Melissa Leong reflects on shock exit from MasterChef

After four seasons, the 41 year old left the reality cooking competition behind her.
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When Melissa Leong debuted on MasterChef alongside Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo in 2020, the trio remained at the helm for four hugely successful seasons.

After the sudden passing of her colleague and friend Jock in April 2023 – just days before the new season was set to take to the air – it remained unclear whether Andy or Melissa would return to judge the show without him. 

In late October however, Andy confirmed he would be returning as a judge and would be joined by newcomers Poh Ling Yeow, Sofia Levin, and Jean-Christophe Novelli.

WATCH NOW: Melissa Leong on finding strength through adversity.

When the news first broke that she would be taking a step back, Melissa said it was with “great enthusiasm and warmth” that she welcomed in new judges Sofia, Poh, and Jean-Christophe. 

She also reflected upon her time judging MasterChef, noting that the show had infused her life with something “truly magical.”

“It has provided me with life-changing experiences that have given me the courage to continue to put myself outside of my comfort zone.”

Andy is the only continuing MasterChef judge for the 2024 season. (Credit: Channel 10)

She did however confirm that she would be judging the inaugural season of MasterChef spin-off Dessert Masters.

“The great honour of growing the MasterChef Australia family with the introduction of Dessert Masters is not lost on me. I relish the sweet opportunity to nurture this special series alongside Amaury [Guichon].”

Melissa also took to her Instagram at the time to open up about her decision to step back.

“This is a shift that I embrace with joy. One that allows everyone involved, to expand. To put it plainly, I’m very fortunate to continue to be a key part of @masterchefau, yet have the space to evolve my career,” she penned. 

“In effect, I get to have my cake and eat it too….what could be better than that?”

Melissa Leong and Amaury Guichon co-judged MasterChef Dessert Masters. (Credit: Channel 10)

Just weeks later, the food critic announced she would be fronting a surprising new television project on SBS titled The Hospital: In The Deep End. 

She will be joined in the three-part series alongside actor Samuel Johnson and Gardening Australia’s Costa Georgiadis. 

According to the official show synopsis, they will explore the many challenges faced by the public health system in Australia by going behind the scenes in one of the country’s busiest hospitals. 

Melissa will be joined by two familiar faces in her upcoming television project with SBS. (Credit: SBS)

Speaking about her upcoming television project, Melissa shared with news.com.au that she was actually head-hunted to take part due to her own mother’s experience in the public health system. 

“She was a nursing unit manager in the emergency department in Sutherland Hospital for about a decade, and she’s been a nurse since she was 17.”

“So to be given the opportunity to be a deeply unqualified fly on the wall, to get a feel for how much pressure the public health system is under, why would you say no to that?”

The series is set to premiere sometime in 2024.

Melissa is still a member of the MasterChef family. (Credit: Channel Ten)

Melissa is also currently filming season two of Dessert Masters and has even begun dipping her toes into the world of sports broadcasting as a commentator at UFC fights.

Speaking with Perth Now, the 42-year-old described her foray into UFC as “an excercise in saying yes to things that excite you.”

“The technique stuff I’m still learning, but I just started jiu jitsu to better understand MMA, so we’ll see what happens. Who knows where it’s going to take me next!”

She also revealed to the publicaton whether or not she will be tuning into the new season of MasterChef

“I reflect on the last four years of being host and judge of MasterChef with joy, with gratitude and with maximum respect.”

“I think about it every day as something that was a huge part of my life and continues to be a huge part of my life.”

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