Melissa Leong has spoken out about the “chaos” and “confusion” surrounding her sudden MasterChef Australia departure, and has revealed why she left the popular cooking show.
The former judge of the Ten TV show, who joined the series’ judging panel in 2020 with Andy Allen and the late Jock Zonfrillo, posted a second statement on Instagram after it was revealed on Monday that she would not be returning to the 2024 season.
“I get that there is going to be a bit of confusion and chaos about the ‘why’ of it all right now. I’m here and happy to clear that up, because negative tropes draped around women who achieve something is boring, and frankly we are all better than that,” she shared.
“This is a shift I embrace with joy. One that allows everyone involved, to expand. To put it plainly, I’m very fortunate to continue to be a key part of [MasterChef], yet have the space to evolve my career.
“In effect, I get to have my cake and eat it too … and what could be better than that?!”
Earlier, the popular food critic thanked Channel 10 for its continued support while also revealing she was not axed from the show as reported, but rather was “stepping away” from the programme on her own terms.
“My time as co-host and judge on @MasterChefAU has been a great gift. To have been given the opportunity to learn and grow — and now to be given the vote of confidence to expand and evolve the MasterChef universe is huge!” Leong wrote in the caption of a Season 2 promotional picture of Dessert Masters Australia, which she will co-host with pastry chef Amaury Guichon.
“Stepping away from the main show and into #DessertMastersAU alongside the extraordinary @AmauryGuichon, is yet another sweet present indeed.”
“It is with great warmth and enthusiasm that I wish this new line-up of judges and hosts all the best in making it theirs, and big love to @andyallencooks for leading the way,” Leong added.
“The changing of the guard is one I always planned to embrace, and I’m so glad to do that, on my terms, today.”
Leong added she was “excited” for what was around the corner because she has been “working on behind-the-scenes” projects that she can’t wait to share with her followers.
“My gratitude to our audience for all your support, can’t wait for you to see the new show. Love and respect always,” she concluded.
Leong’s Instagram post comes a day after the Australian Financial Review reported she was axed from the series, just weeks before filming was set to start on season 16.
A show insider told the outlet Leong “was informed she would not appear in the next season earlier this month”, and “pre-production of the new season, which will air next year, has already commenced with new judges”.
Channel 10 has since released a statement regarding her shock departure, in which they informed people that Leong will still be a member of the MasterChef family.
“Melissa Leong remains a key member of the MasterChef Australia family. Melissa is set to return for a second season of Dessert Masters in 2024, alongside fellow judge and pastry prodigy Amaury Guichon,” the statement reads.
“Next year, MasterChef Australia and Dessert Masters will air back to back, therefore each show needs its own distinct style and personality and its own unique hosting team.”