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Former MasterChef judge George Calombaris returns to the spotlight in new cooking competition

Former MasterChef judge George Calombaris returns to the spotlight in new cooking competition

George Calombaris slipped from the spotlight when he departed MasterChef Australia in 2019. 

But the chef is back in a new public cooking competition – albeit one that won’t be televised. 

The 42-year-old is taking part in a barbeque challenge at Ocean Eight winery on the Mornington Peninsula on January 24, The Daily Telegraph reported on Sunday. 

New gig: George Calombaris (pictured) slipped from the spotlight when he departed MasterChef Australia in 2019. But the chef is back in a new public cooking competition – albeit one that won’t be televised

He will cook off against chef Jerry Mai, who is the owner of restaurants Annam, Bia Hoi and Pho Nom in a ‘Greece vs Vietnam’ battle.  

Last year, George made headlines after he was found to have underpaid his restaurant staff by nearly $8 million.

The former TV star was fined $2000,000 for underplaying 515 staff between 2011 and 2017 and will have his business audited for the next three years.

Just eat it: The 42-year-old is taking part in a barbeque challenge at Ocean Eight winery on the Mornington Peninsula on January 24, The Daily Telegraph reported on Sunday

Just eat it: The 42-year-old is taking part in a barbeque challenge at Ocean Eight winery on the Mornington Peninsula on January 24, The Daily Telegraph reported on Sunday

He was also axed alongside veteran MasterChef co-judges Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston amid a pay dispute. 

‘Despite months of negotiations, Ten has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George,’ Ten’s CEO Paul Anderson said in a statement in July 2019.

New judges Melissa Leong, Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo took over the spots, leading to a blockbuster 2020 for the series. 

Back then: George was also axed from MasterChef in 2019 alongside veteran MasterChef co-judges Gary Mehigan (left) and Matt Preston(right)  amid a pay dispute

Back then: George was also axed from MasterChef in 2019 alongside veteran MasterChef co-judges Gary Mehigan (left) and Matt Preston(right)  amid a pay dispute

The Channel Ten cooking show was voted the most popular reality series in the world by the Global TV Demand Awards earlier this month. 

The result comes from global demand data collected from January 1 to December 31, 2020, according to the website.

MasterChef Australia also won the AACTA Award Best Reality Program back in November. 

Winners! New judges Melissa Leong (centre), Andy Allen (right) and Jock Zonfrillo (left) took over the spots, leading to a blockbuster 2020 for the series

 Winners! New judges Melissa Leong (centre), Andy Allen (right) and Jock Zonfrillo (left) took over the spots, leading to a blockbuster 2020 for the series

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