Reality TV

Ever wondered how much the MasterChef contestants pocket when they go on the show?

The answer may surprise you.
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When it comes to MasterChef Australia, there’s no denying the talent belonging to some of the contestants. But like anything, there’s got to be at least a little compensation to pouring their hearts and souls into highly stressful challenges as they get tested in ways they’ve never been before in the elusive kitchen setting.

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And while there’s no doubt that the contestants are paid during the show, the actual sum of said payment has been a little unclear – until now.

Enter us curious folk, who did some digging to find out exactly what lures so many foodies to try their hand at the show each year…

When MasterChef first hit Aussie screens in 2009, the country was immediately enamoured with the cook-off format series.

Now, many of our country’s most loved chefs have strong ties with the show – either as former contestants or guest judges.

MasterChef has returned in 2023, following the death of Jock Zanfrillo. (Credit: Ten)

Indeed the show does seem to be quite the labour of love for budding cooks, who undergo challenging tests against the clock in a format that would stress out even the most cool, calm and collected of us.

But is there at least some kind of lucrative lure to sweeten the deal for those that don’t go on to win? Well, as it turns out, it seems there really isn’t.

Yep, reports on the show have revealed that contestants are actually only paid slightly more than the legal minimum wage.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a mere $630 allowance each week was handed out to the 2013 contestants, which is only slightly more than the minimum $583 a week for an entry level cook.

Added extras included food and accommodation expenses covered, but even so, that’s not a lot to write home about.

In 2011, the situation was even more dire, with it being reported that contestants were paid a mere $500 a week – less than half of the average wage of $1,291 at the time, according to

masterchef billy law
When Billy Law was on MasterChef he says he didn’t pay attention to the money until after filming. (Credit: 10)

One contestant, Billy Law, spoke out about the shoddy amount, stating that while he didn’t really know the difference while filming, his outlook changed after the show.

“That’s when the reality hits and it’s then the time to start looking for jobs and to start making money again,” he explained.

There is of course, one glaringly obvious catch here – despite the show’s rather measly pay, there’s a very comfortable treat awaiting the grand champion.

Indeed in 2019, winner Larissa Takchi was awarded a cool $250,000 in prize money after taking out the top spot.

Not only that, but the show is guaranteed to boost their profile within the industry, with many winners going on to release cook books, host their own shows and even open their own restaurants.

Case in point: Season five winner Emma Dean became a host for daily cooking show My Market Kitchen, while season four winner Andy Allen is a co-owner of the Three Blue Ducks restaurants and is returned as a judge alongside Jock Zonfrillo and Melissa Leong.

Andy Allen, a former contestant now serves as judge alongside Melissa Leong and the late Jock Zonfrillo. (Credit: 10)

These successful foodie career paths are guaranteed to bring in the dollars (particularly when you’re living in passionate foodie cities like Sydney and Melbourne).

That being said, one has to win the show before seeing this level of frivolity.

And regardless, the pay on the show does mean that the contestants really are there for the right reasons, proving the authenticity of the competition – something quite refreshing in today’s reality TV landscape.

So without further ado, bring on the new season of MasterChef – we’re ready to drool!

This article previously appeared on our sister site Now To Love.

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