The Mystery Box Has Been Lifted On 2020’s New MasterChef Judges
Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen may be faces you recognise -- and they’ll be joined by an entire cast of returning contestants!
Yep, you heard that right, the judges are the only fresh faces heading into ‘MasterChef - Back To Win’, a season which will see contestants from all past 11 seasons of ‘MasterChef Australia’ back in the kitchen battling it out for the top prize.
Watching their every move will be Andy, Jock and Melissa, who will be joined by a few more familiar faces -- guests like Heston Blumenthal, Curtis Stone and Gordon Ramsay.
Much like our contestants, Andy is no stranger to the ‘MasterChef’ kitchen, taking home the title of ‘MasterChef’ champion in the fourth season of the series.
“I’ve been there and I know it’s very stressful and people get wrapped up in,” Andy exclusively told 10 daily. “I feel like I was successful in the show because I didn’t take it too seriously.
“I always wanted to do the best that I could, but that was a personal challenge for me. So I want to get people to cook their best food, and for that you need to be relaxed.”
During his time on the series, Andy met Darren Robertson and Mark LaBrooy and in 2013 took a job at their Three Blue Ducks pop-up before officially joining the team in 2016, becoming a co-owner and head chef of Three Blue Ducks Rosebery.
In 2012, Andy was officially the youngest winner of ‘MasterChef’ (at the time), and since then earned another record for himself when the restaurant was awarded a Chef’s Hat, making him the very first ‘MasterChef’ alumni to score the honour.
Andy has returned to the ‘MasterChef’ kitchen a few times, most recently going head-to-head with Sandeep Pandit during an immunity pin cook-off.
“The best piece of advice I received was to take every opportunity as a learning opportunity,” Andy said. “Whether it was cooking at home or when the judges were giving us feedback, whether it would just be me analysing my performance after a cook -- I took every opportunity as a learning opportunity and I try to still do that to this day.”
Joining Andy is Melissa Leong, the food and travel writer, cookbook editor, radio broadcaster, TV presenter and host/judge of the SBS series ‘The Chef’s Line’. Melissa has also appeared on shows like Justine Schofield’s Everyday Gourmet and Matt Sinclair’s ‘The Cook’s Pantry’ and has worked alongside some of the Australian food industry’s biggest names.
“Who could have anticipated that [‘MasterChef’] would change the way Australians converse about food, the way we cook and dine out,” Melissa exclusively said to 10 daily, “I grew up in an era in Australia where sport was king, and because of shows like this, the dialogue has changed.
“That’s no mean feat!”
When asked what she was excited to bring to the ‘MasterChef’ table, Melissa said:
“In a word: diversity. I am proud to be an Australian woman of colour in this position and at this time in the world. With that, comes a difference of perspective from voices and backgrounds we’ve never met before.”
Melissa added that she was “so excited to be given the opportunity to contribute to the conversation when it comes to food, but also to stand among other strong women with ideas and opinions that are hard fought and won.” Returning to the kitchen and stepping into the judging role is former guest chef Jock Zonfrillo.
Obviously no stranger to the kitchen, the owner and chef of the three-hatted Orana as well as Bistro Blackwood, Scottish-born Jock has appeared across a handful of TV shows including appearing in three seasons of MasterChef’.
Part of Jock’s mission has been to bring native Australian ingredients to the forefront of cooking, compiling the first database of native foods as well as supporting Indigenous communities.
“While ‘MasterChef Australia’ discovers some of the next generation of cooks, it brings together the very best of Australia’s incredible ingredients and the inspiring people who grow, produce and harvest them," he told 10 daily.
“Quality never gets old and this season we are dialling in on that like never before, and together with Melissa and Andy it really is like we are about to set off on an adventure!”
When it comes to bringing back fan favourites for their second course (get it?), Melissa said, “It says it all, right? This is the 'who’s who of ‘MasterChef Australia’s favourites from seasons past.
“This season they have an opportunity to show everyone what they’ve been up to and where they are at in their food evolution. They know how this game works, so they should be prepared to waste no time in showing us what they’ve got.”
“It’s about pushing these guys to a place they’ve never been before,” Andy added, “and I can’t wait to help guide them to find a new path when they’re outside in the industry.”
“Having watched this group create their own restaurants, their own businesses and become great chefs in their own right has been amazing,” Jock said in a statement.
“But now to see them back, putting their knowledge against each other in the ‘MasterChef’ kitchen, sets the stage for the most exciting season yet.”
Jock, Andy and Melissa will kick off filming ‘MasterChef Australia - Back To Win’ in early 2020. We can’t wait to see who’ll be returning to the kitchen, so stay tuned for more updates!
Image: Network 10