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When Melissa Leong Will Return To MasterChef After Missing Social Distancing Episode

The judge was absent on Monday night due to health concerns.
'MasterChef Australia: Back To Win' judge Melissa Leong
Channel 10
'MasterChef Australia: Back To Win' judge Melissa Leong

‘MasterChef Australia’ judge Melissa Leong has assured viewers she will be back on screen on Tuesday night after not appearing on Monday night’s episode.

The 38-year-old food critic was notably missing from the show’s first social distancing episode, and explained on Instagram that her absence was due to health issues amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“For those of you wondering where I am in this landmark episode, I had sinusitis and took myself to the GP in order to do the safe, thorough and responsible thing in such uncertain times,” Melissa wrote on Monday night.

“I was cleared and returned to set the next day.”

“As a cast and crew, we take the health and safety of each other and our community seriously and feel fortunate to continue bringing you a season we’re thrilled you love.”

Monday night’s episode was a social distancing first for the series, where contestants and judges, Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen, were asked to stand 1.5 metres apart.

The final 12 were split into three teams of four for a relay challenge, with Brendan Pang, Emilia Jackson, Simon Toohey and Khanh Ong’s team ultimately winning.

Current MasterChef Contestant: ‘Hygiene Has Gone Up By 10 Times’

Current contestant Reynold Poernomo previously said appropriate health and safety measures have been adapted while filming.

“Production has been very, very different. Ever since the stage one, two and three government restrictions, we’ve been following every single rule,” he told HuffPost Australia. “We’ve been socially distanced, even in the competition. It’s a bit weird, so we haven’t really had any outside challenges.

“We’ve been keeping 1.5 metre distance, and before we cook we have to wash our hands. Definitely hygiene has gone up by 10 times.”

A spokesperson from production company Endemol Shine Australia said social distancing, hand sanitising stations, gloves for groups challenges and additional sinks were being provided.

Endemol Shine Australia’s statement:

“MasterChef Australia has always employed the highest standards of food safety and hygiene, and we now have an even keener focus on that. All recommendations outlined by Federal and State government health authorities are being followed.

Under the current circumstances, we are introducing new measures for the foreseeable future. These include, but are not limited to social distancing measures across every facet of the production and additional hand sanitising stations positioned around the set and offices.

On the set, changes will be made to the spacing of contestant cooking benches and gloves provided for team challenges where equipment may be shared, as well as when handling food in the pantry. Additional sinks have been added as dedicated hand washing stations, so as to separate from any food preparation.

Judges will step up to taste individually portioned meals and no cutlery or plates will be shared.”

‘MasterChef Australia: Back To Win’ continues at 7:30pm on Channel 10.

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