Network Seven has snagged ex-Masterchef judges Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan for a new cooking show – but there's no sign of George Calombaris or Pete Evans

Getty ImagesThe three Masterchef judges.
  • Former Masterchef judges Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan are moving on to the Seven Network to host a cooking show, after departing Network 10. They will join former host of My Kitchen Rules Manu Feildel.
  • Friend and former co-host George Calombaris is not expected to be part of the show, nor will Pete Evans, Manu’s former co-host.
  • The new series, called ‘Plate of Origin’, will feature teams of diverse backgrounds and will “pit cuisine against cuisine” and is set to air in 2020.

There’s a new cooking competition coming to channel Seven and it has two ex-Network Ten Masterchef judges.

Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan are heading over to the Seven Network for a new cooking show with Manu Feildel called ‘Plate Of Origin’ – a poor play on words with rival Nine’s State of Origin NRL series.

The former Masterchef judges will be without their third “musketeer”, former colleague George Calombaris, who earlier this year was embroiled in a wage theft scandal to the tune of $7.8 million. That’s despite the trio claiming the desire to all work together was the most important thing and a factor in their leaving Masterchef.

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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

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The show is being styled as an international cooking competition that will showcase “teams of diverse cultural backgrounds”, pitting “cuisine against cuisine” to see which will “reign supreme”. How exactly one judges the merits of one cuisine over another is entirely unclear.

Pete Evans, Manu’s long-time co-host of My Kitchen Rules (MKR) is expected to stay where he is, with the Seven Network saying it had reimagined the show for 2020. Its upcoming season will be named My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals and five former MKR teams will compete against five new teams. Manu Feildel and Colin Fassnidge will be group mentors while Pete Evans will remain a judge.

Departing Masterchef

Preston, Mehigan and Calombaris all left the Network 10 series in July after 11 seasons. At the time, Network 10 CEO Paul Anderson attributed the departure to an inability to reach a “commercial agreement” which suited them all.

Before all the judges bid farewell to Masterchef, Calombaris – and the restaurant company he founded, Made Establishment – was found to have been underpaying staff $7.8 million in wages and super.

Earlier in October, three new Masterchef judges were announced, Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.

Keeping the Seven Network afloat

Seven Network CEO James Warburton has been making several changes at the company since he jumped on board in August. He axed Seven’s current affairs program Sunday Night and highlighted that the network has to make major changes to its programming, such as targeting new demographics and doing better at launching new shows, the Australian Financial Review reported.

Ahead of Seven Network’s Upfront presentation on Wednesday – an event for advertisers and media buyers where the network announced it’s lineup of shows for 2020 – Warburton said, “We’re very open about the fact that Sunday to Tuesday 7.30pm has been a problem, we’ve had too many poor program failures and we haven’t lived up to our own standards,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“The last quarter we haven’t thrown a punch, and it’s been disappointing.”

In August, the Seven Network reported a loss of $444.4 million. Warburton further added that the network had to make changes to recoup its losses after last year, the SMH reported.

The Seven Network could also be set to lose its top rating spots for the first time in 11 years, with the Nine Network expected to overtake Seven in 2019.

While also announcing some other programming changes, Warburton is clearly counting on cooking shows to draw audiences.

The proof will be in next year’s pudding.

Editor’s note: Business Insider Australia operates as part of Pedestrian Group which is wholly owned by the Nine Network.

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