All three MasterChef judges called it quits this week, but if there’s one who’s made the most controversial headlines, it would be George Calombaris.
It seems business has been slower for the 40-year-old celebrity chef this week, who was earlier found to have underpaid staff by more than $7.83 million across his restaurant empire.
Images taken recently at his various eateries, including Jimmy Grants in Sydney, and Melbourne restaurants Hellenic Republic, Gazi and Elektra, showed a small number of diners sitting in during the day.
Earlier this month, George was fined $200,000 after underpaying hundreds of his workers $7.83 million.
The $200,000 fine is described as a “contrition payment”, after the Masterchef judge was found to have underpaid 515 current and former employees.
He’s also forced to become an ambassador for the Fair Work Commission, and must pay for audits in all his Australian restaurants.
Meanwhile earlier this week, it was announced that George, along with fellow TV judges Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston, would be leaving MasterChef Australia after 11 years with the franchise.
Network Ten’s chief executive officer Paul Anderson, said in a statement, “Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George.”
“Australia is full of remarkable cooking talent and we can’t wait to introduce another group – and the next generation of exceptional judges – in season 12 of MasterChef Australia next year.”
It’s understood the decision is separate to embattled judge George’s recent underpayment saga, and according to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, the trio were after a 40 per cent pay increase.