After 11 seasons, MasterChef Australia's 3 judges have left the popular cooking series
George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan make a shocking exit but their replacements may already have been found.
The three original MasterChef Australia judges who have been on the show for the past 11 seasons have made a shocking exit. Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris hosted their last episode of the popular cooking competition series on Tuesday (Jul 23) night with the Season 11 grand finale.
Speculation has arisen that the departure may have something to do with Calombaris’ recent troubles. He was fined A$200,000 (S$192,000) last week for underpaying his staff by nearly A$8 million (S$7.67 million) over six years, leading to pressure on Network 10, which produces the show, to drop him.
However, the network has said that the judges have decided not to continue due to pay issues. The Age and Sydney Morning Herald have reported that the trio were after a 40 per cent pay increase, which they were not able to secure.
Network 10 released this statement through CEO Paul Anderson: “Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George.”
He thanked the judges for being part of the show and confirmed that the series will continue with Season 12 next year with “the next generation of exceptional judges.”
Mehigan, however, has refuted the statement in a social media post. “It 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. Something we felt very strongly about,” he wrote.
He added: "What a journey, what an experience. It was time to move on, have more free time to explore our own creativity.”
Calombaris also took to social media to thank the fans, past contestants, the team, and family and friends.
Several names have already been bandied about as replacements just hours after news of the original judges’ departure.
Australia’s Who magazine reported that Maggie Beer, Curtis Stone, and former MasterChef star Poh Ling Yeow will be the new judges for Season 12.
However, a Network 10 spokesperson told Yahoo Lifestyle that nothing's been confirmed. “Maggie, Curtis and Poh are loved members of the MasterChef family. We are currently casting the judges for 2020 and no decision has been made.”