“Approach It With Open Minds”: New MasterChef Australia Judge Sofia Levin Wants Fans To Give The New Season A Chance

MasterChef Australia is almost ready to return for another year, and while we're addicted to watching cook ups in the MasterChef kitchen, it looks like the show will be having a bit of a mix-up this season with an entirely new judging panel.
After the tragic death of Jock Zonfrillo and the departure of the wonderful Melissa Leong (who has gone on to co-host the deliciously sweet Dessert Masters), this season, we don't just have one new judge— we've got three of them!
While Andy Allen will be staying on with the show, he'll be joined by three new judges — TV personality and former MasterChef Australia contestant Poh Ling Yeow, French chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, and finally, food critic and journalist Sofia Levin.
While we're all well-versed with Poh, it might be the first time many have heard Levin's name. However, you've likely read her work before. The Melbourne-based food critic has written about food for a bunch of publications, including Delicious, Broadsheet, Good Food, Lonely Planet, The Guardian, The Age and National Geographic.
With such a change in the judging panel, many fans are sceptical about how this new era of MasterChef Australia will go down. But according to Levin, we have nothing to worry about.
"I think change is inherently scary for human beings," Levin tells Refinery29 Australia. "But I would just encourage people to do what I think they should do with food — and that is to approach it with curiosity and open minds."
"Everybody brings something different, whether it's to a judging panel or to any new job," she continues.
Levin encourages audiences to reflect on their first experiences with previous judging panels. "For the first episode of Season One, unless they were already deeply in the food industry, they probably didn't know who Matt, Gary, or George were either," she says. "Then again with Andy, Mel and Jock, we've all become known through MasterChef."
The Melbourne-based food critic, who runs the website Seasoned Traveller and encourages people to 'eat curiously', also reiterates that the show has never really been about the judges. "It's not actually about us as judges," she says. "Yes, we play an important role. But it's about the contestants and their journey and their growth throughout the competition."
"MasterChef as a whole is just so, so much bigger than any lineup of judges or cohort of contestants," she reflects. "We all fall under this banner of something that, by its very nature, encourages people to experience and live out their food dreams."
"In turn, everyone who watches the show can relate to that in some way as well, and hopefully go and cook or try eating something different."
For many fans, it's likely their first introduction to Sofia Levin. The food critic says fans can expect her to approach the MasterChef Australia kitchen and judging as a whole from a very different perspective thanks to her history of writing about food. "I come at it with a really broad understanding of food, different cuisines, and dishes in general," she explains, citing her experience of being exposed with different dishes across the world thanks to her journalism career. "I backed it up with the research side of things."
Levin explains that while the other three incredible judges are perhaps more "technique-driven", she knows "how things are meant to taste."
"I'm using that knowledge and everything I've learnt about food and the industry over the last 15 years and bringing that into the MasterChef kitchen, to then pass it on to people who have not been in a professional hospitality setting before," she says. "My role there is to shine the restaurant light and the food and cuisine knowledge light onto them."
"I'm an enthusiastic, discerning glutton," she laughs.
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