New MasterChef judging panel announced to carry on Jock Zonfrillo’s legacy

Oct 24, 2023
Excitement is brewing for MasterChef Australia Season 16 as it introduces a fresh lineup of judges to continue Jock Zonfrillo's legacy. Source: Getty Images.

In thrilling news for culinary enthusiasts and reality television fans, the iconic MasterChef franchise is set to continue its gastronomic journey with a fresh and dynamic judging panel, aimed at carrying on the legacy left by the late Jock Zonfrillo.

Leading the new team is MasterChef winner turned judge Andy Allen alongside MasterChef alumna Poh Ling Yeow. Food critic and journalist Sofia Levin will also bring her keen taste buds and insightful critique to the table.

Rounding off the quartet is the internationally acclaimed chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, a holder of multiple Michelin stars, promising contestants and viewers an elevated culinary experience.


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Allen said returning for the new season will be “the start of a new chapter” after the “extremely difficult” loss of Zonfrillo.

“MasterChef Australia has been part of my life for over a decade. It gave me a pathway into the industry and led me to a career that I’m forever grateful for. After an extremely difficult year in 2023, and upon reflection, the decision to return to the series is not one I took lightly,” Allen said.

“But there is something special in the MasterChef Australia Kitchen, and it feels right to come back to work with the amazing production team, and to play my role in seeing the contestants do as I have done. 2024 will be the start of a new chapter, and it will be surreal – yet brilliant – to share this moment with my fellow judges, Poh, Sofia and Jean-Christophe.”

As the beloved finalist of MasterChef Australia’s inaugural season, Yeow has been an integral member of the program’s family since its inception.

“Talk about a thrilling, full circle moment. MasterChef Australia is where my food story began, so this feels like coming home. A big part of me will always be standing on the other side with the contestants and I hope when they look to me, they see proof you don’t have to win to win,” Yeow said.

Although Melissa Leong won’t be making a comeback for the upcoming season, the iconic judge is set to co-host Dessert Masters, a MasterChef spin-off show, alongside celebrated pastry chef Amaury Guichon.

“Over the past four years, MasterChef Australia has infused my life with something truly magical. It has provided me with life-changing experiences that have given me the courage to continue to put myself outside of my comfort zone,” she said.

“It is with great enthusiasm and warmth that I welcome new faces Sofia, Poh, and Jean-Christophe, to this very special family, I know they will make it theirs in their own special way, as we did.

“The great honour of growing the MasterChef Australia family with the introduction of Dessert Masters is not lost on me. I relish the sweet opportunity to nurture this special series alongside Amaury.”

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