Network Ten has announced that the three co-hosts of its longstanding reality hit Masterchef — George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan — will be leaving the show after 11 seasons, just one week after Calombaris was fined for underpaying employees $7.8 million in wages and super.
The channel’s official Masterchef Twitter handle broke the news on Tuesday.
After 11 sensational seasons, we bid a fond farewell to our judges – Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris. Thank you for being a part of this remarkable #MasterChefAU legacy and helping make the culinary dreams of everyday home cooks come true! pic.twitter.com/uG0A3ec8jI
— MasterChef Australia (@masterchefau) July 23, 2019
A statement from Ten CEO Paul Anderson blamed commercial reasons for the shock departures.
“Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George,” he said.
“Across 11 sensational seasons, MasterChef Australia has established itself as one of the most popular and respected cooking television series around the world. For more than a decade, the iconic series has shaped and driven the Australian public’s passion for food and cooking, delivered iconic television moments, and made the culinary dreams of everyday home cooks come true.
“Australia is full of remarkable cooking talent and we can’t wait to introduce another group – and the next generation of exceptional judges – in season 12 of MasterChef Australia next year.”
Read more: Here’s what George Calombaris and the Masterchef judges were demanding from Network 10
The announcement comes just one week after Calombaris was found by Fair Work Australia to have underpaid workers by $7.8 million.
On Monday, sponsor Tourism WA dropped Calombaris from its current advertising campaign.
A petition started by trade union Hospo Voice seeking Calombaris’ removal from the show had gained over 25,000 signatures at the time of writing.
A Network Ten spokesperson previously said Calombaris had the channel’s “support”.
Business Insider Australia has sought further comment from Ten about whether the departures are related to the Calombaris scandal.
Suisse Wellness — which still has pictures of Calombaris as a brand representative on its website at the time of writing — has also been approached for comment.