After four years of judging dishes, Melissa Leong has announced she will be leaving ‘MasterChef Australia’.
Despite reports of tension between Melissa and the production staff, her departure appears to actually be due to her new role as a host/judge on the ‘MasterChef’ spinoff show ‘Dessert Masters’. The two shows will air back-to-back, and “each show needs its own distinct style,” Network 10 said.
"My time as co-host and judge on ‘MasterChef Australia’ has been a great gift,” she said on Instagram.
“To have been given the opportunity to learn and grow - and now to be given the vote of confidence to expand and evolve the ‘MasterChef’ universe is huge! Stepping away from the main show and into ‘Dessert Masters AU’ alongside the extraordinary Amaury Guichon, is yet another sweet present indeed.”
Joining the returning Andy Allen on the MasterChef judging panel will be season one runner-up Poh Ling Yeow, food critic Sofia Klevin and the award-winning French celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.
In her Instagram post, Melissa wished the new trio “all the best in making the show theirs”.
“My gratitude to our audience for all your support,” she finished. “Can't wait for you to see the new show.”
Allen said it was a tough choice to return to the show, especially in light of the sudden death of fellow judge Jock Zonfrillo.
“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 in a statement.
“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.”
We wish Melissa and the new judges all the best in their next ventures!