MasterChef had other plans before Back to Win season

MasterChef 2020 was originally planned as new contestants not returning favourites.

But the switcheroo by 10 has paid off in droves, with its best ratings in years.

A callout went out for 2020 contestants in May 2019 with filming due for October.

But that was before Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris were dumped as judges in late July.

Then-CEO Paul Anderson confirmed at the time, “Australia is full of remarkable cooking talent and we can’t wait to introduce another group – and the next generation of exceptional judges – in season 12 of MasterChef Australia next year.”

But a change of heart led to the Back to Win season, cleverly injecting familiarity alongside new judges Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo & Andy Allen. Viewers have rewarded that decision handsomely.

It isn’t clear what happened to new contestants who applied for 2020, but hopefully they are in the mix for 2021, which is also calling for applications.

10 was contacted for comment.


  1. This has been a great season, I’ve enjoyed it. Despite my top personal favourites are now gone-Simon, Jess and Sarah Tiong. I’m backing Emelia for the win.

  2. 10 deserves huge kudos for Masterchef this year. It had the ability to completely tank but it feels so refreshed and rejuvinated – I really look forward to it airing each night and I haven’t been able to honestly say that for the last few years.
    To have a show in its 12th season outrating alot of newer competition says alot about the brand and credibility Masterchef has built over the years.

    I had no qualms with Matt, Gary and George throughout their time on the show and I was disappointed to see them replaced last year but watching the show this year it absolutely was the right decision.,

  3. jezza the first original one

    I like the new judges, they have found their feet and each bring a different perspective to the comp. Ch10 have achieved a rare feat in replacing 3 long term hugely popular characters, we have seen how badly that can be done with Top Gear.

  4. Can someone please get a look at Poh’s contract to see when she is allowed to be eliminated!

    I think we’re past the point of being cynical now. This isn’t the pure entertainment of ‘The Masked Singer’, is it? There is a competition going on, yeah?

    • mateo_mathieu

      The amount of screen time Poh has been getting because she found herself in jeopardy a lot. Nothing suspicious here. You need to get over it.

      • Happy to be disagreed with Mateo. Fully expect to be in the minority, and I probably would have disagreed with my own comment as recently as 1-2 years ago. I just feel that there has been a pattern to the results of recent 10 reality series (TARAust, Masked Singer) that leads to my conclusion. I wonder if the Honey Badger incident & backlash changed things.

        Not happy to be given life advice, unless you can provide the requisite qualifications. It’s my opinion. I don’t need to get over it at all.

  5. Having familiar contestants while people warmed up to the new judges was a stroke of genius. Look forward to a more traditional season next year with Andy, Mel and Jock.

  6. mateo_mathieu

    As a first time viewer of MasterChef this year, I was pleasantly surprised. Much better than all seasons of MKR combined. This is all about cooking! I wish I watched this instead when it first aired.

  7. Aussiecam58

    I reckon 10 made the right call. Good way to ease the new judges into the mix. Allows us public to get to know and warm to them better.

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