The three chefs set to replace MasterChef judges

Poh Ling Yeow pictured left alongside Curtis Stone and Maggie Beer, right
Poh Ling Yeow (left) has been named as one of the new MasterChef judges alongside Curtis Stone (centre) and Maggie Beer (right). Photo: Getty

Mere hours after all three MasterChef judges walked away from the franchise, we may have the names of the celebrity chefs set to replace them.

Viewers saw George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston together for the last time on Tuesday night’s grand finale, which saw 22-year-old Larissa Takchi take out the top prize.

And now it’s being reported that three very big names in Australian cooking will step into their shoes in 2020.

Maggie Beer, Curtis Stone, and former MasterChef star Poh Ling Yeow have been slated to take up the mantle next season, according to Who magazine.

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.”

Maggie Beer

One of the most well-known names in Australian cooking, 74-year-old Maggie Beer is no novice to TV hosting, having previously fronted The Great Australian Bake Off and The Cook and The Chef.

But perhaps she’s best known for her products which include her chutneys, pate, ice cream and chocolate sauce, just to name a few.

Among her other accolades are the fact she was named Senior Australian of The Year in 2010, while her work with the Maggie Beer Foundation has been improving the quality of food in the aged care industry.

Curtis Stone

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone has been making cameo appearances on MasterChef for the past decade, but much of his television career has been spent Stateside staring in Take Home Chef and Top Chef Masters in the US.

He got his first big TV break alongside Ben O'Donoghue on the ABC’s Surfing the Menu, back in 2003, and has even starred on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice in 2010.

Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone
Curtis Stone has been making guest appearances on MasterChef since 2009. Photo: Getty

Poh Ling Yeow

After finishing second to Julie Goodwin in Australia’s very first season of MasterChef, Poh has gone on to build a cooking empire of her own.

The 46-year-old has starred in two of her own shows, Poh’s Kitchen and Poh & Co., and runs a successful cafe alongside her husband Jono, her ex-husband Matt, and long-time best friend Sarah, who is now married to Matt.

Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle recently about the challenges of mixing work and personal life, she said, “[Running the business] is really hard actually, one because it’s a business and also because we all know each other and are linked by our relationships and creative pursuits.”

“Communication is the main thing that I’ve learned from working in that dynamic and there has to be a lot of clear communication and a lot of honesty and that’s the only way you can cut through the busyness,” she says.

“But because we’re such good friends [owning Adelaide cafe Jamface] has enabled us to really work together and we’re so much stronger for it.”

Final words

Meanwhile, George, Gary and Matt all took to social media as the finale was airing 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.”

MasterChef judges George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston pictured on Instagram
George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston all took to social media on Tuesday night to explain their mass exit. Photo: Instagram/Gary Mehigan

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.

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