Speculation surrounding the new MasterChef judging lineup is at its peak following the announcement Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris won’t be returning to the show in 2020.
Several high-profile chefs have been thought to take their place on the Channel Ten show, but My Kitchen Rules judges Pete Evans, Manu Feildel and Colin Fassnidge definitely won’t be jumping ship from Channel Seven as they’re still contracted to the network next year.
“Pete, Manu and Colin are currently filming the next season of MKR,” a Seven spokesperson told Yahoo Lifestyle on Wednesday.
Viewers saw George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston together for the last time during Tuesday night’s grand finale, which saw 22-year-old Larissa Takchi take out the top prize.
All three have a long history with the show and a strong public following, however a Network Ten spokesperson told Yahoo Lifestyle, the final decision has yet to be confirmed.
“Maggie, Curtis and Poh are loved members of the MasterChef family,” they said. “We are currently casting the judges for 2020 and no decision has been made.”
Meanwhile, George, Gary and Matt all took to social media as the finale was airing last night to explain why they decided to leave the franchise after 11 years.
“What a journey what an experience,” Gary wrote in a post alongside a photo of the three judges. “It was time to move on, have more free time to explore our own creativity.
“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.”
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.
Earlier this week, George was 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.
Got a story tip or just want to get in touch? Email us at email@example.com
Or sign up to our daily newsletter here.