Entire 'Masterchef' Judging Panel To Leave The Show
George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan will depart Network 10 after contractual negotiations broke down.
The entire 'Masterchef' judging panel is set to leave, with Tuesday's finale to be their last appearance. A whole new set of judges will be named for the show, which will continue next season.
Network 10 said the decision had been reached after contractual negotiations with the trio proved unsuccessful.
“Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George," said Network 10 chief executive officer Paul Anderson.
“Across 11 sensational seasons, MasterChef Australia has established itself as one of the most popular and respected cooking television series around the world. 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," he said.
“We would like to thank Gary, George and Matt for their contribution over the past 11 years."
“MasterChef Australia has always been about ordinary Australians doing extraordinary things for the love of food and we believe it is very important to continue that ethos," Anderson continued.
“Australia is full of remarkable cooking talent and we can’t wait to introduce another group – and the next generation of exceptional judges – in season 12 of MasterChef Australia next year.”
The news comes just days after Calombaris was found to have underpaid staff at his restaurants by nearly $8 million. The Fair Work Ombudsman fined the chef and his Made Establishment company $200,000.
Calombaris was ordered to implement new payroll and compliance systems across his stable of restaurants including Hellenic Republic, Gazi and Jimmy Grants.
"We apologise to all our affected team members, past and present - as it is our people that make our restaurants great, and it is our priority to ensure all of our employees feel respected, rewarded and supported in their roles," Calombaris said.
"We are committed to acting as a force for change in the industry and leading by example when it comes to building and promoting supportive, healthy and compliant hospitality workplaces."
An online petition calling for Calombaris to be removed from his position on Masterchef had attracted nearly 25,000 signatures.
The finale of this season's 'Masterchef' is due to air on Tuesday night.