"It is so good to see a TV chef doing something useful this week, isn't it?" Sam quipped as the panel erupted in laughter.
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday, Channel Ten shocked Australia when they revealed Calombaris, Preston and Mehigan would no longer star as judges on the fan favourite cooking series.
"Across 11 sensational seasons, MasterChef Australia has established itself as one of the most popular and respected cooking television series around the world," network chief executive Paul Anderson 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."
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.
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.
Poh, 46, is a former MasterChef contestant-turned-mentor. She came runner up in the first season of the show in which Julie Goodwin took the top gong. Queen of the kitchen, Maggie Beer, 74, best-known for her Pheasant Farm in South Australia's Barossa Valley, is another regular guest judge on MasterChef, as is Michelin-star-winning chef and restaurant owner Curtis, 43, who has hosted numerous British and Australian cooking shows down through the years.
A MasterChef insider exclusively confirmed the appointments and said Ten would be making the news official tomorrow.