Gary Mehigan reveals real reason behind his MasterChef departure

Gary Mehigan, pictured with Matt Preston (left) and George Calombaris, reveals why the MasterChef judges really left the show. Source: Getty

MasterChef Australia lost all three of its famous judges last month after Channel 10 failed to secure a contract for season 11 with George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston and while reports at the time claimed the three stars left over a pay dispute, Mehigan has revealed the real reason the trio left the hit cooking show.

Speaking exclusively to the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday, the 52-year-old explained the network didn’t even phone to tell him what had happened, that his axing from MasterChef was “abrupt” and denied it was because of money.

“There’s the ‘three greedy judges’ narrative, then there’s reality,” he told the publication, explaining that along with Calombaris and Preston, he’d previously formed a company that focused on books, podcasts and new TV shows.

The three wanted to continue working on MasterChef but wrap up early in 2020, but Mehigan claimed Channel 10 wanted them to remain contracted until the end of the year.

“We wanted to keep making MasterChef, but we needed space to stretch our legs and do our own thing,” he said, before adding that he was disappointed the trio weren’t able to farewell viewers properly and hand over their judging roles to the yet to be announced new stars.

Mehigan previously broke his silence the day after the shock departure announcement last month, writing on Instagram: “It was time to move on, have more free time to explore our own creativity.

“It was never about the money and never will be about the money. We couldn’t agree on the term of the new contract for 2020 and season 12. Something we felt very strongly about.”

He also thanked his two co-stars and referred to them as “the three musketeers”.

There had previously been calls for Calombaris – who has been at the centre of controversy for underpaying staff $7.8 million at establishments including Hellenic Republic, The Press Club and Gazi – to be fired from the hit show. The hashtag #MasterTheft was trending on Twitter on the day of the finale last month and more than 26,400 signed a petition for the chef to be canned from the show.

Despite this, the 40-year-old also maintained close to signing a new contract.

“We were close to signing a new contract for season 12 however the dates just didn’t align. Channel Ten, thank you for providing us the platform to change the landscape of food worldwide,” he said on Instagram. “To the next 3 judges and mentors, we wish you loads of success.”

The star – who was ordered to pay a massive $200,000 fine for the underpayment of employees – also thanked MasterChef’s contestants, teams and his two co-stars.

MasterChef Australia is set to return in 2020 with three new judges.

Are you a fan of MasterChef? Will you continue watching the show without George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston?

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