George, Gary and Matt goneski – MasterChef Australia

We all thought George Calombaris would get the flick but now all three MasterChef Australia judges will not be returning next year.

George’s refusal to wear socks to the finale was the final nail in the coffin.

On the eve of the MasterChef grand final episode, Channel 10 says it could not come to a “commercial agreement” with George, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston.
This is the biggest scandal to hit the show since John went rogue and cooked white chocolate veloute.
After 11 years with the trio at the helm, this could be the refresh the show needs.
I’m sorry to see Matt go but I am hoping for some female faces on the judging panel next year because, well, women work in the food industry, too.
Full story here.

And from the MC official Twitter account:



  1. The damage control Ch 10 boffin on the news said “This is not about George Calombaris”.

    Is that fake news? I sense that he’s the secret ingredient in this culinary clean out.

    • It was fun reading. People are obviously passionate that the Stooges’ Ma$terchef journey/ junket is so unexpectedly over. I mean, crime doesn’t pay. George has been hit by the karma croquembouche and taken those other two with him.

      I feel for Matt Preston, not a creep. He’s the only keeper. He’s gotta eat, after all. I’ll miss those purple suits.

      I’m watching George now on that pitiful Grant Denyer show. Happy times.

      • It’s such an old cliche though, isn’t it? A rich guy gets richer while standing on the poorer people underneath him, all the while lecturing them, “How dare you want more than the tiny amount I’m letting you have?”

        I hope they nail the bastard to the wall for this.

    • I’m not on Twitter so couldn’t see many of the tweets, unfortunately. I can see a bit of Facebook, where there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, lamenting the loss of the three, and many suggesting the show may as well be cancelled without Gary, George and Matt. Um, it’s a tv show, not your first born leaving home forever. Few will even be thinking about it by…Friday.

      • If you double click the # Masterchef AU link in Juz’s second photo , you should be able to read the same tweets Windsong and myself saw. Not on Twitter, either, Von..

        • Thanks, Dave! That gave me much more entertaining tweets than the sanitised ones I accessed, until it degenerated into the “you suck” “no, you suck” miasma. I’m not very patient when I can’t see what I want, so I get pissed off and give up. Duh. Now I know.

  2. woo hoo – about time too…. because Ch10 wouldn’t do that for ratings or anything, or would they?

  3. Hmm, I liked Matt. He can come back.^^ But yes, the show needs fresh blood and judges who might be less biased, especially the Gs. They are grumpy and creepy.
    Maybe they hire Nigella? So that is eye candy and female sorted. Plus people like her and she has international appeal.
    Please no Curtis Stone though. 😉

    • Curtis has other fish to fry – I would be surprised if it was him.
      I think his contractual obligation as the Food Voice of Coles requires him to front a couple of episodes and then he is happy to bugger off!

  4. So Ch 10 finally caved. George couldn’t be saved.
    All this rubbish about salary negotiations is rubbish (as if they would do it on the day of the finale) is fake news and pure spin.

    I recall the three of them saying more than once, one for all and all for one. That if anyone left, they all would – a package deal, it seems.
    It doesn’t matter that George has stuffed them up – they’ve made a motza out of this show.

    And I bet that George has even convinced himself that it was all an innocent mistake. All that hubris, now contrition. I wonder if Timbo is crying for him now?

  5. I can see Matt hosting some other food show down the track. He has a lot of food knowledge and a good turn of phrase.

      • GGM…..I wonder when one of them will decide to remove themselves from the package permanently. They have each done things individually. Matt is the best of the three.

  6. What? What, what? I did not see that coming.
    I am one of many, but I acknowledge in the minority, that is not dumping on George for the salary under payments. People in the industry say that it can happen so easily: 12 awards, incredibly complicated penalty payment system, daily changes to rosters …. and they go on. And everyone forgets that he self reported. I’ve tried to keep track of hourly stuff – it is so hard and so easy to stuff up.
    However, George was so, like really, so, so very annoying to watch. And I didn’t love Gary much.
    I’m happy for a new set of judges, and hope for diversity. Masterchef has always been about the contestants so I am hopeful.
    And PS, I believe them when they say it was not about the “scandal”. When no one else is getting a a pay rise, asking for 40% is a bit rich 😜 … and I don’t doubt that they asked for some other conditions that may have been a bit much. I would have. There’s more to contract negotiations than money.

  7. I heard they each want $1.5 million but was offered $1.2 million. They said no. Another thing to take into account is if there is public pressure to dump George and they dont, the public will then put pressure on the sponsors. No sponsors no show

      • Really. That’s interesting (I feel like I need to put an exclamation mark somewhere).
        And, if true, that would explain a lot.

