MasterChef fans were broken by the loss of a key figure on the show, judge Jock Zonfrillo back in April 2023. His passing saw the premiere the latest season delayed, as colleagues and fans mourned his passing.
Now, as the show finally ramps up towards the next season, there was a lot of confusion about who would take Zonfrillo’s space as the third judge on the series (next to Melissa Leong and Andy Allen). Now, there are rumours that British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver could be up for the role.
Woman’s Day reports that Oliver has clinched a $2 million deal to be a judge on the next series, however, it doesn’t appear to be a permanent placement. The title adds that Oliver will begin filming the show this November.
Given that Oliver’s life is back in the UK, it is believed that his mega deal includes accommodation for him and his family when they visit in January, and a trip back to the UK for Christmas.
It won’t be the first time that Oliver has graced the top grossing series. In fact, he’s been on the show many times, including the premiere of the prior season. During his appearance, a contestant presented a dish that combined her Russian and Ukrainian heritage. It prompted Oliver to share that he had taken in families from the Ukraine given the ongoing war there.
“With things going on in the world at the moment, it’s kind of profound that you’re here with a Russian and Ukrainian dish,” he said.
“Can I give you a little secret, that no one really knows? I’ve had two Ukrainian families living with me for the last seven months. I’ve had my fair share of borscht! And this is absolutely delicious.”
Given Oliver’s close association with Australian MasterChef, he was friends with the late Zonfrillo.
In April, he took to Instagram to share his sadness and shock at his passing. Oliver shared that he had “the best time” working with Jock.
“Jock was very generous to me with his time and spirit in the show and for that I was really grateful,” he said. “Jock will be so very missed… I can’t believe I’m writing this… Sending heartfelt love and condolences to all of his family, friends and his second family the master chef team and contestants.”
Oliver is yet to publicly comment on the report, and neither has Network 10.