Scandal hounds George Calombaris, Masterchef Australia bids farewell to all three celebrity judges
Masterchef Australia, the cooking show and runaway success around the world, has announced a farewell to its celebrity judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris, after their stint of eleven seasons on the show.
In an Instagram post ahead of the season finale, Masterchef Australia said it was bidding a “fond farewell” to the trio.
“For more than a decade, #MasterChefAU has celebrated Australian food and made the culinary dreams of everyday home cooks come true. We thank Matt, George and Gary for being a part of this remarkable MasterChef legacy!” it said.
The move follows a shocking revelation about George Calombaris underpaying the staff members at his restaurants by around AUD $8 million.
However, Network 10, which airs Masterchef Australia, backed George over the controversy as a spokesperson said, “George and MAdE Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter. George has the support of Network 10.”
The controversy first surfaced in 2017 when it was estimated that about 162 workers had been underpaid by $2.6 million due to “historically poor resources”, and a Fair Work Ombudsman in Australia was investigating the issue.
Network 10 CEO Paul Anderson went on record in a press interaction saying that the decision to remove the judges was made as the trio was unable to arrive at a satisfactory commercial agreement.
After 11 sensational seasons, we bid a fond farewell to our judges - Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris. For more than a decade, #MasterChefAU has celebrated Australian food and made the culinary dreams of everyday home cooks come true. We thank Matt, George and Gary for being a part of this remarkable MasterChef legacy!
As a direct result of the controversy, George was almost instantly dropped as the face of West Australia Tourism. Tourism WA earlier signed him on a contract for a "design your own gourmet escape" campaign.
George has, in turn, been ordered to pay $200,000 as “contrition payment”, and he has also been mandated to make public statements to encourage compliance with the Fair Work Act.
Thank you so very much for supporting @masterchefau over the last 11 years. We have loved every single moment. It is however with a heavy heart that I can confirm that season 11 was our last. We were really keen to continue but we were unable to agree to all terms for the new contract. We have enjoyed 11 wonderful years on Masterchef Australia with Network Ten, and I want to take this opportunity to thank Ten for this amazing opportunity and for Network Ten’s backing of this very special show. We have met some beautiful people, discovered and guided some of the brightest up-and-comers in the Australian food scene, worked with the best chefs in the world in front of the camera, and with the TV industry’s finest professionals behind the scenes. And of course, we three judges have formed a lifelong friendship that will live on far beyond the show. I want to take this opportunity to thank you and everyone who has shared our amazing journey with us - especially all those fantastic contestants. I look forward to sharing many more adventures with you in the future. And finally I wish the new judges all the best with the show that we love so much. Thank you all. I don’t want to take any gloss off tonight’s well deserved winner so I will not be making any further comment. Love Matt.
The chef also issued a statement last week, apologising to his team. “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,” says George.
To all of our fans ‘thank you’ To the team that makes MasterChef ‘thank you’ and to all of the contestants that we know and love, we are all part of a very exclusive club and what a journey what an experience. To explain: ‘It was time to move on, have more free time to explore our own creativity’ It was never about the money and never will be about the money. We couldn’t agree on the term of the new contract for 2020 and season 12. Something we felt very strongly about. The opportunity to work with Matt and George has been a blessing and something I cherish. Working together will continue to be the most important thing for us.....the three musketeers....... @mattscravat @gcalombaris @masterchefau #masterchefau #foodies #foodiesofinstagram #homecooks #homecooking #masterchef
Later on Tuesday, Gary, Matt and George all issued statements on their respective social media channels.
While Gary and Matt said they disagreed with Network 10 on all conditions of the new contract for 2020, George said their "dates didn't align."