Network Ten and FremantleMedia Australia today announce the host and judging team for MasterChef Australia, 2009’s exciting new series from the creative team behind reality hit The Biggest Loser.
Professionals famous for excellence in their fields have been hand selected once again to bring credibility and expert knowledge to this life-changing and entertaining experience. Network Ten has been proud to create household names such as Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson, Jason Coleman, Bonnie Lythgoe, Matt Lee, Shannan Ponton and Michelle Bridges in the past and, with these new faces, MasterChef Australia is set to continue this tradition.
HOST – SARAH WILSON
Sarah Wilson’s career has spanned newspaper and television journalism, the food and wine industries, women’s health advocacy and women’s magazines. With a fervent zeal for food, restaurants and the hospitality industry in general, Sarah is a natural choice as host of MasterChef Australia. Since leaving her post as Editor of Australian Cosmopolitan magazine in late 2007, Sarah has become a respected social commentator and media identity, specialising in social issues and lifestyle trends. As host, Sarah will bring her vibrant personality to MasterChef Australia, and with a wealth of experience in both the hospitality industry and journalism, is perfectly placed to guide the contestants through the daily challenges and weekly eliminations that will mark their transformation in MasterChef Australia.
JUDGE / MENTOR – GEORGE CALOMBARIS
George Calombaris has been awarded more accolades for his work than most receive in a lifetime, and this exuberant chef is still just 30 years of age. George’s molecular gastronomy has seen him become a much talked about chef in the international cooking circuit. In 2004, the Global Food and Wine Magazine voted George as one of the Top 40 Chefs of Influence in the World. An internationally successful restaurateur, George owns three restaurants in Melbourne and one in Mykonos, Greece. His flagship Melbourne restaurant, The Press Club, was recently awarded The Age Good Food Guide ‘Best New Restaurant 2008′ with George named ‘Chef of the Year 2008′. Fiery, passionate and outspoken, George does not mince his words and will push the contestants to grow, improve and strive for excellence in their cooking.
JUDGE / MENTOR – GARY MEHIGAN
With his award-winning establishments, Fenix and Maribyrnong Boathouse, among some of the finest dining experiences in Melbourne, Gary’s credentials command attention. Having received training in world class restaurants, including The Connaught and Le Souffle in London in his earlier years and basing himself in Melbourne since 1991, Gary has head the kitchen in some of the city’s most prominent restaurants, including Browns, Burnham Beeches Country House and Hotel Sofitel before opening the award-winning Fenix, a venture Gary established in 2000. Gary’s wealth of experience and wisdom will be invaluable to the contestants, however his considered and thoughtful demeanour should not fool them into thinking he is a push-over – he is far from it.
Network Ten’s chief programming officer, David Mott said of the exciting line-up: “Sarah Wilson has an addictive passion for food and wine, and a vibrant on-screen presence that makes her a natural host for MasterChef Australia. We have no doubt that Australian viewers will embrace her.”
“The judging and mentoring panel of MasterChef Australia comprises two of Australia’s most renowned, revered and ambitious chefs in Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris. Their personalities are the perfect balance to not only judge, but mentor our contestants as they progress through the series,” said Mr Mott.
FremantleMedia Australia Director of Factual and MasterChef Australia Executive Producer Paul Franklin said, “A phenomenal number of people have applied to be a contestant on MasterChef Australia. From all walks of life, they include city lawyers, RAAF pilots, music producers, teachers and students – all lead such radically different lives yet share a burning passion for food.”
“This illustrates that we’ve tapped into something really special here with MasterChef Australia and that there are a lot of budding foodies who are willing to follow their hearts and pursue this opportunity.”
Still to be announced is MasterChef Australia’s resident food critic who will join Judge/Mentors Gary and George on the panel to critique the contestant’s meals. In addition, there will be a number of prominent guest chefs who will feature throughout the series to lend their skills to the MasterChef apprentices.
MasterChef Australia’s crack team of highly experienced foodies will now travel across the country on the audition trail, all eager to discover the raw talent and passion that resides within the hearts of the thousands of contestants that have auditioned for MasterChef Australia. Their goal: to find budding chefs who have always had the desire and talent but lacked the opportunity to change their careers and lives.
Over 7000 hopefuls have applied to be Australia’s first MasterChef, but only those with a natural flair for food and the burning desire to be a chef will get the ultimate opportunity to pursue their dream as they’re nurtured through a gruelling yet potentially life-changing experience.
MasterChef Australia will air on Network Ten later in 2009.