Last week, Ten’s CEO Paul Anderson announced that the famous judges wouldn't be returning to next season, blaming a contractual disagreement for their departure. The Sydney Morning Herald claims that the trio— each on salaries in excess of $1 million— walked after Ten refused to up their pay by more than 40 per cent.
"Across 11 sensational seasons, MasterChef Australia has established itself as one of the most popular and respected cooking television series around the world," the chief executive said in a statement. "For more than a decade, the iconic series has shaped and driven the Australian public's passion for food and cooking, delivered iconic television moments, and made the culinary dreams of everyday home cooks come true. "We would like to thank Gary, George and Matt for their contribution over the past 11 years."
Despite their departure, the cooking reality show— once the highest rating program in the country— will return. And WHO can exclusively reveal that Poh Ling Yeow, Maggie Beer and Curtis Stone are set to take over hosting duties.
Following news of their departure from the MasterChef Australia kitchen, a former Channel Ten executive producer has since come out of the woodwork claiming fellow judge George Calombaris was extremely rude to his staff before appearing on Studio 10's breakfast program.
Speaking on his TV Blackbox podcast, Rob McKnight alleged the celebrity chef once lost his patience with a female producer backstage, sensationally revealing the 40-year-old restaurateur "abused" and "screamed" at the young lady.
"He came out and abused a young 22-year-old for 10 minutes— just screamed at her," McKnight recalled of the confrontation.
LISTEN: Rob McKnight slams George Calombaris for being rude to female producer
Calombaris' blow up was so intense, McKnight's colleagues were moved to contact their him while he was on a holiday.
Following the scary confrontation with the young producer, McKnight revealed the incident was such a "big deal", Calombaris' fellow MasterChef Australia judges, Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan, intentionally boycotted the breakfast show for a number of years.
"No judge from MasterChef appeared on Studio 10 for two years [after the incident] as a sign of solidarity with his perceived issues with the show," McKnight declared.
His jaw-dropping claims follow Calombaris’ run-in with the law. The popular television personality was recently accused of underpaying his workers. The Fair Work Commission later fined Calombaris $200,000 for underpaying 515 staff to the tune of $7.83 million between 2011 and 2017.
After news broke of the scandal, Orlaith Belfrage, a former waitress at Calombaris’ Hellenic Republic told The Project that the amount the TV star owes is actually a lot more, and she personally is still owed “anywhere between three and four thousand dollars”. Belfrage explained that during her period working for Calombaris she was incorrectly labelled as a casual worker, therefore missing out on overtime wages that a full-time worker should be paid.
“For my overtime, it was just explained that that was just how it is, and I can just suck it up and work the job, or leave,” she told the panel. “And I definitely think that this is systemic across the entire industry.”
She continued: “I completely believe there's more to come. I personally have money owing to me. There's a group of people I used to work with that I'm in contact with still that haven't been contacted by this second or third wave of media around the MAdE establishment wage saga."
Although reports claim his staff have been repaid, the scandal lingers with the embattled chef not only out of his WA tourism gig, but now out of TV as well.