'Pushing ahead': Star says MasterChef is still filming amid coronavirus

A contestant on MasterChef Australia’s upcoming season has revealed that filming is still very much underway despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the associated social distancing measures.

Poh Ling Yeow, who was runner-up on the cooking show’s debut season, is one of 24 former contestants taking part in MasterChef: Back To Win which is scheduled to air mid-April.

Poh told hit105’s Stav, Abby and Matt that not only is the long-running Channel 10 program still in production, but the shoot still has a long way to go.

season one MasterChef Australia contestant Poh Ling Yeow pictured wearing an apron on set
Returning contestant Poh Ling Yeow (pictured in season one) says MasterChef Australia is still filming despite coronavirus. Photo: Channel 10.

“We’re only halfway through filming,” she said last week, prompting a stunned-sounding Abby to ask if production was halted at any point.

“No, no, no. It’s going ahead following all the government regulations for the virus,” Poh responded.

The Poh & Co. star added that this season looks a little bit different’ from previous ones due to the need to space contestants 1.5 metres away from each other as per COVID-19 guidelines.

She said the cast and crew are in a ‘privileged position’ due to the fact that, unlike many other reality TV shows, they don’t film in front of a live audience and so are ‘pushing ahead’.

The show goes on

Poh also explained how the trio of new judges — Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen — have adapted the way they sample the contestants’ dishes

The original judging panel — Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris — was axed last July.

MasterChef’s post-COVID-19 taste-testing involves three separate servings for each of the judges who take it in turns to collect their plate.

“They will actually approach the bench separately so they’re not clustered together then they’ll stand apart holding the plates,” she explained.

The ‘encouraging hugs’ viewers have witnessed in seasons past have been replaced by elbow bumps, she added.

MasterChef judges Andy Allen, Jock Zonfrillo and Melissa Leong with special guest Katy Perry
MasterChef judges Andy Allen, Jock Zonfrillo and Melissa Leong with special guest Katy Perry. Photo: Channel 10.

Official statement

Poh’s comments are echoed in an official statement supplied to Yahoo Lifestyle by a spokesperson from the show’s production company, Endemol Shine Australia.

MasterChef Australia has always employed the highest standards of food safety and hygiene, and we now have an even keener focus on that. All recommendations outlined by Federal and State government health authorities are being followed.

“Under the current circumstances, we are introducing new measures for the foreseeable future. These include, but are not limited to social distancing measures across every facet of the production and additional hand sanitising stations positioned around the set and offices.

“On the set, changes will be made to the spacing of contestant cooking benches and gloves provided for team challenges where equipment may be shared, as well as when handling food in the pantry. Additional sinks have been added as dedicated hand washing stations, so as to separate from any food preparation.

“Judges will step up to taste individually portioned meals and no cutlery or plates will be shared”.

MasterChef: Back To Win starts 7.30 Monday, April 13 on Channel 10.

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