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Melissa Leong Reveals How Much Food the ‘MasterChef’ Judges Actually Eat

Melissa Leong masterchef australia fans and faves judge

Being a judge on MasterChef Australia definitely has its perks. Not only is it constantly hailed as one of the most wholesome, feel good shows of the television calendar, free from the bickering of Married at First Sight and savage blindsides of Australian Survivor, but the judges get to taste all the delicious food that gets cooked up daily.

If you’ve ever wondered just how much of the dishes the judges eat, though, you’re not alone. Do they ever want to finish off an extra tasty dish? How many bites is enough? What if you fill up on one of the first dishes and still have a ton left to judge?

In a new interview with New Zealand publication Stuff, judge Melissa Leong explained what the deal was.

Chatting with the outlet over her lunch break, Leong said that she’d “already eaten a fair few things” that day, laughing as she added: “It’s fair to say I will never starve to death in this place.”

When it comes to judging, Leong said that she eats “enough to inform [her] judgement”, but no more than that.

“Sometimes when something is especially tasty it is very difficult not to go back for a second, third or fourth bite,” she admitted, “but part of the job is exercising restraint”.

Still, sometimes a contestant will plate up a dish that makes that self-restraint especially difficult.

“I’m not going to lie,” Leong said. “There are definitely days where I do not need to have dinner or lunch because I do most of my eating on camera.”

This season of MasterChef Australia has marked the return of many of our favourite chefs from past seasons, including winners like Julie Goodwin, Sashi Cheliah and Billie McKay, who are going up against a new crop of hopeful home cooks.

Leong said that the decision to name the season Fans and Favourites, rather than Fans Vs Favourites — like the classic Survivor format — was intentional.

“Instead of fans versus faves we’ve said fans and favourites because, really, there’s just been this wonderful sense of mentorship of the returning contestants to the new contestants,” she explained. “And in return, the new contestants have reinvigorated the returning contestants in terms of reminding them why they fell in love with food in the first place.”

Leong continued: “We always like to say when people leave the kitchen after they’ve competed that they become part of the MasterChef family. We really do mean that. So having these familiar faces back in the kitchen has been really wonderful.”

The wording is just one of many ways that MasterChef Australia crew emphasise the connection that’s felt amongst the entire cast and crew of the series.

What we don’t see, Leong said, is the crew of 85-90 people running around “making the magic happen” for viewers at home to watch.

“Just like the viewers at home, everyone on set becomes emotionally invested in the contestants and watching them struggle when something goes horribly awry with their dish can be agonising,” she shared.

Leong said that “it is very hard” to see one of the competitors fall “in a bit of a spiral” when something goes wrong, and to not be able to step in and help, but it’s all a part of the job.

“Because it is television we need to document what’s really happening and we can’t fix everything – we can’t in life either,” she said. “But we’re always there to support them emotionally and give them a pep talk and help them maybe get back on track to the most successful result they can possibly achieve.”

MasterChef Australia airs at 7.30pm Sunday-Thursdays, only on 10 and 10 Play on Demand.

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