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Come next season, the magic of Masterchef Australia might just dim a little. Broadcaster Network Ten announced ahead of the season 11 grand finale on July 23, 2019 that the iconic trio of Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris will be retiring from the show. The reason? Network Ten couldn’t meet the judges’ demand for a 40 per cent raise on their million-dollar salaries.
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
The exit has no official connection to the financial revelations about George Calombaris from last week; it was recently discovered that his company, Made Entertainment, had underpaid staff by almost 8 million Australian dollars (approx. 38 crores). The irony in all three judges leaving over a pay dispute is not lost on fans.
Social media shows mixed reactions about the trio’s exit. Many support the move, wanting the show to start anew with younger faces on the panel, while others are already wistful about the quality of season 12. Australians seem to overwhelmingly support Calombaris’ exit. The country’s Fair Work Ombudsman has fined Made Establishment a hefty 200,000 AUD while the West Australian government has cancelled their tourism campaign with the chef.
Masterchef was one of Australia’s highest-rated shows, usually regarded as superior to its US and Indian counterparts in terms of fresh produce, guest judges and an unflinchingly wholesome attitude towards reality shows. It’s also one of the few Australian shows with a strong fandom in the Indian subcontinent. Ideas are already afloat online as to who should be on the judging panel of season 12 in 2020. Season 2 winner Adam Liaw, celebrity chef Kylie Kwong and cheerful guest judge Maggie Beer seem to be fan favourites.
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