  8. That second picture looks as though it was taken right after the announcement of the judges’ leaving. Matt looks decidedly unimpressed and Gary and George are grimacing rather than smiling.

    I have no sympathy for George, but I will miss Matt. And I’ll miss Gary in some ways as well, although not the sleaziness around young women.

    Twitter people and others who are putting Maggie Beer forward as a new judge, please think again. How many times do you want to hear “nut brown butter'”, and see verjuice touted as the be all and end all of ingredients.

    • No. Just absolutely no to Maggie Beer.
      To be honest, I really can’t think of any of the current batch that wouldn’t be really equally annoying.
      Is it possible that there are some unknown newbies?

    • oh God I couldn’t face Maggie Beer. I realise I am in the minority but I find her creepy. And it’s not just the verjuice obsession (although, that’s all about HER business and props for getting this by-product of failed crop to a commercial state).

      She has a mask of amiability but I see her as stone cold calculating.

      I did like her on the Cook and the Chef – but her later tv incarnations were super annoying and her Masterchef moments sooo nauseauting I could barely watch.

      • I’m with you on Maggie Beer. My sister lives and works in Tanunda and your views of her being cold and calculating behind that facade of affability is spot on. She never loses an opportunity to push her brand or her daughter’s brand and you cross her at your peril. And she’s already been sprung being economical with the truth about her produce range. She reminds me a bit of the Queen Mother – all smiles and relentless charm disguising an iron will, snobbery and an ability to keep a grudge for life.

      • I do not know if anyone ever watched Futurama, but there is a character called Mom and she disguises her as this old fashioned nice looking mother/gran. But it is a fatsuit and she gets out of it and then turns into a real bitch. Evil business woman etc. That is Maggie Beer to me.

  9. My final thought on this badly-timed debacle of sacking all the judges – it’s kind of an ugly footnote to what has been a mostly enjoyable show.

    • Yes, much as we whinge about the endless pork belly and ice cream, it’s still the best reality cooking show on Australian TV and 100 times better than MKR

      • Agree – however unenthused I was by the end, I was still watching. We gave up MKR two seasons ago and don’t miss it in the slightest.
        The things that I disliked about the show were related to the judges (although I mainly excepted Matt from this) and their bias and formulaic contestant responses to their perceptions of what was needed.
        If you have unknown judges, you may not be on a safe thing with pork crackling. Another judge may value interesting ideas instead of safely putting up a variation of fish & butter sauce every challenge. Different judges may give producers the opportunity to jettison some of the ailments we have whinged about – maybe more blind tastings, less opportunity to favour one contestant.
        Overall I see it as positive – Gary started off less tired and bitter but seemed to get there got quickly during the show and be plain nasty – I think new judges may invigorate it.

    • Do you think it was badly-timed? I thought it was timed exactly to increase ratings for the finale. It put the show in the news cycle immediately, and many would watch just in case it was the last ever.

  10. Obviously they didn’t meet the diversity brief. Now the search is on for people who cover as many possibilities as possible – doesn’t matter if they know anything about cooking.

    That said, it was time for a change from the Gs, but it is a pity to lose Matt as well.

  11. From the Daily Telegraph

    A week after being fined for underpaying his restaurant staff almost $8 million, George Calombaris and his fellow judges have negotiated themselves out of Master Chef — reportedly after demanding a 40 per cent pay rise and a slice of inter­national profits.

    Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan are now believed to be eyeing a multimillion-dollar deal with Netflix or Amazon Prime.

    It comes after the trio formed their own production company, GGM Pty Ltd, to sell themselves to Ten as a package deal.

    It had made contract talks “difficult,” Ten’s chief executive Paul Anderson said, denying the network had sought to dump Calombaris after the wages scandal.

    The three judges are understood to have wanted more time off to pursue other projects, while almost doubling their TV earnings estimated currently about $400,000 to $600,000 per judge each season.

    Mehigan on Tuesday night said the contract dispute “was never about the money and never will be about the money” but rather having “more free time to explore our own creativity”.

    “The opportunity to work with Matt and George has been a blessing and something I cherish,” he said.

    “Working together will continue to be the most important­ thing for us … the three musketeers.”

    Calombaris added “the dates just didn’t align” for a new deal, while Preston said he was leaving “with a heavy heart” because “we were really keen to continue but we were unable to agree to all terms for the new contract”.

    • So, more money for less work? On a show where ratings are declining (on par with general ratings trend). Seems that they could only demand this by having a back up plan.

