Masterchef Australia has a new judging trio after its three longtime judges bid farewell to the popular cooking reality show in July. Jock Zonfrillo, Andy Allen and Melissa Leong have been appointed as the new judges of the show, following the departure of Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris.
For the first time, the show will feature a permanent female judge. Melissa is a Singaporean Australian food and travel writer. She has also worked as a television host and judge on the series The Chefs’ Line. “I could never have dreamed that I would be asked to be part of the next chapter of this great Australian legacy, and it is with deep respect and appreciation for everything that has come before, that we take our first steps into the new,” she said.
Jock is a chef originally from Scotland and is the owner of celebrated Adelaide restaurants Bistro Blackwood and Orana. He also hosted the adventure cooking series Nomad Chef, which ran from 2014 to 2015. “It’s a privilege to be asked, & I can’t wait to get in the kitchen with Melissa and Andy to uncover Australia’s next MasterChef!” he said.
Masterchef viewers are likely to be familiar with Andy, the third judge, after he won the title during the fourth season in 2012. He is also the co-owner at the restaurant Three Blue Ducks in Rosebery. “This is really humbling and has come full circle for me,” he said.
Matt, Gary and George, who had turned into household names across the world after judging the widely-successful series for 11 seasons, left the show this past summer. At the time, Network 10 CEO Paul Anderson told the media that the decision was made as the judges and the network could not reach a commercial agreement that worked for both parties.
The news also came amidst a swirl of controversy involving one of the judges. George Calombaris had been accused of underpaying 515 current and former staff members at his restaurant by AUD $7.8 million.