Network 10 has announced George Calombaris will not be returning as a judge on MasterChef Australia in 2020, and neither will his co-judges Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan.
Though the move comes after calls for Calombaris to be sacked over his company’s wages scandal, the network has claimed the decision is unrelated, and due to a failure to reach a satisfactory “commercial agreement”.
According to reports all three judges on salaries over $1 million, decided to leave the show after the network refused to increase their pay by more than 40 per cent.
“Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George,” said Chief Executive Officer Paul Anderson.
“We would like to thank Gary, George and Matt for their contribution over the past 11 years.
“MasterChef Australia has always been about ordinary Australians doing extraordinary things for the love of food and we believe it is very important to continue that ethos.
“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.”
It was revealed last week that Calombaris’ company MAdE Establishment had underpaid around 515 stuff over $7.8 million.
As part of an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman, the celebrity chef was ordered to pay a contrition payment of $200,000.
Since the news was made public, over 22,000 people signed a petition calling for Calombaris to be sacked as a judge from MasterChef.
Despite union demands that he be dumped, Network 10 declared their support.
“George and MAdE Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter,” a Network 10 spokeswoman said.
“George has the support of Network 10. We will not be making any further comment.”
Meanwhile on Monday, Calombaris was dropped from a West Australian tourism campaign.
“We’ve paused all of our work with George for now and we’re talking to his management about recouping some of our costs that we’ve paid him,” Tourism WA managing director Brodie Carr told 6PR radio.
The MasterChef Australia season finale airs tonight.