Andy Allen on how returning cooks changed the recipe

Channel 10’s MasterChef Australia is back for its 14th season with 12 returning contestants up against 12 everyday home cooks in MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favorites. The new season returned on Easter Monday on 10 and 10 Play.

Judges Jock Zonfrillo, Andy Allen, and Melissa Leong, all returned to challenge contestants and to watch as the Favorites carve out the kitchen against the next batch of hopefuls.

Mediaweek caught up with Andy Allen to talk about the new season. Allen said that with this being the trio’s third season as judges as well as doing Junior MasterChef and Celebrity MasterChefthey are much more comfortable now in their roles.

“We’ve morphed into this beautiful role and we feel so comfortable in what we each bring to the judging table. We complement each other so well and know what our strengths are and weaknesses are. Whatever you do in life, if you’re confident in it, then you are better at it. ”

Fans v Favorites

Fan v Favrouties is a new format for MasterChef Australiaand is only the second true deviation from the classic formula (alongside Back to Win in 2020), Allen said he was initially surprised when he found out about the change.

“I’ve noticed that a couple of other reality shows have done it and I was wondering how this gonna work in the MasterChef kitchen but it worked instantly. It was so crazy to see. When you play sports and play the person who is your biggest opponent or better than you, you just instantly rise to that occasion and that happened with these favorites who came to the kitchen. They’re around people that are cooking for Jock, Mel and myself at such a high level and they just learn from that. It’s very different when you’ve got 24 amateurs, and all they can really learn from is when Jock, Mel, and I give them their feedback. Considering you are constantly around greatness, you are just instantly going to get better. That happens literally in the first week. ”

Allen also said that the returning contestants make a big impact on the narrative of the show, with one, in particular, standing out.

“The favorites we got back are pretty epic. Having three winners that have won the competition and then coming back for a second bite it’s going to be interesting to see if one can take it out again because that’s never been done.

“Especially having Julie Goodwin, it’s gonna make amazing TV. When she came back into the kitchen she was passionate and really wanted to give it her best shot but I feel like it took her a while to actually feel like she belonged there. It was 13 years ago she took them out of title out and she’s been so raw and real, both about her cooking and her emotions. It was riveting, absolutely riveting to be in the room so I feel like it’s going to transform onto the TV pretty well as well. ”

Judging Returning Contestants

Allen’s role amongst the judges is that of the returning contestant (he won the show in 2012), a role that he said took him by surprise with how much that had an impact on his judging.

“It surprised me how much that could actually have an impact in terms of me being able to view these contestants, and what they go through on a daily basis, from what I went through on a daily basis back in 2012. To really be able to notice their emotions, which is a bigger thing than how they are cooking. Back in 2020 when I first was on the show, it probably took me about a third of the way through to kind of realize I’ve seen that before, I felt that before. It’s really become such an easier role to play as that mentor who’s been there and done that. ”


The returning contestants

Allen was aware that there would be questions about his judging returning chef’s food considering his history, but Allen said that it all fell into place in his first season on the show, Back to Winwhich featured all returning contestants.

“That was a big question mark on everyone’s lips. It is the same with these 12 returning contestants in Fans v Faves. Back then I had the respect of those guys before I went into mine MasterChef judging role. The first time that I stood there, tried their food, and gave them feedback, there was just another layer of respect, and it just built over time. All of these favorites that have come back have seen the way I do things over the last three years and it’s been instant. They’ve got a respect for me and I’ve got an immense amount of respect for them.

“It has easy to be honest, that’s a lie actually because it’s really tough telling them when a dish isn’t up to scratch. It’s never an easy thing because you have feelings and emotions and they put so much into it whether they’re a fan or a favorite. Easy is totally the wrong word it’s just been natural. ”


Would he ever return to the kitchen?

With three former winners returning to the show this year as contestants, Mediaweek asked Allen if he ever considered taking a break from judging and re-entering the competition.

“I still love it and sometimes I really want to join in and get back in there. When we do Master Classes I get a bit of that because you’re teaching the guys and that sort of stuff. I’m happy where I am, having the restaurant group doing its thing and being able to do this as a living and being a MasterChef judge is pretty bloody epic. I would much rather the shoes that I’m in now than the daily pressure of trying to find out what the next challenge is and what I’m going to cook and all that stuff that goes through your head, it’s pretty immense. ”

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