Last night the 2019 Masterchef grand final aired, and with it came the news that none of the show’s three, high profile judges George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston, would return in 2020.
The reason for the exodus? Dollars. And A LOT of them.
Ten CEO Paul Anderson said in a statement yesterday: “Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George.”
Reportedly, the trio were requesting a 40 percent pay rise on top of their $1 million+ salaries.
Now, I’m not against promotions being fairly dealt. The success of Masterchef is unquestionable. This year alone, ratings have regularly skyrocketed with between 550,000 and 650,000 metro viewers tuning in each night. Last night’s finale drew in a colossal 992,000. Arguably, Mehigan, Calombaris and Preston have been a part of that.
But, in my humble opinion, and as someone who watches the show regularly, they’re certainly not the clincher.
In fact, I’d argue that after a decade in the role, all three judges have grown a bit stale. Their banter is predictable, their critiques are same-same, and their quirks (like George’s penchant for tiny tongs) are no longer, well, quirky. I might be overstepping the line here, but even Matt’s assortment of cravats have stopped me guessing.
Moreover, I find it more than a tad rich (mind the pun) for George Calombaris to be seeking a monstrous pay rise at the same time he’s squirming to explain why he’s been significantly underpaying his own restaurant staff.
His hospitality empire MAdE has just been forced to back pay employees more than $7.8 million dollars in lost wages and superannuation, with the Fair Work Commission finding that annualised salary arrangements for several staff were not applied while others missed out on overtime and penalty rates.
The gall of him asking for more cash from Network Ten as he works pointlessly to iron out his image is astonishing.
It also highlights the extent to which male privilege in this country is alive and well. In what universe, would a woman in a similar situation do the same?
I can’t think of an example.
The upside to this all, is that Network Ten haven’t budged. Like the rest of us, they probably know that the era of Calombaris, Mehigan and Preston reigning supreme is over. It’s time for a shake up.
Contenders allegedly in the race to take over as the show’s judges include former contestant and celebrity chef, Poh Ling Yeow, culinary icon Maggie Beer and Coles poster boy, Curtis Stone.
The Twitter universe likewise threw out some sage suggestions yesterday including Adam Liaw, Kylie Kwong and Mark Olive.
— Sarah Dingle 淑仪 (@sarahdingle_) July 23, 2019
My vote for #masterchef judge is Mark Olive – he is great on SBS and he is so entertaining. And how great to have an Indigenous host on mainstream TV
— Gabrielle Jackson (@gabriellecj) July 23, 2019
Three boys out, three girls in.
Poh Ling Yeow
Maggie Beer as recurring kitchen mentor.
— Matt (@Matt_in_London) July 23, 2019
The common thread? A clear push for greater diversity.
It’s been ten years since Masterchef first aired, and a lot has changed. A decade of Gary, George and Matt has been fun, but it’s time for some fresh faces to join the fray.