Food & Wine

Heston Blumenthal ousted from MasterChef amid underpayment scandal

Heston Blumenthal ousted from MasterChef amid underpayment scandal

Network 10 has confirmed that Heston Blumenthal will not return to his guest judging role on MasterChef amid his wage theft scandal.

Earlier this month Dinner by Heston restaurant, which was fronted by the celebrity chef, was revealed to have underpaid employees by more than $4 million. The restaurant had its lease terminated by Crown Melbourne last week and is expected to be put into liquidation by the Federal Court this week.

The British chef will not appear on MasterChef in 2020, Network 10 officials have confirmed.

“Heston has been a long-time member of the MasterChef Australia family, but he will not be appearing in the upcoming season,” a spokesman told the Herald Sun.

The network offered no explanation on Blumenthal’s absence.

“Season 12 of MasterChef Australia is currently in production, and we look forward to showing viewers our amazing new judges and an incredible cast later in the year on 10.”

Dinner by Heston is owned by British-based company Tipsy Cake. Blumenthal is no longer a shareholder of the embattled business, but the company said he remains associated as chef patron.

Tipsy Cake claimed a large part of the blame laid on Crown Resorts, which it described as a “partner”.

“As a foreign company, Tipsy relied from the outset on the advice given by advisers in Australia and our partner Crown Melbourne, who were responsible for advising on the staff remuneration blueprint for the restaurant,” a Tipsy Cake spokesperson told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

“As the financial effect became clearer, including the discovery that there were also significant overpayments of superannuation to some staff, Tipsy Cake tried to discuss constructively with Crown, to work together to find a solution which would be in the best interests of staff.

“Regrettably Crown has not engaged with us or agreed to any proposal which was tabled in order to remediate the employees.

“This is a complex issue and one that has affected a large number of industries and companies across Australia.”

A Sunday Age investigation in late 2018 revealed that the Melbourne restaurant had been unlawfully underpaying its staff, with many of them working 20 to 30 hours a week unpaid.

Blumenthal’s removal from the Channel 10 show came as former judge George Calombaris saw his restaurant business put into administration following a staff underpayment scandal.