Network Ten has denied claims they are set to begin their search for Jock Zonfrillo's replacement on MasterChef Australia following the celebrity chef's shock death on May 1, mere hours before the season 15 premiere.
Daily Mail claimed on Thursday that the "sombre process" of looking for Jock's replacement has already begun, and "every well-known chef" is a contender for the position.
However, Ten has confirmed to Yahoo Lifestyle that this is not true, "Casting for the next season of MasterChef Australia has not commenced. To suggest otherwise is completely false and misleading."
Daily Mail reports that the 2024 season of the show is already in pre-production and set to begin filming in August, after the spin-off Dessert Masters wraps.
The publication adds that both well-known personalities and unknowns are being considered for the role, however, whoever it is will need to have good chemistry and relationships with current judges Andy Allen and Melissa Leong.
"That will be the main thing obviously because it was something that really earned Jock the position originally," a source revealed.
"You have to remember that when Jock was cast he was a dark horse... he was a renegade in the industry and he wasn't what many expected in that role. But his chemistry with the others was great. And the new host will need that more than anything."
Some of the chefs Daily Mail claim to be in the running for the position include former MasterChef contestants Poh Ling Yeow, Dan Churchill and Hayden Quinn, as well as Hugh Allen, Josh Niland, Danielle Alvarez, Joel Bickford, Alessandro Pavoni and Jordan Toft.
Jock, Melissa and Andy joined MasterChef in 2019, replacing former judges Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan.
The season 15 premiere of the cooking competition was pushed back from May 1 to May 7 with the blessing of Jock's family.
According to The Australian, the show’s production company Endemol Shine has been working tirelessly to review every single episode and remove anything that could potentially draw attention to Jock’s passing.
However, the changes reportedly “won’t be too heavy-handed” and will “try to remain true” to his personality.
“There are two schools of thought,” one source told the publication. “If there is too much of an edit, it can take away from what he was as well. For example, if he tries a dish and says, ‘That one’s a killer’, well, that’s him.”
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