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Melissa Leong unexpectedly dumped as MasterChef judge

Leong, Allen and Zonfrillo replaced the original line up of judges on MasterChef.

Leong, Allen and Zonfrillo replaced the original line up of judges on MasterChef. Photo: Ten

Melissa Leong has been dumped from her judging duties on MasterChef, replaced by previous winner Poh Ling Yeow and Michelin-starred chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.

But Leong will still feature on a sweeter venture as she leads MasterChef‘s dessert spin-off, MasterChef: Dessert Masters.

The dessert-focused series is coming to Australian screens next month with a jam-packed line-up of audience favourites.

The Australian Financial Review reported on Monday that Leong was only told earlier this month that she wouldn’t be returning to MasterChef.

Channel 10 confirmed the shock decision after those initial reports.

It comes after fellow judge Jock Zonfrillo died unexpectadly in April. Andy Allen will remain as a judge along with Ling Yeow, Novelli and food critic Sofia Levin.

Earlier on Monday, Network 10 announced that the new series would premiere on November 12, with the show hosted by familiar faces Leong and Amaury Guichon.

The spin-off to the network’s popular cooking show was announced last year and it will see Australia’s best dessert and pastry chefs compete in the kitchen.

Affectionately known as the “chocolate guy”, Guichon has amassed a following of millions on social media.

The Cannes-born pastry chef began training when he was just 14, and completed a two-year apprenticeship in Geneva before opening his own pastry school at 17.

More recently, he has appeared on Netflix’s School of Chocolate, as a host, judge and mentor.

MasterChef: Dessert Masters contestants

There are quite a few famous faces appearing on the inaugural season of MasterChef: Dessert Masters, and they all are well established within Australia.

“Audiences will soon be taken on a transformative journey as 10 of Australia’s best pastry chefs create sweet treats beyond our wildest imaginations,” a press release said.

“They’ll whisk it all, each vying to become the competition’s inaugural champion and win $100,000 in prize money.”

Adriano Zumbo, known for his macarons, will be competing against “nine legends” on the show, and while he is well known for his desserts, in a promo he is heard admitting he is a little “nervous”.

MasterChef alums Reynold Poernomo and Jess Liemantara will be vying for the $100,000, alongside award-winning chef Anna Polyviou, who also appeared on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!

Gareth Whitton will be flexing his 15 years of experience, and “chocolate queen” Kirsten Tibballs should be able to keep her cool, as she did win gold at the Pastry Olympics.

Morgan Hipworth, who opened Bistro Morgan when he was 15, will have somewhat of a “full-circle moment” on the show, as he has appeared on Junior MasterChef in the past.

Another young chef, Rhiann Mead, who is the head pastry chef at The Charles, will be competing.

Kay-Lene Tan also boasts an impressive resume, having worked at Tonka and Coda and now as the executive pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton.

And rounding out the 10 contestants is Andy Bowdy, whose 12-layer cake was once replicated by the contestants on MasterChef.

MasterChef: Dessert Masters is produced by EndemolShine Australia.

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