Masterchef

EXCLUSIVE: MasterChef Foodies vs Favourites star Billie McKay reveals how the show has changed without former judges Gary, George and Matt

''I think it's just how food and the world is progressing.''

By Alana Mazzoni
Billie McKay thought her days in the MasterChef kitchen were over after taking out the seventh season, but she's back for Foodies vs Favourites.
Following her 2015 victory, Billie quickly packed up and moved to England where she worked at Heston Blumenthal's Michelin-starred The Fat Duck restaurant.
Now, she's back to defend her title at MasterChef HQ where she will square off against 12 of Australia's best home chefs as well as some other fan faves.
Billie won season seven back in 2015. (Image: Ten)
Back when Billie won her season, she was under the tutelage and criticism of veteran judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris.
However she tells Now To Love that working under the guidance of new judges Jock Zonfrillo, Andy Allen and Melissa Leong in the high-pressure kitchen was a completely new experience this time round.
"It's a different feel but I think it's just how food and the world is progressing," she says.
Veteran judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris left the show in 2019. (Image: Ten)
"Not to take anything away from the old judges, but with the new judges, the environment feels really open and welcoming of all types of food from all types of cultures.
"I think there's more of a focus on the food just being really tasty, there's no need to fancy anything up.
"If you can put up a plate of food that doesn't necessarily look really pretty but tastes amazing, I've found that it's more celebrated this time around so that's really nice."
As fans will remember, veteran judges Matt, Gary and George left their long-term judging roles on MasterChef in 2019 ahead of its 12th season after Network Ten failed to come to an agreement with them over pay.
Billie says she and her fellow returning contestants had all noticed the differences in what elements of a dish were more harshly judged in their former seasons.
"While it still had to be delicious with Matt, George and Gary, they definitely appreciated a good looking plate of food. So we were all sort of trying to undo that thought and just put food on the plate that tastes amazing," she says.
Billie says it was a no-brainer to say yes to returning to the show that helped launch her cooking career.
"It was simply because of how much fun I had the first time. The kitchen is so different, it's just such a unique experience being in there and challenging yourself everyday," she says.
Billie says working under the guidance of Jock Zonfrillo, Andy Allen and Melissa Leong was a completely new experience. (Image: Ten)
With a crop of seasoned MasterChef contestants competing against fresh faces, Billie says the dynamic has changed.
"The competition is more fierce so I think we've all tried to step up our game a bit to keep up with each other," she reveals.
"The dynamic of fans vs faves is certainly so different to what I experienced the first time around, but I think it also forces closer bonds with the contestants.
"I think a lot of us have said that's one of the best parts of MasterChef is the friendships you create from being there."
"The competition is more fierce so I think we've all tried to step up our game." (Image: Ten)
MasterChef has long been lauded as a wholesome show that doesn't play into scandalous storylines and bitchiness that so many reality programs often do.
And Billie says what we see on screen is exactly how things play out when cameras aren't rolling.
"I definitely wouldn't have come back for a second time if that was the case. It's always been really wholesome," she says.
"From the crew down to the contestants, everyone there loves the show and loves food so it creates a pretty nice environment to be in."