Written by Zoë Holloway, April 28, 2016

It’s rare that attached-at-the-hip MasterChef judges George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan, and Matt Preston aren’t found together on the bustling set of their world-renowned cooking show, but it does happen. One such occasion is when the boys are getting ready for a day of filming, where the front men were only too happy to chat with OK! about they key ingredients to friendship and food…

Our Judges are gearing up for a season of extraordinary cooking! #MasterChefAU premieres 7.30 Sunday on TEN.

A photo posted by MasterChef Australia (@masterchefau) on

GARY MEHIGAN

What can we expect from season eight?

There’s lots of interaction this year, we did a week’s worth of Hestin [Blumenthal] Pop-Ups… the challenges are amazing. I’m hoping viewers will click back in and go, ‘That’s the MasterChef we love’.

What do you think sets MasterChef apart from other cooking shows?

I think that what we realise is that the food has to be the champion. It’s the opposite to how other shows work where you pick the characters and get the rest later on as a by-product. It’s also much more personal and we mentor and guide them rather than bash them down all the time.

Do you hang out with Matt and George when MasterChef isn’t filming?

Yeah, our families get together fairly regularly. I think people are surprised – like when George and I met up once at a café in South Yarra people were like, ‘Why do you hang out with each other?’ Well, he’s kind of a nice bloke! [laughs]

GEORGE CALOMBARIS

How have you three judges evolved over the course of show’s eight season run?

My English language has definitely gotten better! [laughs] Matt’s hair has gotten shorter, Gary is fighting fit at the moment… But we’re still three blokes who love food, we are inspired by it.

Do you have any backstage requests?

I’m a bit of a clean freak, so if the bathroom is dirty I lose my crap! That’s my thing, and I’m very passionate about it.

What’s your strangest fan encounter?

A lady asking me to sign her breasts! Let’s just say it didn’t happen.

Your children, James, 5, and Michaela, 3, are still young, do have feel like you’ve missed out on anything with them while doing MasterChef?

There will always be some moments that I will miss out on, but I make the moments count when we are together. They’re part of dad’s life, they’re part of the restaurants, they know them, they tear around them.

A video posted by Matt Preston (@mattscravat) on

MATT PRESTON

Can you tell us a little about this year’s contestants?

This year, I think if you’re looking for a difference, it’s a strength in the male cooks, and they are strong in different ways – not just in terms of meat – strong in terms of seafood and working with recipes.

What do you enjoy about working with Gary and George?

We’ve known each other forever – I’ve known the guys for 10 years. Embarrassingly at times we’re like an old married couples – finishing each other’s sentences! But that’s what makes filming the show so great.

Who is the most competitive out of you three?

[laughs] George – he’s the most competitive man in the world! Absolutely! I used to play tennis with George and beat him, which would make him very angry! We are also competitive with our cookbooks. But the great joke is that, when it comes to which cookbooks our partners use – Gary will come home and find his partner cooking from mine, George will come home and find his wife cooking from Gary’s and I’ll come home and find my wife making George’s flatbread and not my recipe for it!

Have you guys made a pact that if one of you doesn’t sign up to the show again, none of you will?

Anything that would majorly change the dynamics [is when we’d step away], so obviously if the boys decided to bail, then yeah that would totally change things. Even when one of us is sick and we have bump up our lines and we feel uncomfortable that we’re doing that.

Have you heard anything about which season will be the show’s last?

The thing about TV is you always treat every single season like it’s going to be the last and you enjoy it to the full. TV unlike a dog is not necessarily something you can rely on.

Read more about George, Matt and Gary’s time on the show in this week’s issue of OK!

MasterChef premieres 7:30 Sunday night on TEN.

 

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