MasterChef fans were left shocked this week when it was announced all three judges would be leaving the show.
And now Matt Preston has opened up on what really happened – and the surprising way he first found out his and his fellow co-stars George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan’s jobs had been terminated.
Speaking in an exclusive chat with the Daily Telegraph, the 57-year-old revealed he found out his contract had finally been terminated via social media site Instagram – after the judges struggled to agree on terms with Network Ten.
However, he reiterated that money did not come into the final decision.
“We were happy with what was being offered, in fact we had accepted Ten’s financial offer to make the next series of MasterChef,” he told the news outlet. “We just failed to agree on the other terms.”
And Preston did not attempt to defend his colleague Calombaris in the interview, who has been at the centre of controversy for underpaying staff $7.8 million at establishments including Hellenic Republic, The Press Club and Gazi, prompting call for him to be fired from the hit show.
“There’s obviously a problem with the underpaying of some of the most vulnerable workers in Australian society, whether they are migrants, whether they are young people or casual. There’s no excuse for that,” Preston told the news outlet.
He insisted that he respects Ten’s decision and hopes the show will continue to succeed, as a lot of the crew working on it had become close to the trio over the years they’d been working there.
It comes after the popular judge, who appeared on the Channel 10 cooking show for 11 seasons, announced he will be taking on a radio role next week.
Taking to social media on Thursday, Preston announced his appearance on ABC Melbourne‘s breakfast show from Monday onwards alongside host Jacinta Parsons.
“Looking forward to guesting on #ABCMelbourne’s breakfast show next week with @jacintaparsons,” he wrote on Instagram.
“We’ll be on air from 5.30am, Monday-Friday.”
The announcement comes just days after Channel 10 confirmed the trio would not be returning as judges in 2020 after after failing to reach a contractual decision.
Following the show’s season 11 finale on Tuesday evening, they all took to social media to explain why they really left the show. Mehigan thanked the fans, contestants and people who work on the show, but denied he was leaving because of money.
View this post on Instagram
To all of our fans ‘thank you’ To the team that makes MasterChef ‘thank you’ and to all of the contestants that we know and love, we are all part of a very exclusive club and what a journey what an experience. To explain: ‘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. The opportunity to work with Matt and George has been a blessing and something I cherish. Working together will continue to be the most important thing for us…..the three musketeers…….🤗 @mattscravat @gcalombaris @masterchefau #masterchefau #foodies #foodiesofinstagram #homecooks #homecooking #masterchef
“It was time to move on, have more free time to explore our own creativity,” he said on Instagram. “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”.
Preston also took to Instagram to confirm he wasn’t returning, but said it wasn’t because he didn’t want to still be part of the show.
View this post on Instagram
Thank you so very much for supporting @masterchefau over the last 11 years. We have loved every single moment. It is however with a heavy heart that I can confirm that season 11 was our last. We were really keen to continue but we were unable to agree to all terms for the new contract. We have enjoyed 11 wonderful years on Masterchef Australia with Network Ten, and I want to take this opportunity to thank Ten for this amazing opportunity and for Network Ten’s backing of this very special show. We have met some beautiful people, discovered and guided some of the brightest up-and-comers in the Australian food scene, worked with the best chefs in the world in front of the camera, and with the TV industry’s finest professionals behind the scenes. And of course, we three judges have formed a lifelong friendship that will live on far beyond the show. I want to take this opportunity to thank you and everyone who has shared our amazing journey with us – especially all those fantastic contestants. I look forward to sharing many more adventures with you in the future. And finally I wish the new judges all the best with the show that we love so much. Thank you all. I don’t want to take any gloss off tonight’s well deserved winner so I will not be making any further comment. Love Matt.
“Thank you so very much for supporting @masterchefau over the last 11 years. We have loved every single moment. It is however with a heavy heart that I can confirm that season 11 was our last,” he wrote. “We were really keen to continue but we were unable to agree to all terms for the new contract.”
He thanked Channel 10 for letting him be part of the show and spoke about mentoring some of the “brightest up-and-comers” in the Australian food scene. He also praised his co-stars.
“And of course, we three judges have formed a lifelong friendship that will live on far beyond the show,” the 57-year-old added. “I look forward to sharing many more adventures with you in the future. And finally I wish the new judges all the best with the show that we love so much.”
And Calombaris, 40, didn’t say he was fired, but claimed he was actually close to signing a new contract.
View this post on Instagram
@masterchefau geez you have warmed our hearts, filled our stomachs and sizzled our souls. To the great contestants of the past 11 years, you ought to be proud. To the incredible @masterchefau team that works so hard to make the best cooking show on earth, we salute you. To our families, friends and teams who have supported us, you freakin’ rock. 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. To the next 3 judges and mentors, we wish you loads of success. To my brothers @mattscravat and @garymehigan: I love you and thank you. Time to take a deep breath and be thankful. With love GC 🧿 xxx
“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.