Food critic becomes Masterchef host

By David Knox on January 11, 2009 / Filed Under News 31

Channel TEN has appointed former magazine editor and newspaper food critic Sarah Wilson to host Masterchef Australia.

After leaving her post as Editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, she joined News Ltd. as an opinion columnist for the Daily Telegraph.

Judges for the show are George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan. A food critic is yet to be announced.

The reality series, based on a UK format, seeks to discover “Australia’s next super chef.” It will screen six nights a week following the end of The Biggest Loser, and is one of TEN’s major hopes for 2009.

A team of experts will lead 16 hopefuls through a series of challenges as they battle it out for the grand title.

The series, produced by FremantleAustralia, closed off applications from budding chefs on Friday and received over 7000 applications.

Source: Sunday Telegraph

Press Release:
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.

31 Comments »

  1. David Knox October 14, 2009 at 2:55 pm -

    Good luck! Keep us posted…

  2. jo k October 14, 2009 at 2:49 pm -

    l love masterchef, l am actually in the running for the top 50 for masterchef 2010 and may l say l call myself a cook…it takes a long time of slog, an aprenticeship and hard hard work to call yourself a chef! So to all the fabulous chefs out there l raise my glass, well done, and to all the cooks keep cooking from the heart – masterchef allows us cooks to get out there and express our passion, taste and our artistic expression to the palette!

  3. sarah July 14, 2009 at 8:12 pm -

    well you’re all wrong because its rated well and is very entertaining to watch

  4. Archie Gerzee (retired trawler skipper) June 3, 2009 at 8:47 pm -

    Hi, I have fished the New Zealand Pacific for 20 years and delivered fish to restaurants like the Whitangi Hotel in the Bay of Islands, never ever would I have thought that top judges (Cheffs) like your self even touched those fish dishes
    served by the blue team made from bait fish. They should have been disqualified straight away, no restaurant should serve food made from bait fish to custommers. Would you taste a dish, even though beautifull presented made from pet food? I doubt it very much. I am very disappointed in the guest cheff from that fish restaurant in Sydney not to classify that bait dish as “Not for human consumption.”
    Enjoy the program, but….that particular dish was a no! no!
    Regards
    Archie.

  5. Kathy May 18, 2009 at 12:15 pm -

    I agree with Bernard, I want to watch the show but I can not stand the format. There was such an opportunity for a “fresh” lifestyle/contest/reality show. Due to the financial squeeze people are staying at home and maybe trying to learn some home skills. We want to be inspired to do more, give cooking a go, be healthier for our children. We have been let down. Instead we get is the same old over the top mannerisms of the host and judges. The same old anti climax pauses. Judges that appear harsh and superior. When will TV producers start to realize that we are so over the long pauses, double takes after ads that we have already seen before the ads…. And so on!!

  6. Bernard Alston May 4, 2009 at 10:48 am -

    I enjoyed the UK series Master Chef. You wannabees are making us look like colonials. In trying to create ‘good television’, you’ve ended up with a cross between the worst of Gordon Ramsay and the worst of Jamie Oliver with none of their flair and style. There is no need for such disrespect from the judges, especially from the little shaved headed bully. Lucky for you there is little competition in your timeslot, but it’ll be a DVD or a book for me.

  7. Cathy George April 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm -

    Please explain why Melbourne is the “food capital of Australia.”

    Top 50 Restaurant of the World–No Melbourne Restaurants–N0 17 Tetsuya’s Sydney–No 46 Quay Sydney.

    The top 100 Gourmet Taveller Restaurants Australia –say top 15 — 11 Sydney–3 Vic (1oe those is closed)

  8. Sara April 28, 2009 at 10:57 am -

    Well, didn’t C10 well and truly butcher Masterchef last night. My hubby predicted they would and boy was he right. What a pity. C10 had a wonderful opportunity to follow in the footsteps of MC UK, a popular show with a winning formula. In the UK, the MC title is a prestigious award which really is all about the food and the talent. The debacle we witnessed last night bore no resemblence to that. Instead, they have turned it into a version of Australian Idol. The enormity of the egos of the 3 ‘judges’ was such that there was no room left for the food or the talent. The last thing Australian TV audiences needed was another Idol or So You Think You Can Dance. They were looking for something refreshingly different – we’ve all been let down.

  9. connie April 6, 2009 at 3:39 pm -

    I sent in a application. And got no reply at all.
    Maybe they thought i was too experienced.
    What ever.

  10. penny March 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm -

    has anyone heard if they are in or not yet? I know someone that had their last interview a week and a half ago and has not heard anything back. Any clue of what they are competing for?

  11. Beverley Brand February 10, 2009 at 12:49 pm -

    Applied for Masterchef and as of 10/02/2009 still haven’t received a reply – only acknowledgement of application. I am probably too boring not having any issues, neurosis or attitudes! Just love cooking.

    A ‘thanks but no thanks’ would have been just good manners!

  12. Betty February 8, 2009 at 1:26 pm -

    Just another cooking show to feed the egos of these chefs who think they are God. I’d rather watch the chefs on the food channel!

