Things between the pair are said to have reached boiling point after a tense challenge that saw Tessa receive a harsher critique than she had hoped for.
“Tessa put her blood, sweat and tears into this challenge in particular and she didn’t feel that she got the appraisal she deserved from Melissa,” the insider explains.
“She was ropeable and snapped, then she stormed off set and threatened to quit the show.
Melissa followed Tessa backstage to find out what the problem was, but it turned into quite a heated argument.
“Tessa gave her a piece of her mind,” the source says. “Producers had to step in to calm them both down and mediate. It was quite unprecedented behaviour for MasterChef because everyone is usually so professional.”
“It was hard for [the contestants] to take them seriously because they didn’t think there were in the same elite as the old judges,” the source says.
“They considered them as more their equals, rather than people they looked up to and admired, and their behaviour towards them reflected that.”
Previous judges Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston, who starred on the show for 11 consecutive years, had a long time to build up a rapport and reputation with the contestants.
“Most of the contestants have been cooking for just as long as the new judges – some are even more established than them – so they didn’t always respect their comments and would take their feedback with a grain of salt,” the source says.
“They thought they knew better at times and they weren’t afraid to let it be known.”
For more, pick up the latest issue of New Idea. Out Now!