For Sofia, her journey to becoming a MasterChef judge was one of excitement, bringing to fruition her almost 15-year-long career writing about her love of food.
"The first season of MasterChef Australia aired the same year I started writing about food. By the time I graduated from journalism, I was sharing lesser-known food stories, while the show was exposing the nation to cuisines and cultures they had neer considered before. Becoming a judge on MasterChef feels like two parallel paths converging, and I am giddy with excitement at the people I get to stand beside."
Speaking of one of those people, Andy, Sofia, and Poh will be completed by Jean-Christophe, who knows exactly what it takes to get the best out of aspiring chefs.
"Fostering culinary talent is something I have cared about for many years, and it is a passion I am excited to share in the MasterChef kitchen. Australian cuisine has a remarkable reputation on the world stage, and it will be a great privilege to meet and mentor the country's top home cooks on their journey to greatness."
Reflecting upon the loss of Jock, and returning to judge without him by his side in 2024, Andy described his decision to return as one made with great consideration.
"MasterChef Australia has been part of my life for over a decade. It gave me a pathway into the industry and led me to a career that I'm forever grateful for. After an extremely difficult year in 2023, and upon reflection, the decision to return to the series is not one I took lightly."
"But there is something special in the MasterChef Australia kitchen, and it feels right to come back to work with the amazing production team and to play my role in seeing the contestants do as I have done," he added.
"2024 will be the start of a new chapter, and it will be surreal - yet brilliant - to share this moment with my fellow judges, Poh, Sofia, and Jean-Chrostophe."
Sadly for fans, Melissa Leong will not be returning, instead investing her efforts in the highly anticipated MasterChef spin-off series Dessert Masters which premiered on November 12th, 2023.
"Over the past four years, MasterChef Australia has infused my 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," she shared in an official media release.
“It is with great enthusiasm and warmth that I welcome new faces Sofia, Poh, and Jean-Christophe, to this very special family, I know they will make it theirs in their own special way, as we did," she continued.
“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].”
Taking to her Instagram to further clarify her decision to move on from MasterChef, Melissa unpacked the "confusion and chaos" circulating around her sudden departure.
"This is a shift 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...and what could be better than that?!"
WATCH NOW: MasterChef's Andy Allen dotes on Poh's 'technically perfect' cake. Article continues after video.
Also taking to Instagram shortly after the new judging lineup was announced was Jock Zonfrillo's widow Lauren Fried, who shared an emotional statement on her late husband's account.
"This would make Jock immensely happy - @andyallencooks unexpectedly came into our life 4 years ago. He quickly became a best mate to Jock, shared a passion for food and fun, and was someone who cared deeply for our family," the mother of two wrote.
"Andy walked back into the MasterChef Kitchen to film his segment for Jock’s tribute show 7 months ago, literally only hours after I called him to tell him the news. He did that for Ava and I, for Jock, and as a gift for our little ones to watch in the future. I see now that it was an enormous, and possibly unfair, request I made of him. He did it without hesitation."
To see @andyallencooks heading back into the Masterchef Kitchen now, stronger, with some shit life lessons learnt way too early, and with three new talented and kind Judges would make him super proud. I think he’d say something like ‘Mate, that kitchen is greater with you in it.’"
The 46-year-old then went on to congratulate the new judges on their new gig.
"This is a group of people who respect the privilege of being part of such an extraordinary show, they know they’re stronger together than as individuals, and they want to nurture contestants in turning their dream of food as a career into reality," she wrote.
"You all have my absolute support - all I ask is that you continue to take the piss out of Andy, make him coffees that are so strong he walks onto set shaking, take him for a round of golf to let off some steam and that you beat him in any cook-offs."
"Let’s make 2024 the best season of @masterchefau yet - get to know the Judges, support the contestants, and keep cooking! Loz," she finished her post.
Who are the guest judges on MasterChef Australia 2024?
Beloved British chef and television personality Jamie Oliver is set to make his return down under for season 16 of MasterChef Australia.
The 48-year-old has been a fan favourite guest judge in previous seasons of the show and is sure to bring the heat with whatever challenges he plates up for the hopeful contestants in 2024 across a two-week stint - the longest of any guest judge in MasterChef Australia history.
Reflecting upon his return as a guest judge, the father of five said he was "very happy" to be asked back once more.
"Returning to the MasterChef kitchen and spending time in Australia makes me very happy. I think MasterChef Australia is the best food show in the world - amazing production values and an incredible story of transformation," he shared.
"I love seeing how the contestants constantly surprise themselves about what they can achieve. More than that, MasterChef connects Aussies to food and the joy of cooking and that can only be a positive thing."