Gary, George & Matt leave 'MasterChef Australia'. What's next for the trio?
The three charismatic judges of the MasterChef Australia cooking contest have walked out of the kitchen en masse amid a dispute over pay.
Producers announced that Tuesday night's show — the finale of season 11 — was the last time Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris would adjudicate the contestants' dishes.
The Network 10 cooking contest, which has been running since 2009, has a huge following overseas. Indeed many South Africans are fans.
"Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George," Network 10 said in a statement.
Gary, however, took to Instagram to say "it was never about the money and never will be about the money".
"It was time to move on, have more free time to explore our own creativity ... We couldn’t agree on the term of the new contract for 2020 and season 12. Something we felt very strongly about," he posted.
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To all of our fans ‘thank you’ To the team that makes MasterChef ‘thank you’ and to all of the contestants that we know and love, we are all part of a very exclusive club and what a journey what an experience. 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. 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.......🤗 @mattscravat @gcalombaris @masterchefau #masterchefau #foodies #foodiesofinstagram #homecooks #homecooking #masterchef
George also weighed in on Instagram, saying "We were close to signing a new contract for season 12 however the dates just didn’t align".
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@masterchefau geez you have warmed our hearts, filled our stomachs and sizzled our souls. To the great contestants of the past 11 years, you ought to be proud. To the incredible @masterchefau team that works so hard to make the best cooking show on earth, we salute you. To our families, friends and teams who have supported us, you freakin’ rock. 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 @mattscravat and @garymehigan: I love you and thank you. Time to take a deep breath and be thankful. With love GC 🧿 xxx
The departure comes after Calombaris was fined for underpaying staff at his own restaurants by millions of Australian dollars.
The country's attorney-general even weighed in on the dispute, suggesting Calombaris got off lightly with an Aus$200k (about R1,9m) fine.
Speculation has been rife about who might replace the trio, and whether viewers can stomach another serving of MasterChef without them.
So what's next for Gary, George and Matt? The Sydney Morning Herald reports that they've been involved in "confidential discussions with rival TV networks and streaming services about a new series aimed at a global audience".
• Additional reporting by staff reporter.