On July 23 last year it was announced that Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris would not be returning to MasterChef for the 12th season of the flagship cooking show.
On October 23 it was confirmed at the Seven Upfront that Preston and Mehigan would be joining Channel Seven to head a new tentpole program for the network alongside station mainstay Manu Feildel.
The show was meant to launch off the back of one of the best platforms in TV in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and while that won’t be happening, the show will finally hit Australian screens on Sunday, August 30 at 7 pm.
According to Seven, Plate of Origin will be a world-class cooking competition with an international flavour that will pit plate against plate, cook against cook as teams go head-to-head to decide which cuisine will reign supreme.
Mediaweek spoke with Matt Preston about his new gig, working with Manu, life in lockdown, and how Plate of Origin will differ from MasterChef.
What Matt Preston did in lockdown
According to Preston there is only so much classic television you can watch and besides finishing the PlayStation games Ghost of Tsushima and The Witcher he had the chance to stick his hands in a few different pies.
“One of the reasons we wanted to move on was to have more times to ourselves and now we have that in Spades!
“The first thought you have is ‘what am I going to do?’. I have had more time to give to the charity Second Bite which I am on the board of. I also discovered that no one had bought the Instagram or web handle for quarantinekitchen.com.au and lockdownkitchen.com.au so I bought those and me and my friends have been making videos of our recipes for free, and it is nice to do things for people that they appreciate.”
A Lighter Schedule
One of the main reasons that the MasterChef trio cited for moving on from 10 was the desire for a much shorter work schedule, with the cooking program taking up to eight months to film. In comparison Preston said production for Plate of Origin takes him about six to eight weeks.
“I would much rather you make a short season than a flabby long one. If you look at how television is going in this country, shows like Lego Master, Masked Singer and similar types of shows are all short format – get in, get out. We are used to things moving fast. On shows like Big Brother and Survivor, someone goes home in the first episode – we don’t want to wait a week for someone to go home.”
“Seven are masters at establishing characters quickly. I watched the first episode of Plate of Origin with my family and everyone had a favourite.”
What to expect from Plate of Origin
Preston said that moving to a new show and a new network that there is always pressure to perform and the trick to making it work isn’t in the script.
“Like with MasterChef or whenever there is a new show, the tone is never written down. There is nowhere in the script that says Matt Preston hugs Julie Goodwin – that just happened organically. Joyous television is good television. Make people cry because they are happy, not because you have been brutal to them.”
With teams from pretty much every continent, Preston said that he is proud of the show that they have put together.
“Gary and I have travelled all over the world, and we wanted to bring all types of different home cooking to TV. This is probably the most diverse cast that I can think of on Australian commercial television.”
When asked what the key difference will be between Plate of Origin and MasterChef, Preston said that he wanted to make a more joyous show with a looser format.
“I wanted to make it a bit more real and relaxed with humour. The trope of MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules are so well set and so brilliant that they are instantly recognisable, so you look at those ideas and say let’s find something better, let’s find something different.
“We want to let our contestants cook to their strengths. If you take someone who is really good at pastries and ask them to cook a roast they may do a good job, but at the end of the day if you want them to give you the best food don’t ask a Thai person to bring you Icelandic food.”
Working with Manu on Plate of Origin
Preston said that if he wasn’t working will all three original judges from MasterChef then he is glad that they are starting fresh on a new channel and new show.
“Doing a new show with a new partner in crime made it easier. It would have been really hard to go back and do MasterChef with no Gary and no George.”
Slotting into the new team to join Preston and Mehigan is Seven staple Manu Feildel who they have both known for over ten years and enjoy a close relationship with off-camera. Preston describes Feildel as an old mate and says that we will see a slightly different Manu in Plate of Origin.
“We all know he has a great sense of humour and we will see more of that, and you will see a lot more of his in-depth food knowledge that we have not seen to much. People tend to forget that he used to be the head chef of one of the best restaurants in Australia. He is also very emotional, and I love that about him.”
“Chemistry can be hard you can be great mates with someone and then do TV or radio together and it doesn’t gel, but in this case, I think they have found lightning in a bottle with three people than genuinely love each other.”