EXCLUSIVE: Why MasterChef's star judge Melissa Leong isn't ready to come back for another season in 2021

The fan-favourite judge might not be back next year!

By Sebastian van der Zwan
Caring, charismatic and fiercely intelligent, new judge Melissa Leong has been hailed as single-handedly revitalising MasterChef.
But while the Sydney food writer says the show's 12th season has been "a real joy", she's not ready for series 13 just yet!
"This close to the end, it's hard, because you get emotionally connected to the contestants," Melissa, 38, explains.
"They pour themselves into every challenge, so it's hard not to feel that. There's a lot to be said for self-care and taking time to reset in between projects.
"It probably doesn't come across on screen, but I'm an introvert and I recharge by being on my own. COVID has actually been OK for me, because I need time away from people – just reading, listening to podcasts and doing Pilates."
Melissa explained the gruelling shoots take a big toll on her health. Image: Instagram
For her mental health, Melissa, has limited her interaction on social media, but it's hard to avoid some appalling racism directed at her Singaporean-Chinese heritage.
However, she says, "When it happens to you every single day of your life, you develop a way to cope. The best thing is to greet it with intelligence, humour and maybe some empathy, because you can't sink to that level yourself.
"But it doesn't always work. There are days where I'm blindsided and feel this palpable jolt to the chest. But having tremendous friends like Jock [Zonfrillo] and Andy [Allen] helps. We have each other's backs."
"We have each other's backs," Melissa says of her fellow judges Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo. Image: Channel 10
And her fellow judges can also be counted on for pranks.
"I take off my shoes when we have breaks because I wear very high heels," Melissa says.
"They like to play Hide The Shoe. At one point, my heels ended up at the top of a very high camera crane! Anywhere I can't reach is funny to them."
WATCH BELOW: See the contestants' hilarious reactions to Katy Perry on MasterChef.
MasterChef airs on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights at 7.30pm on Channel 10.

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