    • I understand the cynicism on more money for less work and, on the surface, would agree.
      But … and you saw that coming …. MC is Channel 10’s biggest money earner, and the judges are a big part of that.
      When you go in to ask for a pay rise you don’t argue on the basis of effort but productivity.
      When you couple that with BDD’s point on Manu and Pete (two very ordinary cooks on a very ordinary show) the judges have a point.
      I hope it doesn’t happen, because I love MC, but I think that Channel 10 have just killed the golden goose (Insert comparisons with Great British Bake Off … here).
      Fingers crossed that a really careful selection of new judges will fix this.

  12. I will miss Matt and his crazy suits and cravats, but also his great comments and food knowledge. I won’t miss seeing George eat and I won’t miss Gary, who I feel has been phoning in his performance these last couple of years.

    I wonder if Coles will push for having Curtis Stone. They are a big sponsor and he is their brand face, so it makes commercial sense. He may be too busy with his US stuff, but who knows. I’d like to see someone like Alla Wolf-Tasker because she knows her stuff, is immune to flattery and bullshit and is well respected in the food industry. A huge “NO” to Maggie Beer – I can’t stand her fake air kissing crap (my sister lives in the Barossa and says that Maggie is not at all as she appears on screen) and she is someone who is always pushing her line of goods. We’ll have freaking verjuice and pheasant in everything! And her range of olive oils will compete with Cobrams 🙂

    The format needs a bit of a revamp after eleven years and new judges might give it a boost. Anyway, given that the ratings have been mediocre this season, the stooges were in no position to start making extravagant wage demands. Though it’s ironic that George got the flick over a wage dispute. Talk about karma.

  13. Despite all the protestations about money and working conditions, I believe that the producers had realised that they couldn’t take George any further without huge backlash, and the other two (being joined at the hip with him) refused to go on without him. Having an offer from pay tv gave them a back up, and like the Top Gear guys, they will go on to make another show there which is watched by the small audience, and fade into history.

    I wouldn’t mind Shannon Bennet there, but I suspect he has been used too much already. I think their best chance is three complete unknowns who can create their own images. One would have to be flamboyant, in true competition show tradition.

    • Shannon reminds me of a very small rabbit.
      We need big hulking people who look like they eat.
      Whose that lovely chubby chef they bring on occasionally?

  14. Yeah I remember reading years ago if one went they all went. Apparently it wasn’t ch 10 but the big wigs at CBS that refused their pay rise. Just hope it isn’t the start of a revolving door of judges every couple of years. Everyone forgets these 3 were unknown when they started. They don’t HAVE to get someone well known to replace them.

  15. Why is no one highlighting the biggest ever positive of this news?
    We will NEVER have to watch George eat again!
    No more licking the knife.
    No more chewing with his mouth open.
    No more inability to hold a fork correctly.
    We don’t have to hear his crimes against the English language either – many many bonuses!
    It’s ALL GOOD!

  16. I was listening to an interesting discussion with Max Markson on ABC. Remembering he is PR but still in the know, his view is that Channel 10 should go all out for one major judge and then two unimportant minor ones. He suggested Nigella (She apparently likes Australia), Jamie Oliver or Heston Blumenthal.
    Interestingly, he said that there was room for MC to continue and The Three Amigos to have an alternative show – on Netflix maybe. Cooking shows are big money at the moment.
    He did say that both parties had shot themselves in their respective foots.
    And in his view it had nothing to do with George’s woes. George just had a bad accountant.
    This was substantially supported by most txt and ring ins. Not that he had a bad accountant but that they didn’t care about the scandal.
    My overall take-out was that I seem to be in a bit of a bubble.

    • Yeah, I really can’t help the thought that all this really is just a case of terrible timing. George’s wages issues has been bubbling away for quite some time … it’s only an awful coincidence that it’s front page news at the same time as the three judges were trying to negotiate a new pay deal.

      Having said that? I absolutely refuse to believe that, somewhere in channel 10, someone wasn’t secretly thrilled to get rid of the guy, who brought all this negative publicity and dumped it on their door-step.

    • Wouldn’t mind Jamie Oliver but he is the ambassador for Woolworths. Unless Woolworths is willing to outbid Coles as the main sponsor.

      When Gordon Ramsay was on the show, he was great.

      Last 2 seasons Heston was very average.

      • Agree LP – I used to hate Gordon Ramsay for the totally over the top language and bullying, but I must say he was terrific on masterchef and I would be totally open to him as a judge.
        Heston was just phoning it in recently, so I don’t want him either.
        I thought Curtis was very strong but would be surprised there was enough in it for him. He mainly lives in US so not sure he’d want to come back here for a big chunk of the year.

  17. I am calling it, that Julie Goodwin will be one of the judges. I have seen her on nearly every show this week.

      • If forty five minutes isn’t long enough, you just shout and swear at the stove. You can be drunk in the Ma$terchef Kitchin and then drive home.

