Masterchef Australia, the popular cooking show with a fan following around the globe, has announced that judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris will no longer be a part of the program.
The three celebrity chef judges, who have been a part of the show for 11 seasons, decided to drop out of it after Network 10 refused to up their pay by more than 40 per cent. As per reports, each of the three gets more than $1 million for each season.
After 11 sensational seasons, we bid a fond farewell to our judges - Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris. Thank you for being a part of this remarkable #MasterChefAU legacy and helping make the culinary dreams of everyday home cooks come true! pic.twitter.com/uG0A3ec8jI— #MasterChefAU (@masterchefau) July 23, 2019
Reports suggest that this comes shortly after one of the judges, George Calombaris was swept into controversy for underpaying his current and former staff at his restaurants by a whopping AUD $7.8 million.
In relation to the underpayment, George was ordered to pay $200,000 which he would have to pay as "contrition payment”. He is also mandated to make public statements to encourage compliance with the Fair Work Act.
George was also dropped as the face of West Australia Tourism after the controversy. Tourism WA earlier had a contract with him to be the face of content that to "design your own gourmet escape".
However, a network spokeswoman said the judges' departure is unrelated to recent coverage of wage underpayment by restaurant empire MAdE Establishment. The person also added, "George and MAdE Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter. George has the support of Network 10.”
With the finale of the 11th season due to air on Tuesday night, network chief executive Paul Anderson said the parties could not reach a deal "despite months of negotiation".
"Across 11 sensational seasons, MasterChef Australia has established itself as one of the most popular and respected cooking television series around the world," he said.
"For more than a decade, the iconic series has shaped and driven the Australian public's passion for food and cooking, delivered iconic television moments, and made the culinary dreams of everyday home cooks come true.
"We would like to thank Gary, George and Matt for their contribution over the past 11 years."
According to the makers of the show the new panel judges for Masterchef Australia will be announced shortly.
This is what the fans of the show had to say on Social media:
I’ve had about 30 different interview requests in the past half hour about the #MasterChefAU judges leaving, so to save trouble:— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw) July 23, 2019
1. I know nothing about this beyond what’s online; and
2. I am at the pool with my kids so I am unlikely to agree to an interview in my smugglers.
george, matt and gary aren't returning for season 12 of masterchef australia. petition to make me a judge so i can finally put a durian in the mystery box #masterchefau— Amanda Yeo (@amandamyeo) July 23, 2019