24 July 2019
Los Angeles: After 11 successful seasons, "MasterChef Australia" judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris will not be returning in the next season of the reality TV cookery show.
The news of their exit from the show was shared on the official Twitter handle of "MasterChef Australia".
"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 #MasterChef" legacy and helping make the culinary dreams of everyday home cooks come true," the post read.
The news comes amid calls to drop Calombaris after he came under fire for underpaying $7.8 million to his staff at his hospitality firm, Made Establishment. He was even dropped from an Australian tourism campaign.
There are reports indicating that the trio chose to walk away from the program after Network 10 refused to give them a significant pay raise. However, the judges denied the speculations.
"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. (This is) 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," Mehigan wrote on Instagram.
Calombaris also took to Instagram to share his thoughts. "We were close to signing a new contract for season 12. However, the dates just didn't align. Channel Ten, thank you for providing us the platform to change the landscape of food worldwide. To the next 3 judges and mentors, we wish you loads of success. To my brothers, I love you and thank you. Time to take a deep breath and be thankful," he wrote.
"Thank you so very much for supporting the show for over the last 11 years. We have loved every single moment," Preston tweeted.