‘All Our Voices Matter’: Melissa Leong Talks Logie Nominations, Diversity And MasterChef Fans & Faves

Melissa Leong has been nominated for a Gold Logie for ‘Most Popular Personality’ and silver for ‘Most Popular Presenter’, and if anyone is deserving of a win, it’s her.

With an extensive career in food and media, Mel has worked her way up and earnt her place as a much-loved judge of MasterChef, contributing elegance, intelligence and compassion to all the contestants and the amazing food they create.

In an interview with 10 play, Mel admitted that she still can’t quite believe she's been nominated.

“I think it's a little surreal, a little bit strange, but definitely welcome. It's been a crazy couple of years on this MasterChef ride and it feels lovely to know that the audience has loved the experience as much as Jock, Andy and I have had making it.”

Mel reflected on the beginning of her journey, when the idea of her being a MasterChef judge was put out there.

“There was a piece that a wonderful food journalist, Dani Valent, wrote a couple of years ago when the announcement of the three former judges stepping down happened, speculating on who would fill their shoes.

“I was on the list, and I remember making a post on Instagram saying, “I wear my own shoes. It's very nice to be thought of in that regard, but I don't think that's something I would do,’ then fast forward a couple of years,” she laughed. “It's always a testament to the fact that we can be wrong, and we can be surprised by life.”

When the Logies announced the nominations for 2022, Mel was in Tasmania filming for MasterChef with fellow judges, Jock and Andy.

“They were very excited for me and very congratulatory. It's a nice environment to be in when everybody's happy for each other. All together, we have four nominations as a show and that's just a tremendous, cathartic moment for everybody involved in the show, because we have an incredible crew, we have an amazing production company, and we all work so hard in our individual departments to do what we do. So, to see it come together that way is always a wonderful thing.”

If Mel wins the Gold Logie, not only will that be a massive accomplishment for her, but it’ll be a huge step forward, making her the first woman of colour to take the win.

“I haven’t even begun to process what that would mean. It would be a wonderful thing, not just for me, but for so many people out there. And not just people who look like me or have my background, but it’s a signal to every Australian of every walk of life to know that it's possible to be celebrated within this country as they show that all of our stories and all of our voices matter.

“We're all the better for sharing every single part of who we are as a nation, both ancient and new. And I think it's nice to be part of the conversation about us all moving forward together.”

MasterChef Australia was nominated for ‘Most Popular Reality Program’ and ‘Most Outstanding Reality Program’, and Mel reveals why she thinks, after so many years, the show is still such a success.

"We celebrate the stories of people through the lens of food, and we learn about people's culture, their families, and why food is so meaningful to them. It always comes back to the food and the story that the food tells, and I think that's an evergreen proposition, something that will never tire.

“So that's why it's successful. Of course, we are very grateful that there's a lot of attention paid to us as judges, but really, we can come and go. What will remain is the food."

During Fans & Faves, Mel said that the dynamic of having half returning contestants and half new was exceedingly beneficial.

“It was a wonderful dynamic and really fascinating to watch. Both sides of the equation contributed a lot; for the returning contestants, they were able to mentor the new contestants and communicate that it was going to be okay, how challenges work and just provide that support.

“The new contestants really brought a sense of energy and joy and reminded the returning contestants just what it feels like to fall in love with food for the first time. Both sides of the equation contributed something extraordinary, and the dynamic really resulted in some fantastic food.”

Guest chef Rick Stein made an appearance on the season this year and Mel was most excited to meet him.

"Rick has always been such a wonderful chronicler of food experiences. He's always articulated the wonder of travel and discovering culture through food in the most beautiful way and for such a long time on screens all over the world. It's a real honor to have someone in the room that I really have admired for so long in terms of just being able to convey such love and joy of food and travel so elegantly.”

On her MasterChef journey, Mel has learnt so much more about food and believes she will never stop.

“I'm always learning so much from Jock and Andy, their perspectives on food are quite different. Watching amazing home cooks do what they do, and how they generate flavor in their own way and how that's been passed on through family - there's always something new and different to learn every single day.

“That's the wonder of this job and the day I don't need to learn any more, is the day I'll probably die. It's just a wonderful job to be open to taking on the perspectives of others and the lessons that they can teach you.”

VOTE FOR MELISSA LEONG TO WIN and tune in to watch the Logie Awards on Sunday 19th June on Channel Nine.