MasterChef Fave Melissa Leong Has Left The Show & 3 New Judges Have Been Added To The Sauce

This week’s mystery box must feature onions because I am ugly crying. Nope. That’s not it. I’m sobbing because Melissa Leong will be departing from the MasterChef judging panel, and I don’t like this. Not one bit.

Ahhhh fuck, it’s official. Leong will be yeeting out of the beloved cooking show, making this year her final season. Ugh, we really can’t have anything nice.

In a statement, Network 10 confirmed the devastating news whilst announcing Leong’s replacements, which include MasterChef alum (and my fave) Poh Ling Yeow, food critic Sofia Levin and multi-Michelin Star award-winning chef Jean-Christophe Novelli — who will be joining returning MasterChef judge Andy Allen.

(Image source: Network 10)

“Over the past four years, MasterChef Australia has infused my life with something truly magical. It has provided me with life-changing experiences that have given me the courage to continue to put myself outside of my comfort zone,” Leong said.

“It is with great enthusiasm and warmth that I welcome new faces Sofia, Poh, and Jean-Christophe, to this very special family, I know they will make it theirs in their own special way, as we did.”

Now that Poh has been mentioned, the news has gone from bitter to bittersweet ‘cos we stan Poh in this house!!

A spokesperson for Network 10 told The Australian Financial Review that the change was due to Leong’s programming clash with Dessert Masters — a new cooking show on the channel.

“There is no investigation that has played any part in the deciding of our judging line up,” the spokesperson said, as per the publication.

“Melissa Leong remains a key member of the MasterChef Australia family. Melissa is set to return for a second season of Dessert Masters in 2024, alongside fellow judge and pastry prodigy Amaury Guichon.

“Next year, MasterChef Australia and Dessert Masters will air back-to-back, therefore each show needs its own distinct style and personality and its own unique hosting team.”

Leong’s departure from the cooking show comes months after the shocking death of fellow MasterChef judge, Jock Zonfrillo, who passed away in May.

With the exciting, bittersweet announcement, Andy reflected on returning to the MasterChef kitchen following Zonfrillo’s passing.

“After an extremely difficult year in 2023, and upon reflection, the decision to return to the series is not one I took lightly,” Allen said.

“But there is something special in the MasterChef Australia Kitchen, and it feels right to come back to work with the amazing production team, and to play my role in seeing the contestants do as I have done. 2024 will be the start of a new chapter, and it will be surreal – yet brilliant – to share this moment with my fellow judges, Poh, Sofia and Jean-Christophe.”

Poh described her new gig as a “full circle moment”.

MasterChef Australia is where my food story began, so this feels like coming home. 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,” she said.

Although I am quite bitter about Leong leaving the MasterChef judging seat, I just know that Poh is going to devour her role as a MasterChef judge.

Dessert Masters is set to start on Sunday, November 12 whereas more details on MasterChef 2024 are set to drop.