It’s the first time in the franchise’s history that a dessert-focused spin-off has been commissioned, but MasterChef Australia: Dessert Masters has already proven to be a sweet success in just a few weeks.
“It’s not lost on me that that does not happen often,” Leong recently told Missing Perspectives before the season premiered. “We haven’t even gone to air and they’ve already commissioned a season 2. That’s a vote of confidence from Channel 10 that they loved it, and I hope that the audience loves it as well.”
Over the past few weeks, Leong has received plenty of media attention after it was announced she won’t be returning to the main MasterChef series in 2024 as a judge, but will continue as a judge on Dessert Masters. Co-star Andy Allen is set to return to MasterChef, with new judges Poh Ling Yeow, Sofia Levin and Jean-Christophe Novelli added to the lineup. It comes after judge Jock Zonfrillo’s death earlier this year.
Headlines and social media comments have speculated that Leong was ‘dumped’, ‘axed’ and ‘fired’ from the cooking show for various reasons, despite Leong saying on social media that the change was “on my terms”.
In 2024, Leong will not only be a part of the second season of Dessert Masters but will star in SBS documentary series, The Hospital: In The Deep End alongside actor Samuel Johnson and Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis. Leong said what many people don’t realise is that the filming of the main MasterChef series takes several months, and the changes to her schedule will allow her to pursue other passions, including more travel.
“Another great part of Dessert Masters is that I now have the capacity to travel a little bit more than I have done in the last couple of years,” she said. "MasterChef, of course, is a marathon to film. So, to be given the licence to travel again in a more extended capacity is also a real blessing.”
Dessert Masters features an incredibly impressive lineup of 10 established dessert chefs including Kirsten Tibballs, Reynold Poernomo, Anna Polyviou, Adriano Zumbo, Kay-Lene Tan, Jess Liemantara, Morgan Hipworth, Andy Bowdy, Rhiann Mead and Gareth Whitton. As the remaining contestants continue competing for the chance to win $100,000, they also showcase an array of delectable pastries and other desserts for Australia to drool over.
While MasterChef has been around since 1990 in Britain, and was then adapted to an Aussie version in 2009, it’s the first time the franchise has a spin-off dedicated to delicious sweet treats. According to Leong, a show focusing on the course that’s usually the final one we consume at a sit-down dinner was an absolute no-brainer.
“Desserts make complete sense because they inspire awe. They are just such beauty to behold as well, and then the way that they are creatively conceived and executed – it’s just a wonder to watch,” she said. “Because it is art, science, mathematics, architecture, engineering.
“It's so many different things to create one dish that's here for a second and gone the next. I mean, that's a pretty sexy proposition to TV.”
Beyond the food itself, Leong highlighted that the warm, onscreen dynamics between the cast will also melt viewers’ hearts. While each of the contestants are established chefs in their own right, some friendly competition is matched with a beautiful bond, stemming from a shared vision to inspire and entertain through food.
“It’s not just the individual personalities, it's also the beautiful friendships that form and that's something that I'm so proud of across the MasterChef universe,” said Leong.
“Contestants bonding, learning from one another, supporting each other and cheering each other on – that is evergreen, that's never going to go away.”
MasterChef: Dessert Masters airs Sunday to Tuesday at 7:30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play.