‘He’s All That & A Bag Of Potato Chips’: Melissa Leong On Why Jamie Oliver Is The Ultimate MasterChef Guest Judge

Image courtesy of Channel 10
Andy Allen, Jamie Oliver, Jock Zonfrillo and Melissa Leong on MasterChef Australia: Secrets & Surprises
MasterChef Australia: Secrets & Surprises is pulling no punches when it premieres on May 1. Season 15 of the popular cooking show will not only introduce 18 contestants, but will also feature a very high-profile guest judge, Jamie Oliver.
The English chef will join regular judges Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo (who recently passed away) and Andy Allen in tasting the cast members' initial dishes and he will also share some advice and tips on nailing it in the MasterChef kitchen.
"We're kicking things off with a bang with Jamie Oliver in the kitchen, and he is all that and a bag of potato chips," Leong tells Refinery29 Australia.
With over two decades in the food industry and the popularity of his past TV shows (all starting with The Naked Chef back in 1999), Oliver has become a household name around the world. He has over 10 million followers on Instagram and Australia is home to one of his last-remaining restaurants; a testament to his popularity in the country.
Leong emphasises that Oliver is just as warm and likeable in person as he is on television and online.
"The person that you think Jamie Oliver is, I'm very happy to say he really is off camera, on camera and on social media," she reveals.
It's not just his cooking skills and "the way that he goes about conveying the love of food" that are worth raving about, but also his approach to business, relationships and sharing knowledge with others.
"He is the most authentic person in the way that he navigates the world and I think there are lessons to be learned from that," says Leong.
"You can succeed to the highest of heights without losing who you are. As long as you maintain a strong sense of self and a strong support network around you, you can do it. And so, I learned a lot from him being there."
Oliver recently teased what viewers can expect to see from him when he appears on MasterChef.
"I want to give the contestants some little nuggets of advice, some techniques and some thoughts, most importantly, that might help them navigate some of the big moments ahead," he said in an official press release for the show.
He's the first of several well-known celebrities who will be guest judges on the show this year, including Curtis Stone, Maggie Beer, Rick Stein and Peter Gilmore.
"It's a constant rolling roster of the best people in the world to be in that kitchen to mentor the contestants, but also to call co-workers," says Leong. "And it is the great privilege of my job to have stood alongside some of the greatest chefs and food personalities in the world."
Image courtesy of Channel 10
The cast of MasterChef Australia: Secrets & Surprises
While last year's season of MasterChef: Fans vs Favourites starred a mix of returning contestants and fresh-faced cast members, this year's season will follow the journeys of 18 amateur home cooks. They are Adi Nevgi, Alice Han, Amy Tanner, Andrea Puglisi, Antonio Cruz Vaamonde, Brent Draper, Cath Collins, Declan Cleary, Grace Jupp, Jessica Perri, Larissa Sewell, Malissa Fedele, Phil Conway, Ralph Kahango, Rhiannon Anderson, Robbie Cooper, Rue Mupedzi and Theo Loizou.
MasterChef Australia: Secrets & Surprises will premiere on Sunday, May 7 at 7:30pm on Channel 10, following a special edition of The Sunday Project which will pay tribute to Jock Zonfrillo from 6:30pm.
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