MasterChef launch
MasterChef launch

Big names tipped as new MasterChef judges

CURTIS Stone, Poh Ling Yeow and Maggie Beer are among the talented chefs named by Australians as their picks to take over judging duties on MasterChef.

According to Who magazine, Yeow, Beer and Stone are set to take over for season 12, which will air in 2020. 

 

George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan are leaving MasterChef after more than a decade as the show’s judging panel. Picture: Supplied
George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan are leaving MasterChef after more than a decade as the show’s judging panel. Picture: Supplied

 

Poh, 46, is a former runner up on the first season of the show, who has gone on to have a successful TV and cookbook career.

Beer, 74, is a renowned chef best known for her Pheasant Farm in South Australia's Barossa Valley and line of gourmet food products. Beer and chef Simon Bryant co-hosted four seasons of The Cook and the Chef.

 

Poh Ling Yeow.
Poh Ling Yeow.

 

Stone, 43 found fame hosting Australian cooking programs My Restaurant Rules on Channel 7 and Surfing the Menu on the ABC before moving to the Los Angeles in 2006 where he has been based ever since, eventually opening restaurants Gwen and Maude, the latter of which this year earned a Michelin star.

 

Curtis Stone has a Michelin-starred restaurant in Los Angeles and is a regular guest judge on MasterChef. Picture: Supplied
Curtis Stone has a Michelin-starred restaurant in Los Angeles and is a regular guest judge on MasterChef. Picture: Supplied

When contacted by news.com.au, a Network 10 spokesperson said: "Maggie, Curtis and Poh are loved members of the MasterChef family. We are currently casting the judges for 2020 and no decision has been made."

Meanwhile, Twitter users also suggested top Australian chefs Kylie Kwong and Shannon Bennett as possible contenders, and former MasterChef contestant Justine Schofield, who has gone on to have a successful run of cooking shows and recipe books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten's chief executive Paul Anderson told News Corp Australia on Tuesday the network is looking to sign some big-name MasterChef guest favourites to replace the outgoing trio, such as Stone, Nigella Lawson or Gordon Ramsay.

"There's a long list of people who are keen to be part of the franchise, so we've got all that in our favour," Mr Anderson said.

A Network 10 spokesperson said: "Maggie, Curtis and Poh are loved members of the MasterChef family. We are currently casting the judges for 2020 and no decision has been made."

 

A NEW SHOW FOR OUTGOING JUDGES?

As the question of just who will helm the popular series lingers, Calombaris, Mehigan and Preston look set to shift focus back to their thriving restaurant empires. It is possible, however, the trio won't be away from the small-screen for long; they're suspected to be eyeing a multi-million dollar deal with a platform like Netflix or Amazon Prime.

 

Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris walked away from negotiations with Network Ten after their demand for a 40 per cent increase was denied. Picture: Supplied
Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris walked away from negotiations with Network Ten after their demand for a 40 per cent increase was denied. Picture: Supplied

 

The appeal of a global TV platform and international audience is obvious for Preston, Mehigan and Calombaris, who are household names in Australia but virtual unknowns overseas. However, there's no guarantee the concept would find the success in a streaming service format that it has on prime-time network television.

The popularity of one-time Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May has tanked since they left the BBC in 2015 to start a similar show, The Grand Tour, on Amazon Prime.

At the time of Clarkson and co.'s deal with Amazon, a Netflix executive revealed they'd passed on the trio saying they weren't "worth the money".

"We have past episodes of Top Gear, so we have a pretty good gauge of what audiences like.

"Our buying decisions tend to be somewhat data-driven … clearly it wasn't worth the money to make the deal."

 

THRIVING EMPIRES

Following the news of Calombaris, Mehigan and Preston's exit on Tuesday, Mehigan took to Instagram to insist the decision to leave wasn't about a pay dispute.

"It was never about the money and never will be about the money," he said.

It's true that Mehigan, Preston and Calombaris are far from broke, enabling them to walk away from their MasterChef contact negotiations after Network Ten refused their demands for a 40 per cent pay increase.

All three were on salaries in excess of $1 million as MasterChef judges, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

 

 

Chef George Calombaris at least still has his thriving empire of more than 20 restaurants. He underpaid workers to the tune of $7.8 million and paid just a $200,000 fine. Picture: Supplied
Chef George Calombaris at least still has his thriving empire of more than 20 restaurants. He underpaid workers to the tune of $7.8 million and paid just a $200,000 fine. Picture: Supplied

 

Calombaris' hospitality group MAdE Establishment comprises 20 restaurants across Australia, most of them in Melbourne, including The Press Club, Hellenic Republic, Gazi, Jimmy Grants and Yo-Chi.

A Fair Work investigation last week concluded Calombaris, 40, had underpaid more than 500 staff across his restaurant empire to the tune of more than $7.8 million.

His company, Made Establishment, received just a $200,000 fine.

Meanwhile, Mehigan, 52, is believed to have made millions in 2013 when he sold his Melbourne restaurant Fenix to the Leonda By The Yarra function group after 13 years.

 

Gary Mehigan is believed to have made millions when he sold his Melbourne restaurant Fenix in 2013. He also owns The Boathouse in Moonee Ponds. Picture: Supplied
Gary Mehigan is believed to have made millions when he sold his Melbourne restaurant Fenix in 2013. He also owns The Boathouse in Moonee Ponds. Picture: Supplied

He also owns restaurant The Boathouse in the northwest Melbourne suburb Moonee Ponds, and in addition to MasterChef has starred in several cooking shows: Good Chef, Bad Chef, Boy's Weekend and Far Flung With Gary Mehigan.

Preston, 57, is a celebrated food writer, columnist, critic, presenter and best-selling cookbook author, with titles including Yummy, Easy, Quick and Cravat-A-licious.

 

Maggie Beer.
Maggie Beer.


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