The show’s most recently eliminated contestant Callum Hann has praised the three new judges, saying Melissa Leong in particular is a “revelation for the show”.
While Callum had already met Andy and Jock prior to filming, food critic Mel was an unfamiliar face that he immediately connected with.
“I was already mates with those guys. I think the new person for me was Mel who I hadn’t met prior to filming,” Callum told HuffPost Australia on Wednesday.
“She’s been a revelation for the show. I think having a female presence is awesome. She knows her food and the way that she uses words is incredible.”
Crediting them for the popularity of this season, Callum said the three new judges “are going to give the show a lot of success moving forward”.
“It’s been really popular this year and yes, of course having people like Reynold and Poh coming back on [helps], but I think as well the judges have played a role in that and are doing an amazing job.”
“I love Melissa. She is a bright beacon of light on the show. She is someone we didn’t even know we needed on Australian TV till we got her,” Khanh told HuffPost Australia last month. “We understood why she is needed.”
He said Melissa is not only “unapologetic and strong” and someone who “doesn’t back down” from what she believes in, but also “champions positivity”.
“She’s not about scandal, she’s about championing positivity and I appreciate that and I admire her so much for it.”
This year’s season of ‘MasterChef Australia’ has showcased a diversity of cultures and food, and Melissa’s Singaporean-Chinese heritage has helped play a part in that, according to another contestant Brendan Pang.
“I would say I connected quite well with Melissa given her background and her love of very similar foods to food that I love the most,” said the Mauritian-Chinese contestant, who was known for his delicious dumplings on the show.
“I think in the past five years there’s been a lot of diversity on the show. In my season two years ago, there was a big Asian representation. I think with the addition of Mel as the new judge, it’s been awesome and she’s really helped emphasise that.”
‘MasterChef Australia: Back To Win’ continues on Sunday at 7:30pm on Channel 10.