“This season is absolutely amazing,” Melissa tells WHO. “Throwing together 12 contestants that have been here before, and have gone out into the world and achieved their own sense of self within the world of food – then throw in 12 superfans who have grown up watching the show and are really very sophisticated in what they can achieve. That’s an interesting dynamic.
“I think for the returning contestants, they are invigorated by that rush of new blood. And for the brand new superfans, they are really working with people who have been their heroes and who they aspire to be,” she adds.
“You see a lot of incredible food, you see a lot of personal, individual styles being struck very early, and that’s something that doesn’t happen for a long time with people who are trying to find their identity in the kitchen. It’s really a testament to the quality of [the contestants].”
Scroll through to see who will be cooking in the kitchen on MasterChef Australia: Foodies vs Favourites 2022.
Julie Goodwin (Season 1 Favourite)
She’s the iconic winner of the very first season of MasterChef Australia, taking out the top spot in a nail-biting finale against Poh Ling Yeow. After winning the series, she landed her own segment on The 7pm Project and later hosted her own cooking show on the Nine Network called Home Cooked With Julie Goodwin.
Julie also wrote her first cook book titled Our Family Table, and went on to release several more including a series for the 20/20 diet and family meals. She also launched a website filled with recipes (juliegoodwin.com) and appeared in the first season of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in 2015.
Tommy Pham (Season 13 Favourite)
A fan-favourite from the latest season in 2021, it makes sense he’d be selected to return after placing seventh.
The kindergarten teacher from NSW won over fans thanks to his heartfelt appearance on the show, he also wowed the judges with his delectable dishes – especially his Vietnamese recipes, which he’s continued to share on Instagram after being eliminated from the series.
Ready to make a comeback in the New Year, Tommy will be one to watch.
Michael Weldon (Season 3 Favourite)
Former runner-up Michael was confirmed to be among the returning stars by 10 earlier this year.
He famously placed second in the third season in 2011, going on to work with Coles Supermarkets in product development. He later landed a role as co-host of the food-loving TV series Farm to Fork alongside Courtney Roulston and fellow MasterChef alum Sarah Todd and Andy Allen (who's now a judge).
Sashi Cheliah (Season 10 Favourite)
Who could forget the moment humble home cook Sashi won the competition in 2018? With epic hugs from his kids as the confetti sprinkled on down in the finale, we couldn’t have imagined a more deserving winner of the highest EVER score in a MasterChef finale.
Following his win, Sashi opened a series of pop-up restaurants called GAJA by Sashi before putting down roots in his local Adelaide with a restaurant and express version of GAJA. He also launched his own home chef kits called Sashi’s Secret, with kits for dishes like Nasi Goreng and Malaysian Chicken Curry.
We can’t wait to see what he’ll whip up in the kitchen this time around!
Sarah Todd (Season 6 Favourite)
Yes, Sarah is also returning! Having appeared on Season 6 in 2014 – where she placed ninth and famously gained 50k followers in India after cooking aloo gobi – Sarah went on to open her own restaurant in Goa, India, and document the process in an SBS Australia docuseries My Restaurant in India.
She also filmed a series called Serve It Like Sarah while she was in India, and followed her experience up with the release of My Healthy Model Cookbook and the documenrary Awesome Assam With Sarah Todd.
Opening her second restaurant, The Wine Rack in Mumbai, she filmed a second docuseries aptly titled My Second Restaurant in India for SBS Australia. Now working with her co-stars Michael and Andy on Farm to Fork for 10, it’s fair to say Sarah has been rather busy over the past seven years.
Could she be the one to take out the title of MasterChef? Stay tuned.
Alvin Quah (Season 2 Favourite)
Appearing on the show in 2010, Alvin placed fifth in the second season (which was won by Adam Liaw).
He later returned to the show in Season 3 to give cooking lessons to new contestants during MasterClass, and went on to work with food brands including Ayam as an ambassador.
With his cheeky sense of humour and loveable personality, we can’t wait to welcome Alvin back into the MasterChef Kitchen.
Aldo Ortado (Season 10 Favourite)
Loved for his "Fabio-esque" hair and excellent cooking skills, fans had a soft spot for Aldo in his season - where he placed 13 to Sashi, also returning this year.
Following his MasterChef Australia journey, Aldo appeared on television in numerous cooking segments, and opened pop up restaurants in Sydney. But he relishes being back home in the famous kitchen - planning to win this time around.
Billie McKay (Season 7 Favourite)
After winning her season against fierce competitors like Georgia Barnes and Jessica Arnott, Billie accepted an offer to work in Heston Blumenthal’s famed three-Michelin star restaurant, The Fat Duck, in London.
When she returned home, Billie continued the family business as a cheese maker on her family dairy farm, alongside her mum Alison. She also become a first-time-parent with her husband, Haydn.
The proud mother to two-year-old Ada, Billie is keen to return to the MasterChef Kitchen and show off her refined skills all these years later. Can she claim her second trophy?
