MasterChef Australia judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris WON’T return next year

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In shock news, Channel Ten has announced MasterChef judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris WON’T return next season.

Network Ten chief executive officer Paul Anderson said: “Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George.

“Across 11 sensational seasons, MasterChef Australia has established itself as one of the most popular and respected cooking television series around the world. For more than a decade, the iconic series has shaped and driven the Australian public’s passion for food and cooking, delivered iconic television moments, and made the culinary dreams of everyday home cooks come true.

“We would like to thank Gary, George and Matt for their contribution over the past 11 years,” he said.

MasterChef Australia has always been about ordinary Australians doing extraordinary things for the love of food and we believe it is very important to continue that ethos.

“Australia is full of remarkable cooking talent and we can’t wait to introduce another group – and the next generation of exceptional judges – in season 12 of MasterChef Australia next year.”

MasterChef Australia judges George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan won’t return next year.

(Image: Network Ten)

The announcement comes after months of bad press for George Calombaris, after the TV personality was embroiled in a $7.8 million wage scandal after he was found to be underpaying his restaurant staff.

More than 20,000 people signed a petition in past week, calling for the embattled reality TV judge to be fired from MasterChef after his company, MAdE Establishment, was fined $200,000, which many deemed to be a penalty that was too low.

George was also dropped from his lucrative Tourism WA endorsement in the wake of the backlash.

In May this year, George spoke to TV WEEK about his turbulent period, which as well as been caught underpaying his staff, included being charged with assault after becoming embroiled in an argument at the A-League Grand Final. He pleaded guilty, then won his appeal against a conviction in January 2018.

At the time, he told the judge he was working towards “being a better man”, especially in the wake of losing two key ambassadorship roles as a result of the incident.

George Calombaris,who was embroiled in an argument at the A-League Grand Final in 2017, won his appeal against a conviction in January 2018.

(Image: Getty Images)

In the interview with TV WEEK in May, George said he was ready to seek forgiveness.

“I’m probably learning to stop and smell the roses,” he said. “I can’t change what I’ve done or what’s happened. I’m certainly remorseful about some of those things, but I’m proud of a lot of things too. To those I’ve learnt from, thank you. To those I’ve taught, I’m honoured. And to those I’ve hurt, I’m sorry.

He added: “When I know I’ve done something wrong or made a mistake, I’m not upset at anyone, but [rather] that I’ve let them down.”

“I’m lucky to have incredible mechanisms and people around me that have helped me get through it.”

WATCH: MasterChef Australia 2019: Meet Jess Hall. Post continues after video…

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Surprisingly, Matt, George and Gary have almost walked away from MasterChef before.

Following the show’s fifth season, which aired in 2013, the trio admitted to TV WEEK they almost quit the reality cooking show after what they call “curveballs” were thrown into the formula to create more drama, but the move backfired. Overnight, thousands of viewers switched off.

By the finale, they’d lost more than a million regular watchers of the show.

“We get to pick who gets an apron, but that year, we didn’t,” Matt, 57, explained. “We felt that maybe we didn’t have the best possible cooks we could have had.

“It turned out that some great cooks came out of that series, but it didn’t feel like the show we’d signed up for.”

The trio almost walked away from the franchise in 2013 when they were unhappy with changes made to the format.

(Image: Network Ten)

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