MasterChef Australia 2024 judges Andy Allen, Poh Ling Yeow, Sofia Levin and Jean-Christophe Novelli.

MasterChef Australia 2024 judges Andy Allen, Poh Ling Yeow, Sofia Levin and Jean-Christophe Novelli. Photo: Channel 10

'Another full circle moment for me': MasterChef judge Poh Ling Yeow on filming in Hong Kong

The decision to shoot several episodes abroad was particularly special for her after missing out in 2009.

A new judging panel is not the only change coming to MasterChef Australia this year. Channel 10 has revealed that the popular cooking reality show will feature three episodes that have been filmed overseas.

The decision to shoot this multi-episode arc in Hong Kong is particularly special for new judge Poh Ling Yeow, who famously finished as the runner-up behind Julie Goodwin in Season 1 of MasterChef in 2009.

"Hong Kong was another full circle moment for me," Yeow tells Missing Perspectives.

"I got eliminated just before the show went there in Season 1 but it was worth the wait. I’ve left with my mind crazy with inspiration for Chinese food again and missing the possibility of a midnight bowl of beef brisket noodles.”

This season Yeow joins Andy Allen as a judge, and Sofia Levin and Jean-Christophe Novelli have also been added to the lineup. It comes after judge Jock Zonfrillo’s death last year.

Melissa Leong, who was a judge alongside Allen and Zonfrillo since 2020, won’t be returning to the main MasterChef series as a judge, but will continue as a judge on Dessert Masters

In an interview with Missing Perspectives last year, Leong welcomed the casting of the new judges, especially Yeow, a fellow Asian woman.

“There are nuanced perspectives within the Asian diaspora that we want and need to hear and see,” Leong said at the time. “And every time someone new steps up to the plate or that we have a different mix of group dynamic, that's just a thing to celebrate.” 

MasterChef has famously had the ability to explore the beautiful connection between food, culture and identity through diverse cuisines and contestants' back stories. Taking the show overseas to a place like Hong Kong is undoubtedly another chance to showcase a variety of food and a "melting pot of different cultures", as Allen explains.

"I’ve never been to Hong Kong, but I've been really interested in the place for a long time," the TV judge states in a press release. "That’s because I see the city's array of food is off the charts: it’s a melting pot of different cultures, bold flavours, and one-of-a-kind ingredients.

"Blending Michelin-starred restaurants with bustling street markets, it seems to have this world-class food culture going on. It's so good that now myself, the other judges, and contestants can finally get amongst it this season."

The 16th season of the show will feature a fresh-faced lineup of home cooks competing for the title of MasterChef Australia winner. There will also be some celebrity guest judges, with Jamie Oliver already confirmed to be in the mix. 

While the air date is yet to be announced, it’s likely that the reality program will air after Channel 10’s next big reality TV offering, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! hosted by Julia Morris and Robert Irwin.