'Feels weird': Fans divided over new Masterchef judges

Masterchef Australia kicked off its 2020 season last night, and as the world is forced inside, all eyes were on the popular show’s new-look lineup.

Following last year’s bombshell announcement that veteran judging trio Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston would step back from the series, fans were concerned the brand new trio of judges couldn’t live up to hype of the globally popular series.

Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen pose in 2020 Masterchef judging promo shot
New Masterchef judges Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen have divided fans. Photo: Ten

Now the reaction are in on newcomers Andy Allen, Melissa Leong, and Jock Zonfrillo and it seems fans are divided over the new judges’ ability to carry the show’s twelfth season forward, though the needle is creeping toward surprising approval.

‘Already forgotten the old judges’

Many fans were pleasantly surprised at the relatively unknown judges’ first appearance, some even labelling them ‘the perfect fit’.

Others, however, remained unconvinced dubbing the new trio the ‘boring’, and lacklustre.

Shock announcement after exodus

Channel 10 confirmed new judges Jock, Melissa and Andy for the 2020 season last year, a somewhat shocking announcement after some big-name contenders previously voicing interest in the high profile gig.

Favourites included the likes of Nigella Lawson, Curtis Stone and Poh Ling Yeow, who told Yahoo Lifestyle at the time she’d be ‘thrilled’ to take on the job but has since returned to the show as a contestant.

MasterChef Australia judges George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan
MasterChef Australia judges George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan walked. Photo: Instagram/Network Ten

The new line-up was announced after the original judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris left the show in July last year.

The shock announcement came 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.

It’s understood that the judges decided to leave after failing to secure pay rises from the network, and that their exit is not related to George’s recent case.

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.