In April 2023, MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo tragically passed away. Now, Network Ten has confirmed its judging panel for MasterChef Australia 2024.
The question of who would replace Zonfrillo in 2024 hung over the 2023 season, with rumours swirling that Jamie Oliver would sign on. Now, Network Ten has announced its new lineup, with news of Melissa Leong’s departure from MasterChef Australia 2024 shocking fans of the beloved cooking competition.
Here’s everything we know about MasterChef Australia 2024 thus far.
Melissa Leong to Depart MasterChef Australia 2024
Fans of MasterChef Australia were shocked to learn that Melissa Leong would not be returning as a judge in 2024.
“Over the past four years, MasterChef Australia has infused my life with something truly magical,” Leong said in a statement. “It has provided me with life-changing experiences that have given me the courage to continue to put myself outside of my comfort zone.”
Having joined the series in 2019 alongside Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo, Leong has become a beloved fixture on the series over the years. Now, Leong is ready to pass the torch.
“It is with great enthusiasm and warmth that I welcome new faces Sofia, Poh, and Jean-Christophe, to this very special family,” she said. “I know they will make it theirs in their own special way, as we did.
Melissa Leong Will Stay on as MasterChef: Dessert Masters Judge
While Leong won’t be appearing on MasterChef Ausralia 2024, she’ll remain an integral part of the MasterChef family. MasterChef: Dessert Masters — which is set to premiere in November 2023 — has already been renewed for a second season. Leong and Amaury Guichon will return as judges in 2024.
“The great honour of growing the MasterChef Australia family with the introduction of Dessert Masters is not lost on me,” she said. “I relish the sweet opportunity to nurture this special series alongside Amaury.”
In a statement, Guichon said that he had “an incredible time filming Dessert Masters” this year.
“I can’t wait for audiences to fall in love with this season and savour every moment the same way I did,” he said. “It is a great honour for me to be able to return for Season 2 alongside Melissa Leong to serve up a whole new set of sweet challenges!”
Who Will Replace Jock Zonfrillo on MasterChef Australia 2024?
Earlier this year, there were conflicting rumours going around about who would replace Jock Zonfrillo as a judge for MasterChef Australia 2024. Woman’s Day reported that Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, and Shannon Bennett were contenders. Meanwhile the Herald Sun asserted that Melissa Leong and Andy Allen might host this series on their own. As it turns out, none of these rumours amounted to anything.
Former MasterChef Australia winner-turned-judge Andy Allen will return, and he’s ready to carry on Zonfrillo’s legacy.
“MasterChef Australia has been part of my life for over a decade,” Allen said in a press statement. “It gave me a pathway into the industry and led me to a career that I’m forever grateful for. After an extremely difficult year in 2023, and upon reflection, the decision to return to the series is not one I took lightly.”
Allen went on to say that “there is something special in the MasterChef Australia kitchen”, and that it felt right to return to the series. Joining him are MasterChef alumnus Poh Ling Yeow, food critic and journalist Sofia Levin, and multi–Michelin Star award-winning chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli.
Allen says the new team “will be the start of a new chapter”.
“It will be surreal — yet brilliant — to share this moment with my fellow judges, Poh, Sofia and Jean-Christophe.”
Poh Ling Yeow Joins MasterChef Australia
Poh Ling Yeow was first introduced to Australia when she competed on MasterChef Australia‘s first season back in 2009. While she finished as runner up to winner Julie Goodwin, her career has flourished over the years, cementing her place in the industry.
In a press statement, Ling Yeow said that it was “a thrilling, full circle moment” to return to MasterChef Australia as a judge.
“MasterChef Australia is where my food story began, so this feels like coming home,” she said. “A big part of me will always be standing on the other side with the contestants and I hope when they look to me, they see proof you don’t have to win to win.”
Sofia Levin Joins MasterChef Australia
A longtime food reviewer, Sofia Levin is ready to bring her critic’s eye to MasterChef Australia.
Levin is passionate about encouraging people to get out of their culinary comfort zone. Now, she’s excited to bring the #EatCuriously movement to the MasterChef kitchen.
“The first season of MasterChef Australia aired the same year I started writing about food,” Levin said in a statement. “By the time I graduated from journalism, I was sharing lesser-known food stories, while the show was exposing the nation to cuisines and cultures they had never considered before. Becoming a judge on MasterChef feels like two parallel paths converging, and I am giddy with excitement at the people I get to stand beside.”
Jean-Christophe Novelli Joins MasterChef Australia
Finally, Jean-Christophe Novelli will be bringing his international star power to the MasterChef kitchen.
Over his career, the 5/5 AA Rosette awarded, multi–Michelin Star winner has trained many an aspiring chef. His cookery school, The Novelli Academy, is one of the world’s most prestigious.
“Fostering culinary talent is something I have cared about for many years, and it is a passion I am excited to share in the MasterChef kitchen,” Novelli said in a statement. “Australian cuisine has a remarkable reputation on the world stage, and it will be a great privilege to meet and mentor the country’s top home cooks on their journeys to greatness.”
Where Will MasterChef Australia 2024 Be Filmed?
Typically, MasterChef Australia is filmed in the Centenary Hall, which is located at the Melbourne Showgrounds. It would be very surprising if they deviated from this location.
When Will MasterChef Australia 2024 Be Filmed?
The 2024 season of MasterChef Australia will film between October 2023 and May 2024. The filming process will take place for around 30 weeks.
Want more MasterChef Australia? Read all our content here, and check out the stories below:
- “Deeply Shocked and Saddened” — ‘MasterChef’ Judge Jock Zonfrillo Has Died Aged 46
- The Beautiful Story Behind Jock Zonfrillo’s Worry Beads
- Melissa Leong Reveals How Much Food the ‘MasterChef’ Judges Actually Eat