Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris will not return as judges in the next season of ‘MasterChef Australia’.
Network 10, the broadcaster which has screened the popular cooking show for eleven years, has confirmed that the three chefs and restaurateurs will not be returning to the show.
“Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George. Across 11 sensational seasons, ‘MasterChef Australia’ has established itself as one of the most popular and respected cooking television series around the world," Network 10 chief executive officer Paul Anderson said in a statement.
"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. We would like to thank Gary, George and Matt for their contribution over the past 11 years."
This comes after the George Calombaris scandal broke last week, where it was revealed that he had underpaid his staff by AUD7.83-million (about R77-million).
The celebrity chef has been slapped with a AUD200 000 fine after admitting to underpaying his 515 staff at his restaurants: Press Club and Gazi in Melbourne and Hellenic Republic restaurants in Kew, Williamstown and Brunswick.
He has struck a deal with Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman where he will pay the aforementioned fee (R1.9-million) and will also be making a series of public statements that promote compliance with the Fair Work Act.
Fans of the show have been lobbying for Calombaris to be removed from the judging panel of the hit show, however the broadcaster decided to not renew the contracts for all three judges.
There was even a petition online done by a former Calombaris staff member, to get him removed from the show.
Fans of the show reacted swiftly on social media.