Will they rise, or will they crumble? MasterChef Australia judge Melissa Leong spoke to 10 play and revealed that this year, the celebrities surprised them when it came to all the challenges.
“It's been an absolute thrill to be in the judges’ seat in this show,” Mel told 10 play. “It's been such a beloved show for Australia for such a long time and to be part of that next guard is just a real honour. We have so much fun every single day that we're on set, so I'm really glad that translates and people can see what we've been up to everything every single day.”
The judges are accustomed to tasting high-quality, authentic, and sometimes home-cooked meals from skilled, aspiring chefs, but when it comes to Olympians, fashion designers and footy players, will the standard remain so high?
“We hoped that they could all cook reasonably well. But honestly, the standard of cooking blew us away, we were prepared for good food, but I don't think we were prepared for the greatness of the food that we experienced, to be really honest with you,” Mel said.
“I’m really thrilled for the Australian audience and for the global audience to see just how talented these national treasures are in a food context as well as what they're famous for.”
And despite all the changes which will occur in this season, the judge’s role in the kitchen will remain the same.
“Our role is to set the challenges and to be as encouraging as we can to bring out the best in each of the contestants. So whether or not that's a junior or a celebrity or an aspiring home cook who wants to change their life, I think the role is always the same.”
All the celebrities have high profiles and are all successful in their own careers, but the audience has an opportunity to see another side of them through their cooking.
“It's absolutely humbling because if you think about this amazing group of 10, they have in some way, contributed something valuable to the Australian culture and to the Australian pop culture in general. Five gold medals from Ian Thorpe and 13 goals in the World Cup for soccer from Archie and the first Australian designer to be asked to show a Paris Fashion Week,” Mel said.
“I mean, these are things that they have achieved the pinnacle of what humans can achieve in their own individual careers. And for them to walk into the kitchen and trust us to set the challenges and set the pace, it was a very humbling experience. And we're very thrilled to have such national treasures in the MasterChef kitchen with us.”
Knowing the immense pressure and difficulty required to be on the show, Mel revealed that if the tables were turned, there is no way she would join Celebrity MasterChef as a contestant.
“Hell no! Hell no! Oh, my gosh, no,” she laughed. “I love to know where all the cards are kept and where all the surprises are going to be. I'm definitely happy where I am in that kitchen.”
Despite the hardships faced in the MasterChef kitchen, there is a high reward for all the celebrities where they have the ability to learn, develop new skills and prove that they do have what it takes.
“I think there's something magical about the MasterChef kitchen, it doesn't matter who you are, you walk through those doors and you stand behind that kitchen bench and just all caution is thrown out the window.
“You’re really put in a place where anything is possible, and it's all up to you. So I think no matter who you are, everyone gives it their all and we really have such respect and awe for what people give in that kitchen.”
Much like MasterChef Australia, the celebrities will bring a refreshing, fun and interesting take on the show where audiences will be able to learn not just about cooking, but about their personalities as well.
“The viewers can expect to be blown away by the calibre of talent, but also humility and good humour that these celebrities exhibit. Each and every one of them truly deserves to be called a celebrity in their own right, if that's something that you take currency in, because they have achieved such an exceptional amount already in their lives,” Mel said.
“But to see how they throw themselves into every single challenge with such good spirit knowing that if they win, they're winning money for their chosen charity and a charity that means a lot to them. It's such good fun to watch, but there's also a lot of heart behind it as well.”