Masterchef Australia enters its 16th season in 2024, with a whole new flock of passionate home cooks vying for the $250k prize. There was some doubt about who’d be hosting, though, following the shock passing of Jock Zonfrillo at age 46 last year.
Now we have some answers. Fourth season winner Andy Allen, who’s been a judge since 2020, is sticking around. Melissa Leong, a host since 2019, is stepping down. She’s staying on with Network 10 to host spin-off series Dessert Masters alongside Swiss-French pastry chef Amaury Guichon.
Joining Allen on Masterchef are three brand new judges: food writer Sofia Levin, season one runner-up Poh Ling Yeow, and French-born celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.
Save 20% when you buy two or more Broadsheet books. Order now to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.SHOP NOW
Who is Sofia Levin?
Sofia Levin is a celebrated Melbourne-based journalist and host who’s been writing about food since 2013, for Broadsheet, Lonely Planet, the Guardian, the Age and other publications. We’re big fans. Here are some of our favourite Sofia Levin articles:
• Opinion: Is Burrata Actually Boring?
• I Can’t Stop Thinking About: Phed Mark’s Pad Krapao
• Nornie Bero’s New Cookbook Is Another Chapter in Her Quest To Make Ancient Australian Ingredients Everyday-Use
• Opinion: A Love Letter to Melbourne
In March 2021 Levin launched The Seasoned Traveller, a website and newsletter that celebrates cultural diversity through food and encourages readers to #eatcuriously. She’s also appeared on TV shows like Postcards and The Cook Up with Adam Liaw (and in a few Broadsheet videos). On a lighter note, her red toy poodle Jinkee is about twice as famous as her, if you judge solely by Instagram followers.
“The first season of Masterchef Australia aired the same year I started writing about food,” Levin says. “By the time I graduated from journalism, I was sharing lesser-known food stories while the show was exposing the nation to cuisines and cultures they had never considered before. Becoming a judge on Masterchef feels like two parallel paths converging, and I’m giddy with excitement at the people I get to stand beside.”
Who is Jean-Christophe Novelli?
Jean-Christophe Novelli is a French-born chef who moved to the UK in 1983, winning four Michelin stars at Gordleton Mill before opening his first restaurant, Maison Novelli, in 1997. In the 20 years since, he’s owned restaurants in the UK, France and South Africa, published cookbooks and set up a cooking school.
“Fostering culinary talent is something I have cared about for many years, and it is a passion I am excited to share in the Masterchef kitchen,” he says. “Australian cuisine has a remarkable reputation on the world stage, and it will be a great privilege to meet and mentor the country’s top home cooks on their journeys to greatness.”
Why did Melissa Leong leave Masterchef Australia?
Melissa Leong is yet to announce why she left the show, though a Network 10 spokesperson dropped a hint to the Australian Financial Review: “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.”
Leong is co-hosting the latter spin-off with pastry chef Amaury Guichon, which premieres on November 12, 2023. The duo has already signed on for the show’s second season, airing in 2024.
“Over the past four years, Masterchef Australia has infused my life with something truly magical,” Leong says. “It’s provided me with life-changing experiences that have given me the courage to continue to put myself outside of my comfort zone. It’s 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.”
What’s the prize money for Masterchef Australia 2024?
The winner of this year’s show will receive the usual $250,000.
When does season 16 of Masterchef start?
Network 10 has not announced a date yet.