'Never about the money': Judges break silence on leaving MasterChef

·Features and Health Editor
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 30: Gary Mehigan poses with the Logie Award for Most Popular Reality Show during the 61st Annual TV WEEK Logie Awards at The Star Gold Coast on June 30, 2019 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Gary Mehigan won't be part of MasterChef from next season. Photo: Getty

MasterChef’s outgoing judges George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston have broken their silence about their decision to leave the long running show.

Taking to Instagram on Tuesday evening after the shock announcement was made that all three judges would be leaving the show ahead of its next season, Gary was the first to thank his fans for their support over the last 11 years.

“What a journey what an experience,” he wrote in a post, sharing a photo of the three judges, before going on to provide an explanation.

“It was time to move on, have more free time to explore our own creativity,” he said.

“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.”

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Fellow judge Matt Preston also shared a heartfelt message with fans on Instagram confirming it is “with a heavy heart” he’s leaving the show.

“We were really keen to continue but we were unable to agree to all terms for the new contract,” he wrote.

“I wish the new judges all the best with the show that we love so much.”

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George Calombaris shared the same image as Matt to his own account, wishing the new judges “loads of success” and also thanking his “brothers” Gary and Matt.

“We were close to signing a new contract for season 12 however the dates just didn’t align,” he wrote.

All three judges leaving show

Network 10 made the shock announcement that Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris would be leaving MasterChef Australia within hours of Tuesday night’s Grand Finale.

According to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, the trio were after a 40 per cent pay increase.

“Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George,” Chief executive officer Paul Anderson said in a statement.

The news comes in the wake of George Calombaris being found to have underpaid staff by more than $7.83 million across his restaurant empire, which led to calls from former workers and unions for the star to be dropped from the popular reality show.

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Who will replace the outgoing MasterChef judges?

For many fans, the question now is who will score the three MasterChef judging gigs from next season, and if Twitter has its way, there are a number of obvious options.

Both Maggie Beer and Kylie Kwong, Poh Ling Yeow, and Adam Liaw were all obvious favourites on the social media platform.

“Does this mean we can get Adam Liaw, Poh Ling Yeow and Maggie Beer to be the new judges now?” one person wrote.

“Okay, my MasterChef dream judging panel is Adam Liaw, Poh Ling Yeoh and Maggie Beer. HOW WHOLESOME WOULD THAT BE?” another Twitter user added.

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