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Masterchef

EXCLUSIVE: The new MasterChef judges reveal what viewers should expect from this new-look season

Melissa, Jock and Andy spill all.

By TV Week team
MasterChef Australia is coming back for its highly-anticipated twelfth season, but this time, the show is looking a bit different.
The new look sees former contestants returning for a second shot at victory, along with three new judges in Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen, the latter of whom won the show's fourth season.
Ahead of the premiere, TV WEEK chatted to the three newbies and it's safe to say they'll be bringing some new flavour.
Replacing original MasterChef Australia judges Matt, George and Gary was always going to be a tough task – tougher still when you're a confessed reality-TV rookie.
"I wasn't a die-hard MasterChef fan," new judge Melissa Leong admits. "But I wasn't hired to be a fan. I've enjoyed the episodes I've watched, and I've had many friends on the show, but I wasn't a devotee."
"I was hired for a particular skill set – I'm a food writer, it's my job to communicate the experience of food to people. Beyond that, I've [only] watched a few episodes of MasterChef in the past."
The new MasterChef judges mean business. (Image: Network Ten)
While viewers may be familiar with her fellow judges – 2012 winner Andy Allen and MasterChef Australia regular Jock Zonfrillo – Melissa is confident the audience will embrace her too.
"I can only be myself – the best TV happens when people are true to themselves," she says. "I've worked hard in my career and am very comfortable in my skin."
With this year's TV ratings hinting that there may be some viewer fatigue when it comes to cooking-competition showsMy Kitchen Rules' 2020 season struggled to find a strong audience – the new-look MasterChef Australia will be hoping to turn the tide.
"MasterChef is about the joy of food," Melissa says. "It celebrates cooking, as opposed to drama."
Judge Melissa says she wasn't hired to be a fan. (Image: Network Ten)
You'd imagine most people would jump at the opportunity to join MasterChef Australia, but then again, Jock Zonfrillo isn't most people.
The Scottish chef is famously formidable, admitting the idea of becoming a TV personality didn't really appeal.
"I really had to think about it," Jock says.
"I had to be convinced. From a time perspective, it's a huge schedule – it's a juggernaut of a show, and it's important that I give it 100 per cent. I didn't want to be in a position that I couldn't."
Jock admits that the idea of becoming a TV personality didn't really appeal. (Image: Network Ten)
Giving the Scotsman further pause for thought was an aversion to being in the public eye.
While he's no stranger to the MasterChef Australia kitchen, having appeared as a guest judge in previous seasons, taking the reins as a full-time judge is a serious step up.
"My tolerance level for seeing my face in people's living rooms four nights a week was pretty low," Jock says.
"But my team managed to convince me of the appeal and I signed on."
WATCH BELOW: Poh Ling-Yeow returns to MasterChef Australia. Post continues after video...
It was eight years ago that former electrician Andy Allen stepped into the MasterChef Australia kitchen to put his home-cooking skills on show.
He surprised everyone – including himself –when he took out the title in 2012.
Now, almost a decade later and with a wealth of cooking experience behind him, he's again walking through the doors, but this time as a judge.
And he's more nervous than the first time!
The former MasterChef judges have given Andy their blessing. (Image: Network Ten)
"I felt a lot more pressure this time around," Andy, 31, says.
"It's a big role and a big step, but so amazing to get."
Andy is well aware that MasterChef Australia fans were in shock when the original judges – Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris – left the series after a decade last year.
But he reveals he's been given the thumbs-up from the trio.
"I've heard from all three of them," Andy says.
"I caught up with Matt a month before filming. He has so much faith in me and knew I'd be OK, which was comforting."
Andy knows that the former judges worked because they were good mates off-camera.
This time around, he admits "it was a massive gamble" to pick three people that hadn't met before filming.
"It was really ballsy of the network to do that," he says.
"But they've got it so right!"
Andy won season four of the hit cooking show. (Image: Network Ten)

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