'Who's that guy?': Masterchef star unrecognisable after 35kg transformation

·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·3-min read

A returning Masterchef star has revealed many fans did not recognise him from his first appearance on the show after his staggering 35kg weight loss.

Dessert specialist Reece Hignell is one of the beloved former contestants to have returned for the 2020 All Star’s season of the wildly popular cooking show, and these days he cuts a very different figure to the chef who won hearts back in 2018.

Masterchef contestant Reece Hignell in 2018(left) and returning for 2020 All Star's (right)
Masterchef contestant Reece Hignell has returned to the show showing off a remarkable 35 kg weight loss. Photo: Ten

The owner of cake shop CakeBoi revealed to The Daily Telegraph that his previous time on the show left him battling an unhealthy diet and poor fitness, saying he prioritised the competition over his health.

“The show was so stressful I didn’t see my health as a priority, I was more focused on the show rather than my health,” he said.

Since his silver screen debut, the Newcastle local has put health and fitness front and centre, with a plant-based diet, and stringent workout schedule keeping him fit and happy.

Reece Hignell poses at f45
Reece Hignell credits exercise and diet with his dramatic new look. Photo: Getty Images

He says when he walked back on to the set, many didn’t recognise him, something that should have felt satisfying, but still stung a little.

“I lost quite a bit of weight which was great, but to be honest it was so annoying when I first came back because people were like, ‘who’s that guy?’” he revealed.

A cake specialist by trade, Reece made it to the top six of the show’s tenth season in 2018, and has returned in a bid to claim the crown once and for all.

Masterchef 2018 Reece Hignell poses in channel 10 promo shot
Reece won fans over in 2018 when he made it to the show's top six. Photo: Ten

The show kicked off what promises to be a blockbuster season last week, after an overhaul of the judging panel left many fans uncertain of the series future.

They didn't, however, reveal the judges' pay, however, it's believed their salaries were ‘outweighed’ by the combined salaries of the returning contestants.

This year's judges are Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, who came in to replace Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan.

Water under the bridge for old Masterchef judges

Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston pose for Masterchef promo shot before shock exit
Former MasterChef judges Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston reportedly left the show following a salary dispute. Photo: Ten

The trio left the show after over a decade reportedly following a salary dispute, though it seems no bad blood remains.

George recently surprised fans after taking to Instagram to commend Channel Ten and Endemol Shine on the new season.

He wrote, "OMG. Massive result last night on MC12 launch night. Congrats to @channel10au @endemolshineau, all the awesome crew, the contestants and the new judges. Well done! GC xxxx."

Hayden Quinn, who appeared in season three of the show originally, wrote, "What a night mate! Haha I needed a hug! Thanks for all the support."

Khanh Ong from season 10 added, "Love you to pieces."

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone also commented, "George [you're] an absolute gentleman."

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