MasterChef Australia's hottest behind-the-scenes scandals

·4-min read

We're used to on and offscreen drama during reality TV filming, but MasterChef Australia is considered a family-friendly show and is known for its supportive environment.

So it is all the more surprising to discover the wrongdoings of some contestants, before or after filming.

Here are scandals that shocked MasterChef Australia fans.

A montage of past Masterchef Australia cast members
Things got complicated behind the scenes for cast members of Masterchef Australia.


Julie Goodwin's DUI

Inaugural MasterChef Australia winner, Julie Goodwin was arrested in 2018 and charged with driving under the influence, after officers observed her doing a U-turn and trying to drive away from a random breath test site.

The Central Coast-based chef blew more than double the legal limit and pleaded guilty in court, copping a $600 fine and six-month licence suspension.

“I accept full responsibility for this error in judgment, which I believe is completely out of character for me,” she stated.

MasterChef winner Julie Goodwin smiles at the camera behind a display of her books with Myer promotional banners in the background. She was attending a book-signing to promote her new cookbook 'Our Family Table' at the MYER City store on April 20, 2010 in Perth, Australia.
Inaugural MasterChef winner Julie Goodwin got busted for drink driving in 2018. Photo: Getty Images

“I want to take the opportunity to offer a heartfelt and unreserved apology to my family, my colleagues, and to the broader community.

"I would also like to apologise to everyone that has supported me over many years; I have let you all down.

“I am devastated that I have acted in a way so contrary to what I believe, to how I usually conduct myself, and to what I have taught my children.”

Ben's shock arrest

It was a shock to judges and producers when 2020 MasterChef contestant and father-of-three, Ben Ungermann, was arrested during filming.

He was charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Melbourne.

The production crew edited him out of the show as much as possible.

Ben, 38, admitted to the lesser charge of common law assault against the 16-year-old girl after prosecutors dropped three sex assault charges.

He was placed on a diversion program and no finding of guilt was made against him.

MasterChef Australia contestant Ben Ungermann with knife and knife sharpener in front of a piece of meat
MasterChef Australia 2020 contestant Ben Ungermann was arrested during filming. Photo: Instagram/@ben_ungermann

"Mr Ungermann's position has always been that he didn't have any intention, there was no deliberate act," his barrister Abbie Roodenburg said.

"The character references speak to a man that is a family man, who's there to help, who's kind and compassionate … your honour could be satisfied that this one incident is out of character," she told the court.

Reynold’s homophobic past

Reynold Poernomo was a popular contestant on the 2014 MasterChef Australia show, but his past was open to scrutiny and what was found was pretty ugly.

Just months before filming, Reynold had taken to a body building site and added to the discussion on the first gay Disney couple.

“I wish the world made a united decision where they will capture all gay people and put them on a remote island full of gays, that way straight ppl (people) will be happy and the freaks can go on and f... themselves,” he wrote.

"Is homosexuality a mental illness? Yes, end of thread."

The comments were revealed in 2020 when he returned to the franchise for MasterChef Australia: Back to Win, shocking viewers, cast and crew alike.

MasterChef Australia contestant Reynold Poernomo posing with his fried rice recipe
Dessert king Reynold Poernomo got into hot water when old homophobic posts were uncovered. Photo: Instagram/@reynoldpoer

“I would like to offer my sincere and deepest apologies for the comments that I made in 2014. I am ashamed of these comments and I regret them immensely,” he stated.

“At the time these comments were made, I was a very immature, close-minded and insular 20-year-old.

"I have grown and matured a lot in the last six years. I am not the person I was back then.

“I have many friends and colleagues that are part of the LGBTQI+ community. I wholeheartedly support them and care deeply for them.

"I am truly sorry and apologise for any offence or hurt I caused.”

Poh's complicated love life

While what Poh Ling Yeow does privately is no one's business, as long as it isn't hurting anyone, it certainly captivated family-friendly MasterChef viewers when they discovered that, after Poh and her first husband Matt broke up in 1999, he later married her best friend, Sarah.

“Everyone tries to complicate it for us,” Poh told Mamamia.

“From the outside in, they’re all like ‘love triangle’!

"And I’m like, ‘no!’ He’s like my brother now and I think … people are never interested in the backstory. They want everything to be sordid."

When Poh married MasterChef production assistant Jono Bennett in 2014, the couple went into business with her ex-husband and Sarah.

Poh Ling Yeow in a white midi dress and Jono Bennett in a dark suit arrive ahead of the 6th AACTA Awards Presented by Foxtel at The Star on December 7, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.
Poh Ling Yeow with her second husband Jono Bennett. Photo: Getty Images

While her marriage to Jono has also broken up, they remain friends.

"It's been the most un-traumatic break-up possible," Poh revealed.

Hardly scandalous, but fascinating to fans nonetheless.

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