 which he would have to pay as “contrition payment”. He is also mandated to make public statements to encourage compliance with the Fair Work Act.

He also issued a statement last week where he apologised to his team. “We apologise to all our affected team members, past and present – as it is our people that make our restaurants great, and it is our priority to ensure all of our employees feel respected, rewarded and supported in their roles.”

Later on Tuesday, Gary, Matt and George all issued statements on their social media. While Gary and Matt said that they could not agree with Network 10 on all the conditions of the new contract for 2020. George said that their "dates didn't align." Read their full statements here.

Masterchef Australia is presently in its 11th season and is a spin-off of the original British Masterchef. 

(This story has been updated.)

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