13/04/2020 9:25 PM AEST | Updated 27/04/2020 1:02 PM AEST

Filming With MasterChef Australia's New Judges: 'It Took A While To Warm Up' Says Contestant

Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo have replaced George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston as judges.

Having three new judges on ‘MasterChef Australia: Back To Win’ has not come without its challenges according to one of the reality show’s contestants.

This year familiar faces have returned to compete on the cooking show, while Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo have replaced George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston as judges.

Season seven’s dessert king, Reynold Poernomo, admitted the connection with the new panel wasn’t instant. 

“With the new judges I’ll be honest, at first it took me a while to warm up,” the 26-year-old told HuffPost Australia. “It did feel very weird, it’s not the usual three.”

Channel 10
MasterChef Australia: Back To Win judges Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen

“But after hearing feedback after feedback from John, Andy and Melissa, it was very insightful.” 

Reynold said it was an opportunity to create a new impression to the judges, and that helped him and his co-stars evolve as chefs. 

“What I love about it is we get to have a fresh impression in front of these guys and we get to know them, and they’re trying to get to know us as well,” explained Reynold.

“So it’s an amazing platform for us to showcase who we are and the critique we get is very constructive. It helps us grow as well.” 

Channel 10
MasterChef Australia's Reynold Poernomo

In October Channel Ten announced its new lineup of ‘MasterChef’ judges, after Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston’s contracts weren’t renewed following 11 years with the franchise. 

Restaurant owner and chef Jock Zonfrillo, food writer Melissa Leong and ‘MasterChef’ season four winner Andy Allen were announced as the new judges.

According to former Studio 10 producer Rob McKnight, “Channel Ten are very smart in what they’ve done with this year’s MasterChef”. 

“They haven’t just relied on the new judges. Using all our old favourites, they’re bringing in stunt casting like Gordon Ramsay, Katy Perry. So the judges have a bit of a buffer.”

TV Blackbox founder McKnight said it won’t be known until the following season whether audiences are receptive to the judges.  

“This season is not about them. It’s not been sold on the judges, it’s been sold on Poh and people like her who are coming back to win. 

“So they [the judges] get a bit of a free pass this year and they actually get a chance for us to warm to them without the whole thing being reliant on them.”

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