22/04/2020 1:39 PM AEST | Updated 26/06/2020 5:27 PM AEST

Melissa Leong On Being A MasterChef Australia Judge: 'I Have The Chops To Do It Well'

She's brushed off any criticism she's received alongside fellow new judges, Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo.

Stepping into the shoes of three fan favourite judges is no easy feat, but ’MasterChef Australia’s Melissa Leong is up for the challenge.

The food writer, who’s joined the show alongside Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo, has brushed off any criticism she’s received since the show premiered last week. 

“First and foremost, I take on this job knowing that I have the chops to do it well, otherwise I would not have been asked,” she told HuffPost Australia.

“I take my critical responsibility very seriously, and want to do a job I can stand by and be proud of.” 

Channel 10
MasterChef Australia: Back To Win judge Melissa Leong

Melissa, Andy and Jock have replaced Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston who had 11 years to build a strong rapport with viewers. 

The new judges all attracted mixed reactions on social media after their collective debut last week. It appears the key is to focus on the positives.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we are so grateful for the opportunity to bring what we know to the MasterChef universe,” said Melissa.

“Of course we are aware that sometimes change can be difficult to embrace, but we feel very welcomed by the MasterChef audience, which is a great feeling.” 

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

The proud Singaporean Australian is the show’s first female judge in Australia, and acknowledged her casting indicates some progress in terms of cultural and gender representation on TV.  

“I am aware that my presence signifies a positive step towards diversity in the media landscape and with that comes a responsibility,” she said.

“And while I take it seriously, I’m proud to be just a part of the groundswell; I do not stand alone.

“Together, we represent inclusivity, and a broadening of stories and perspectives, and it’s with pride that I walk forward in great company.” 

This season of the show is called ‘MasterChef: Back To Win’, with 24 previous contestants including Poh Ling Yeow, Hayden Quinn, Reynold Poernomo and Callum Hann returning to the series for another shot at victory.

On Wednesday night’s episode, Melissa will present contestants with her mystery box of ingredients that includes chicken feet. 

MasterChef Australia: Back To Win continues at 7:30pm on Channel 10.