Almost all of the 24 contestants from the Back To Win season of MasterChef Australia returned to the kitchen for the nail-biting finale episode on Monday night - except for one notable absence.
Ben Ungermann, who has been charged with two counts of sexual assault following an alleged incident back in February, which allegedly took place while MasterChef was being filmed in Melbourne, was nowhere to be seen during the finale.
All of the other contestants, except for Perth-based Brendan Pang, who would be subject to Western Australia's strict border lockdown rules, came back for the finale to cheer on Laura Sharrad and Emelia Jackson as they battled it out for the Back To Win title.
And some viewers noticed Ben's absence during the finale.
"Just curious...Is Ben Ungermann there?" one fan wrote on Twitter, while another asked, "Anyone know where Ben Ungermann is?"
Ben has denied all the allegations and insists he will fight the charges, and he's hired a criminal defence lawyer to represent him.
"I act for Ben Ungermann," lawyer Adam Houda wrote on Twitter back in May.
"Allegations against my client are vehemently denied and will be defended."
In a statement to Daily Mail Australia at the time, Mr Houda says Ben strongly denies the charges.
"My client is distressed by the charges, which came as a huge shock to him," he told the publication.
"The allegations, I am instructed, are a complete fabrication and are denied."
News of Ben's disappearance from MasterChef was first revealed in April, with the matter briefly referenced on the program by judge Jock Zonfrillo, later being confirmed by production company Endemol Shine.
The company said of Ben's departure: "We can confirm Ben Ungermann has left the MasterChef Australia competition. As this is a police matter, we will not be making further comment."
Fellow MasterChef contestant Hayden Quinn later elaborated on his former colleague's shock exit, revealing he and the other contestants were blindsided by the news.
"It's much different this season because we don't all live in the one big house like past contestants, we've got our own apartments, we share with one other person. It's private. So there could be times where you don't see anyone for a number of days, you might only see someone in the kitchen," he told Now To Love in May.
"Basically we turned up and Ben wasn't there and Jock said what he said, that was it," Hayden added.
"I haven't seen or heard from Ben since, so I know as much as you."
WATCH BELOW: MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo explains why he carries worry beads. Story continues after video.
Ben is now working at Queensland restaurant, Woodlands Of Marburg.
The chef has created an Indonesian menu for the Brisbane country retreat and both Ben and the staff at Woodlands Of Marburg shared the news on their respective social media accounts.
"Woodlands of Marburg is proud to introduce new Gourmet Chef Ben Ungermann to the Woodlands family. Many new exciting adventures ahead..." the company captioned an image of Ben standing outside the establishment.
Now To Love has contacted Channel 10 for comment.
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