“Everything Has Changed”: Jock Zonfrillo On How Far ‘MasterChef Australia’ Has Come Since Season 1

MasterChef Australia is kicking off with a bang on Monday, April 18, with 12 returning contestants competing alongside 12 home cooks. The talent this year is immeasurable, and with the show’s alums entering the kitchen with a wealth of experience behind them, it’s sure to make for an interesting season. 

From Sashi Cheliah to the one and only Julie Goodwin, get ready to see plenty of familiar faces on your screen from next week. Returning to judge the dishes will be Melissa Leong, Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo, who will be fronting the series for the third year running.

“Fans can expect a better season than ever before. Having 12 ‘Fans’ and 12 ‘Favourites’, there’s this mix of familiarity with old contestants versus these new personalities that you’re about to meet, who are approaching food from a different angle,” Jock told The Latch. “As a judge, I kind of stood there at the top of the room — and I knew Tommy and Minoli from last year — but the rest of them, I just knew them because I watched them on TV! It was lovely to be in the same room as them. I think the audience is going to go, ‘Oh yeah, I remember that cook!'”

As someone who has been watching MasterChef Australia since its inception, I’m looking forward to seeing former contestants get a second chance — and others defend their title. Julie Goodwin, who won the first-ever season of the hit reality show, is possibly the most talked-about participant this year. Crowned champion in 2009, the MasterChef kitchen isn’t what it used to be, so the question is: How will she hold up?

“It’s been a long time since [Julie Goodwin] was in the MasterChef kitchen. She said to us, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to go here. The standard of food on MasterChef today is radically different from the season that I won’. She very bravely entered the kitchen,” said Jock. 

It’s been 13 years since the first season of MasterChef Australia aired, and things are definitely not how they used to be. It’s not just the judges that have changed, but the knowledge and skills the contestants bring to the table are second to none.

“Everything has changed. Some things never change like the mystery box and the pressure test, things like that. But definitely, the quality of food is substantially different than the early days. We’re embracing a lot more diversity than we ever have and the show is a lot better off for it,” said Jock. 

MasterChef Australia is one of the most successful reality shows on television right now, not just locally, but all over the world. Unlike other reality series, the cooking competition doesn’t rely on drama for views. Instead, they focus on genuine relationships and delicious food.

“I get emotional, I’m the worst. I cry when someone does an amazing job. I can’t help it, I’m so happy for them that they conquered the thing they’ve been struggling with,” said the chef.

It’s those tear-jerking moments that have cemented MasterChef Australia as the most feel-good show on TV. 

“This year, there’s a sense of nurturing and mentoring between the Fans and the Favourites. Bonds form and some of them have become really good friends. But when you have contestants who are literally fans of the other contestants, They look up to them so much.

“You know Montana idolises Billie [McKay]. So for Montana to get advice from Billie is a beautiful thing to watch.”

MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites is bringing everything we know and love back onto our screens, but this year, they’re amping it up.

MasterChef Australia premieres at 7.30pm on April 18, 2022, only on 10 and 10 Play on Demand.

Want more MasterChef Australia? Read here.

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