MasterChef 2018: How the judges rate their celebrity guests

• MasterChef judge Matt Preston on Gordon, Nigella, and ratings strategy

This is part 2 of Mediaweek’s interview with MasterChef Australia judge Matt Preston. Read part 1 here.

Even after 10 years on the Ten Network hit series, Matt Preston tells Mediaweek he still feels uncomfortable watching himself on screen. A self-described TV nerd, he watches lots of television.

“I watch quite a bit of our show. If we are to have input on how to improve it for the next season, then I need to know what is good, what’s worked and what hasn’t.

“I will certainly be scanning the ratings and seeing which guests have worked well. I will be fascinated to see if Nigella does big business like she did two years ago, which was really the difference between season eight and season nine. We really saw the [ratings] jump when she came on and those people stayed with the show.

“The thinking [this year] is we will get a wodge of people coming on to see Nigella and they will stay. Hopefully we will get another wodge coming on to see Gordon Ramsay and they will stay, which will be exciting.

“One of the changes this year is the Sunday night show with a mystery box, which in the past gave the winner an advantage they could use in the invention test. At times they didn’t actually do very well and at times it seemed more like a curse.

“Now if you win the mystery box you actually get a proper advantage and win something. That first challenge really means something.”

It is surprising to realise that season 10 is the first to actually feature Gordon Ramsay on the program. Mediaweek asked Matt Preston if Ramsay gets a bum rap in the media because of a misunderstanding about what he is really like and what he does.

Preston said both Ramsay and Nigella Lawson are puzzled by some of the press they attract.

“Nigella was quite perplexed by the ‘sexy’ tag.

“At the heart of Gordon Ramsay there is a very honest, a very hyperactive, cyclone of a bloke. He is certainly not a person who is all super-zen off set and then comes on set.

“He is a ball of energy and very self-assured. From a TV craft perspective he is really, really good at making TV. He knows what needs to be said and he understands when things need to be explained and he knows when to ask a question. He is generally engaged and interested in both the contestants and the crew as well.

“We mark our guests out of two things – how they connect with the contestants and how they connect with the people looking after them – and he was great on both counts.”

Matt Preston continues to write a weekly column for delicious. on Sunday and his column for Taste.

He has a book coming out this Christmas and he’s been commissioned to deliver another one for the following Christmas too.

“I then try to connect with family and fiends. We normally work 12-hour days and it is a bit of a beast. Doing the washing up when you get home isn’t really enough to prove you are part of the family.”

News Corp’s Kerrie McCallum announced the launch of delicious. Travel at News Corp’s Come Together event last week, and Mediaweek asked Matt Preston if he’s a chance to lead any gourmet food tours.

“I love that sort of stuff. One of the things I have had to sacrifice [for MasterChef] is the amount of time I spend overseas. I am always up for a trip. There are possibly people far more qualified than me for that. I would just be concentrating on eating.

“I have always written about destinations for delicious. and it is great to see them do more in the territory. The independent traveller is a huge growing market thanks to things like Airbnb and aggregated sites, which have made international travel so much cheaper. When you get there you want to know where the best taco place is, you want to know where you can go and have the most amazing street food.”

Top photo: MasterChef Australia all-stars: The winners of every season of the show (who featured on the 2018 season launch) with the judges [L-R] Julie Goodwin, Kate Bracks, Andy Allen, Adam Liaw, Elena Duggan, George Calombaris, Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan, Emma Dean, Brent Owens, Billie McKay and Diana Chan

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