Matt Preston has revealed that he almost walked away from MasterChef, the Channel Ten show that has made him a household name.
Preston and his two MasterChef mates Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris will kick off the show's ninth season, but the popular judge told news.com.au that the trio almost quit in 2013.
"I think we all thought about [quitting] seriously after season five," Preston said, "but I think we were all really glad we came back because we got the show back on track and we reverted back to what the show is all about which is to give the contestants every chance to succeed".
Season five of MasterChef was won by Emma Dean with 1.06 million people tuning in for the winner announcement, a far cry from the 2.19 million who tuned in the previous year for the same segment.
"In series five we strayed from the tried and true formula and started to get a bit cheesy," Preston admitted to news.com.au.
"We tried to throw in curveballs. We don't need curveballs because it's tough enough cooking tasty food out of a mystery box against the clock without saying, 'and by the way, everything's got to be plated upside down.'
"We've tried to make the show all about the food and that's when the show is at its best. When the food is good and the people have a legitimate dream they want to follow to make their life better, that's when the show thrives and that's what we've got this year."
As well as Preston, Mehigan and Calombaris, MasterChef regulars Shannon Bennett and Maggie Beer will be seen in the ninth season along with Heston Blumenthal.
"We spent five days with him," Preston told news.com.au about the eccentric British chef who last month made a bizarre appearance on The Project.
"I got to spend long nights discussing his thoughts on the second brain and the importance of food and the right to good food. He is a truly unique thinker. He thinks about food in a way that no one else does."
Here are some other highlights from our interview with Preston:
On filming two versions of the finale with each contestant winning in order to keep the result a secret: "We've done it a number of different ways over the years but two finales is the best way of doing it," Preston said.
"We can't allow the result to get out. We don't want it being spoiled by some smart arse on the internet. It's called plausible deniability."
On how many cravats he owns: "I've just culled 100," Preston said. "I think I've got about 500. It's quite sad saying goodbye to old friends but times change and, quite frankly, I've got no space anymore, it's getting ridiculous. I've only got one neck and five chins."
On who he was most excited to meet at last month's Logies: "Hayley Magnus who was in The Wrong Girl," Preston said.
"And Rhys Mitchell. I love Upper Middle Class Bogan and he's the funniest character. And obviously Sam Pang, I love Have You Been Paying Attention, it's one of my favourite things on the tele.
"Oh, and Lachy Hulme, the best man in the world. He's my spirit animal."