    • Much as I enjoy Julie (loved her on I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of here) I don’t think having a former contestant is a very good idea. One of the things that George and Gary had was credibility as actual chefs. Putting on chef whites has to mean something – and when they did it and ran a pass or conducted masterclass it was worth watching for their skills.

      I didn’t like the way they tried to get Matt in on the act on masterclass in his slaughterhouse apron to cook stuff. Earlier when he was just a critic who had a good palate, he was allowed to be a spectator. Recent seasons he was showing the contestants how to cook – that strained credibility for me. I didn’t like him telling contestants how to make stuff like self-saucing pudding or a salad. Leave him as a critic and don’t expect him to be a chef.

      So, much as I love Adam Liaw, enjoy his shows on SBS, think he’s a great and witty commentator and an all round lovely human – the same applies to him. To me, I would like judges from the industry – if they have a food critic that’s FINE with me, but don’t have them cook too!

      End of rant. . .

      • I agree, BS, that some of the judges should be real chefs, people who have actually done their apprenticeships and have cooking experience and knowledge, after having done the hard work and shitty hours. Otherwise, it’s just amateurs playing at judging other amateurs.

  18. Is Matt Moran still contracted to Nine? Surely FFF will not return and he used to appear on MC. Or would his Bake Off duties exclude him?


    We don’t believe swapping out the judges will arrest the terminal decline of Masterchef. Much of the decline can be attributed to the casting of one dimensional cookie cutter contestants where the ability to cry on cue was far more important than the ability to cook.

    The other aspect of Masterchef that disappeared was its participatory element. A recipe would be featured and then Coles would provide the recipe card so you could cook it at home. (Even our local Woolworths was getting in on the act). The last couple of years, people would frequently comment that nothing had captivated their interest. Perhaps more importantly from a Coles sponsorship perspective -people couldn’t relate the ingredients been used as been from Coles…

    If we were in charge (the inner megalomaniac) , we would have rested MC for a year or so, let GGM do a couple of other projects and in the interim reset MC and ensure that there were blind auditions and no contestant could cruise through by cooking variations on the one dish.

    MC is going to suffer the same ignominious fate as Top Gear.

    As to George and his wages problem…it is appears to be a widespread industry issue. A number of chefs that have appeared on MC have been embroiled in their own payroll problems. If it can be determined that the numerous industry awards are creating confusion, rather than pretend it is isolated incident, perhaps FairWork Australia could consider reviewing them.

    We could see the push to cast Curtis Stone. It would allow Channel Ten’s parent company CBS to promote the show in the US. No doubt with his various commitments, the season would be truncated to accommodate them.

    • Yes – I was only saying the other day that it has been a VERY long time since I checked recipes on the masterchef and was interested in trying to make them.
      Early masterchef had lots to like and I used to frequently give stuff a go. I can remember some very tricky cooks and some surprisingly easy ones too – but I was motivated to give it a try.

      Now? Zero interest in some weird ice cream or a pork belly.

      • It is not only the ingredients but the equipment that no normal family cook would have. Sous vide machines, icecream churns (instant ones), blast chillers, even thermomixes are rare. And most recipes could not be adapted around not having the machine.

        I printed off a recipe of Reynolds once but couldn’t make it because of some vital piece of equipment.

    • I heard that the new judges are Curtis, Poh and Maggie Beer and that this was reported in the Adelaide Advertiser yesterday.

      I hope this is not true.

      • I’m with you on this. Desperation makes for poor decisions.
        I was sure I saw an interview with Maggie where she said that she would definitely not. Maybe a huge amount of money made a difference.
        But if this is true, I’m out. I will miss Masterchef. They had a good run.

  20. I watched the Drum last night. They did a segment on general underpayments in Australia (no particular industry).
    It was terrifying and overwhelmingly depressing at the same time.
    I am going to spend some money on cask wine and make the whole subject go away.

  21. I haven’t yet heard a name suggested that appeals to me.

    You know who I would really love, and who would brighten up the room a lot –
    Duff Goldman. No chance of him, though.

    • I saw an interview with Kylie Kwong who rejected the thought of being a judge so emphatically that it raised doubts about anyone with credibility taking up the option.
      She did try to backtrack to try and make it diplomatic but too late.

    • I might buy one. The woman should have phoned the patisserie to complain, before going on Instagram to whinge and name and shame the place.

      The chef should not have responded the way he did.

      Both parties behaved childishly.

    • I feel like complaining, on Instagram, about your truffle croissants and their lack of freshness, is the very definition of a first world problem.

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