Bye-bye kitchen! Melissa Leong’s new SBS docu-series shows a different side to the food critic

''Food will always be there, but aren't we allowed to be so many things?!''
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It was a shock to MasterChef Australia fans when it was revealed Melissa Leong would not be returning to judge the 2024 season, but her new role in an SBS documentary series may have revealed why.

The food critic will feature in SBS’s three-part series The Hospital: In The Deep End alongside actor Samuel Johnson and Costa Georgiadis from Gardening Australia.

Melissa joins Samuel and Costa on the SBS series.

(Image: Instagram)

“I have been waiting in anticipation for months, to share this new work…that quite literally involves brain surgery!” she wrote on Instagram.

The series will explore the challenges within the Australian public health system with the three hosts going behind the scenes of one of the nations busiest hospitals.

While Melissa will not be digging into a dish, this project hits a lot closer to home given her mother’s healthcare experience.

“She was nursing unit manager in the emergency department in Sutherland Hospital for about a decade, and she’s been a nurse since she was 17,” Melissa said.

MasterChef won a Logie in 2023.

(Image: Instagram)

“So to be given the opportunity to be a deeply unqualified fly on the wall, to get a feel for how much pressure the public health system is under, why would you say no to that?”

In her announcement shared to Instagram, Melissa teased the SBS series could be one of many more television programs.

“It is a life blessing for me, to be given the chance to continue my expansion and evolution in television,” she began.

“There will be more to come (more on that later!), but for now, I hope this helps people to understand where I’m going, and why. Food will always be there, but aren’t we allowed to be so many things?!”

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“It’s a huge life out there. Thank you for being there with me as I live it.”

The series is expected to arrive to screens sometime in 2024, in conjunction with her new role as judge on Dessert Masters first season alongside pastry chef Amaury Guichon.

“Over the past four years, MasterChef Australia has infused my life with something truly magical,” Melissa said.

“The great honour of growing the MasterChef Australia family with the introduction of Dessert Masters is not lost on me. I relish the sweet opportunity to nurture this special series alongside Amaury.”

Along with her feature in The Hospital: In The Deep End, Melissa has also embarked on other rather surprising endeavours.

The former Masterchef and Dessert Masters judge revealed that she guest hosted an episode of Fight Week for Fox Sports and Kayo.

Speaking with The Daily Telegraph, Melissa spoke about her previously-secret love of UFC and said she “like[s] to surprise people.”

“I don’t do things deliberately for that reason, but I do get a little bit of joy out of people realising I’m not quite what they were expecting me to be,” Melissa added.

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