  13. Big Brother in the Kitchen February 4, 2009 at 2:22 pm -

    Masterchef Australia is replacing Big Brother because it’s going to be “Big Brother in the kitchen”. Sadly, many of the original Masterchef groupies are in for a big disappointment with this show,

    This is a Channel 10 production – is there any need to say another word? This is not going to be a show about great cooking or food, instead it will be a TV extravaganza full of emotion, crying, disappointment, nervousness, evictions and maybe the odd bit of back stabbing. Maybe even the odd shower scene when the contestents are locked up in the house together?

  14. Edwina Shackleton February 4, 2009 at 11:55 am -

    masterchef australia will be filmed at 13 doody street alexandria 2015 from mid feb for 7 months

  15. laja January 29, 2009 at 10:48 am -

    I’m pretty sure Channel TEN have totally messed up the great British format of Masterchef (Re: Tony Harrison’s comment). I’ve heard that the successful applicants all have to live in the same house for 4 months. Sounds more like Big Brother for wannabe Chefs. If this is true, I think its sad Channel TEN feels it needs to change a winning formula to try and capture the ‘young’ audience.

  16. dave January 27, 2009 at 8:20 pm -

    Yeh , I got an interview in brisbane on this sunday coming. That’s a long way from Townsville. All very exciting. The first stage is difficult though, two dishes already preped and dished out on sight. Obviously they will be cold with no heating facilities. Tough!!!! will try and create two dishes that represent North Qld.

  17. Lina January 21, 2009 at 9:00 pm -

    Wow, good luck with your audition! Has anyone from Brisbane heard anything yet?

  18. Jules January 19, 2009 at 8:17 pm -

    I have an audition in Sydney on Tuesday. I have no idea what to cook and am nervous already!

  19. Stace January 17, 2009 at 8:33 pm -

    what are the stakes? What exactly does Australia’s new “super chef” win??

  20. Tony Harrison January 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm -

    A host, 2 mentor/judges and guest critics? 10 are already messing with the successful British formula. The more I hear about this, the more I worry. I’ll wait for the next Uk series on Food Channel I think.

  21. Marls January 12, 2009 at 3:11 pm -

    Im pleased with the choice of judges/mentors and reserve judgement on the host. Thank goodness it wasnt Neil Perry among them. Masterchef UK is a really enjoyable show and Ive watched for a couple of years now and roped in most of my family who are all converted. I have an application in and keeping fingers crossed.

  22. RichoTB January 12, 2009 at 12:41 am -

    This show sounds incredibly boring. Why don’t they come up with something fresh?? At least Taken Out was something left of centre, even if it did flop massively. This show sounds like its just riding the coattails of other series like Jamie At Home and that awful Ramsay fad that died. If they made it in the style of Iron Chef that could be fun but if its all serious and tedious it could have no viewers. I can see it becoming a hit for ten though :\

  23. Tepee January 11, 2009 at 10:13 pm -

    Never heard of her and I’m not interested in cooking. But seeing as there won’t be anything to watch at 7:00 pm (H&A = projectile vomiting and 2.5 Men = massive overkill) I’ll probably watch it. After all I’ve been roped in to all of Ten’s 7pm “strip” shows: Biggest Loser, BB, Seinfeld, Friends, Simpsons, and W&G repeats. I even watched The HotHouse back in ’04, and I don’t like renovating.

  24. Reality Raver January 11, 2009 at 4:35 pm -

    I don’t want to increase the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne but the two judges are chefs from Melbourne restaurants. Not happy.

    Yes Bindi I agree it is is oxymoronic that Masterchef will follow The Biggest Loser.

  25. redbullboy January 11, 2009 at 4:02 pm -

    I agree with Jerome – Channel 10 seem to be taking MC seriously, and the appointment of a host who isnt perhaps a household name suggests to me that they are confident in both the format of the show and the choice of host and judges/mentors that they didnt feel the need to appoint a high-profile team to front the program. 6 nights a week does sound a bit over the top, but then again thats what most people said about the biggest loser and it continues to be one of the highest rating programs for 10 during the 7pm slot.

  26. ryan January 11, 2009 at 3:58 pm -

    masterchef like other chef shows all encourage people to use fresh food with perfect portions, if anything the show will encourage people to cook their own food instead of going and buying take away. sounds like an awesome show and i will def be tuning in. i would have liked gretel to get the host though:)

  27. Lowie January 11, 2009 at 3:21 pm -

    At first I was like, huh?, with with choice. But I’d rather ten give the role to a nobody, than a media whore like Matt Moran.

  28. Jerome January 11, 2009 at 2:05 pm -

    despite what a lot of people’s views on this show are i am going to give it a shot.

    does anyone know when home run will air on 9. rumours were april so that they could pick up the biggest loser crowd but if this is on at the same time i’m sure they will go to MC.

    the international versions always seem to get good responses, i think ten can do it, they seem to be taking it seriously and know how much is riding on it.

  29. Cleavy January 11, 2009 at 10:38 am -

    they’re airing it 6 nights a week?! won’t that burn out the show?

  30. Zambora January 11, 2009 at 5:21 am -

    Hooray !
    Thank goodness they did not pick a “name’ aka “mediachef”
    Masterchef relies a lot on the host and critics.
    Get it right and they have a winner, get it wrong and you have another disaster in mould of Yasmin Getting Married,The Nation or Out of the question.

  31. bindi January 11, 2009 at 5:07 am -

    so they follow the biggest loser which encourages people to lose weight with masterchef which teases them with food and gets them to put the weight back on, thus ensuring next years biggest loser contestant pool. diabolical :)

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