Meet the experts adding spice to the 2024 season of MasterChef Australia

Cooking up some new judges!
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In 2024, MasterChef Australia is entering its 16th season and this year the show has a new look.

Former judge Melissa Leong departed the MasterChef kitchen following the 2023 season due to scheduling conflicts for her new projects, but not before appearing as a judge on the MasterChef spinoff show, Dessert Masters.

Tragically, judge Jock Zonfrillo passed away early last year, just prior to the 2023 season’s launch. Andy Allen remains the only judge returning from last year and he is carrying on the legacy of his late-friend.

Below, Woman’s Day chronicles everything to know about the new MasterChef judges for 2024.

Image: Channel 10

Sofia Levin

Melbourne-based culinary journalist Sofia Levin has certainly made waves in the Australian food industry. Since 2013 she’s been sharing her insights and witty thoughts on all things food for publications like Lonely Planet, The Guardian and The Age.

In 2021 she launched a food blog, Seasoned Traveller, that encourages readers to “eat curiously”.

“The first season of MasterChef Australia aired the same year that I started writing about food,” says the 35-year-old. “Becoming a judge on MasterChef feels like two parallel paths converging, and I’m giddy with excitement at the people that I get to stand beside.”

Image: Channel 10

Jamie Oliver

There aren’t many people who are unaware of Jamie Oliver‘s career as a successful TV chef and cookbook author. This season, the 48-year-old restaurateur will set a MasterChef record as he lends a helping hand as part of an epic two-week-long guest appearance – the biggest cameo a chef has ever had in the MasterChef Australia kitchen.

“Returning to MasterChef and spending time in Australia makes me very happy,” he says.

“I think that it’s the best food show in the world.

“I love seeing how the contestants constantly surprise themselves with what they can achieve.”

Image: Channel 10

Andy Allen

Returning judge Andy Allen is another former contestant who has found success as a restaurateur, television presenter and cookbook author. For this season’s hopefuls, the quickest way to win Andy’s favour is by cooking with seafood!

“My earliest memories of cooking were going to the beach or fishing or spear-fishing, with my family coming back and cooking up the catch, and it really did open my eyes to what food could be,” says the 35-year-old, who won season four in 2012.

But they better not leave a mess behind, as that’s his pet peeve in the kitchen! “There’s no time for that. It makes everything more difficult.”

Image: Channel 10

Poh Ling Yeow

As the runner-up in season one of MasterChef, 50-year-old Poh Ling Yeow is looking forward to being on the opposite side of the bench this year.

“Talk about a thrilling, full-circle moment. MasterChef is where my story began, so it feels like coming home,” she says. “A big part of me will always be standing on the other side with the contestants and I hope that when they look to me, they see proof you don’t have to win to win.”

Since appearing on the show, the cook has carved out a successful career in the food industry, hosting multiple TV programs, publishing cookbooks and running a popular market stall in Adelaide.

Image: Channel 10

Jean-Christophe Novelli

French-born chef Jean-Christophe moved to the UK back in 1983, where he won the first of four Michelin stars while at Gordleton Mill before opening his own restaurant, Maison Novelli, in 1996.

Since then, he has owned several other restaurants around the globe, published several cookbooks and even started his own cooking school. So, it’s no surprise that he hopes to impart his wisdom to the next set of MasterChef contestants.

“Fostering culinary talent is what I have cared about for many years, and it’s a passion that I’m excited to share in the MasterChef kitchen,” says the 63-year-old.

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