Christina Batista (Season 5 Favourite)
Another fan-fave, Christina made it to Finals Week before bowing out in fifth place in 2013.
She went on to work at the prestigious Quay restaurant before beginning her own market stall and running a catering business.
Hoping to bring her love of Portuguese cuisine back onto Australian screens, Christina will return to the MasterChef Kitchen in the hopes of winning almost 10 years later.
Mindy Woods (Season 4 Favourites)
She placed fourth in the fourth season of MasterChef, going on to work as Head of Culinary Development for the Lotus Group. She later became CEO before returning to country in 2020 to open Karkalla in Byron Bay.
A proud Bundjalung woman of the Widjabul Wia bul clan, Mindy has a strong desire to connect indigenous and non-indigenous people with Aboriginal culture, art and stories through food. We can't wait to see her back in the kitchen.
Minoli De Silva (Season 13 Favourite)
She's been hosting pop-up restaurants and hosting cooking classes back in Darwin since she left Season 13 - and Minoli is ready to head back into the kitchen.
With a love of traditional Sri Lankan flavours, Minoli wowed the judges as she competed in 2021. With food idols including Charmaine Solomon, Yotam Ottolenghi and Eyal Shani, Minoli admits her Amma (mum) is her favourite person to watch cook.
Ali Stoner (Fan)
With more than 200 cookbooks and a love of seasonal produce, Ali is ready to take on every cooking challenge in the famed MasterChef kitchen.
Chris Tran (Fan)
Chris' dad was a trained chef who specialised in European dishes and his Mum prepared hearty and traditional Vietnamese food for the home. With a history of eating delicious food at home, Chris used cooking as a way to connect with his culture.
Daniel Lamble (Fan)
Raised in Katherine, Daniel's childhood was spent outdoors in the Northern Territory, regularly camping and fishing. Now describing his style of cooking as "rustic," he admits he might need to sweeten his skills in the kitchen.
His firefighter buddies are impressed with his cooking, making him the chef of the bunch - will the judges be impressed?
Dulan Hapuarachchi (Fan)
Born in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo, Dulan was raised with good food made for family occasions - and he says he can still remember the tears while peeling onions for his grandmother. With a dream to one day cook on the Sicilian coast, Dulan says he's got a love of trying different cuisines.
Harry Tomlinson (Fan)
Harry is a coffee specialist, with a dream of becoming a food writer and winning MasterChef. She loves to cook using fresh oysters, vine-ripened tomatoes and parmigiano, and describes her style of cooking as homely with refined flavours.
Jenn Lee (Fan)
Born in Taiwan, Jenn and her family moved to Brisbane when she was six. She has fond memories of making dishes with her family, including Zongzi and Taiwanese-style sponge cake. Now she enjoys blending flavours with the likes of Korean-style BBQ with beautiful pork jowland ox tongue, fresh prawns, steamed fish, grilled king oyster mushrooms and Taiwanese style BBQ corn.
Keyma Vasquez Montero (Fan)
Born in Venezuela, Keyma recalls preparing big feasts with game meat on offer including turtle and spotted paca. Keen to bring her culture to the table, Keyma's ideal meal would cover several courses, with empanadas, golfeados (cheesy rolls), reina pepiada arepas (chicken and avocado cornmeal cakes), chupe (chicken and corn soup) and to finish it off, torta tres leches (three milk cake).
Matt Landmark (Fan)
Growing up in New Zealand with a limited budget, Matt at family dinners that were simple and nutritious. But he says they were budget staples, and he can recall the very first time he tried fresh coriander in a sharehouse with friends. Blown away by the flavour, it marked the turning point in his cooking journey. Nowadays, Matt loves reading cookbooks, working on new techniques, and seeking feedback on ways to improve. He'll be a judges favourite in no time.
Max Krapivsky (Fan)
Max has applied to the show three times in the past, finally scoring his shot this season to compete against the best of the best. Ready to make it to the Grand Final and beyond, Max dreams of one day opening his very own dine-in bottle-o, an Aussie-centric wine and beer local with a small rotating chalk-board menu. Honestly, count us in.
Melanie Persson (Fan)
Diagnosed with coeliac disease five years ago, Melanie is out to prove you can make delicious gluten-free food that packs a punch. Following her MasterChef Australia journey, she dreams of publishing cookbooks that show how to prepare beautiful, complex dishes that don’t compromise on flavour.
Montana Hughes (Fan)
Montana nearly made it onto MasterChef Australia in 2019, but after cooking for the judges she narrowly missed out on a spot in the top 24. As someone who was only 12 years of age when Favourite Julie Goodwin took out the inaugural MasterChef title, Montana is excited to cook alongside her peers.
Steph Woon (Fan)
With a love of Japanese culture, Steph has spent plenty of time exploring the country and devouring local cuisine. Her passion for travel has evolved into a food dream, to one day open a patisserie serving Japanese and southeast Asian inspired cakes and pastries including Pandan and coconut chiffons, Yuzu double fromage cheesecakes and Matcha swiss rolls.