George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston aren't wasting any time, forming their own venture and pitching for a big new chapter.
George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston won't waste any time exploring their next small screen endeavours together.
A day after abruptly exiting reality television juggernaut MasterChef Australia, the three are preparing to develop new concepts under the banner of their own production company GGM, which they will pitch to streaming service giants Netflix and Amazon.
But the damage done to Calombaris' brand, which has hurt his two MasterChef co-stars, could dwindle their appeal here, and the celebrity chef scenes in the United States and Britain are very congested.
On top of that, streaming service cooking shows have had mixed fortunes, and one media expert believes a reality competition format won't work.
But before then, the trio must contend with the likelihood of losing some serious money.
LUCRATIVE DEALS AT RISK
Since MasterChef exploded onto Australian screens in 2009 to mammoth ratings, chefs Calombaris and Mehigan, along with writer and food critic Preston, have become some of the biggest TV stars around.
Media analyst Steve Allen said the three had successfully spun that notoriety into millions of dollars in earnings. That's now at risk.
"Each one of them have used MasterChef to get all kinds of lucrative deals — product sponsorships, TV commercials, appearances, food brands, kitchen appliances and tourism endorsements," Mr Allen, boss of Fusion Strategy, said.
"Those kind of clients rely on those three being on screens several nights a week for months and months on end.
"Those streaming services they're rumoured to be targeting are popular, but they don't offer that kind of ongoing, long-running and saturation visibility."
Without a multi-night platform like MasterChef, Mr Allen said Calombaris, Mehigan and Preston could "find themselves being worth not quite as much to advertisers".
"If they think they can get these kinds of deals without MasterChef, they're completely wrong."
DIMINISHING PUBLIC APPEAL
Whether the "three musketeers" can continue to appeal to viewers, even those in Australia who've come to know their faces over the past 10 years, is unclear.
Last night's MasterChef finale attracted its lowest-ever audience of just 831,000 viewers — despite news of the shock exits of Calombaris, Mehigan and Preston breaking mere hours before.
Mr Allen believes Calombaris faces an impossible challenge to rehabilitate his toxic public profile in the wake of the Fair Work investigation into his $8.1 million underpayment of 500 staff.
"George hasn't handled his issues very well at all," he said. "I think it's crazy."
Outside of MasterChef, Mehigan has a fairly underwhelming presence elsewhere and no longer runs a restaurant.
Preston is the "most likely to get other offers", Mr Allen said, but the three seem determined to continue working together.
In a statement last night, Mehigan said working with his long-time co-stars had been "a blessing and something I cherish".
"Working together will continue to be the most important thing for us … the three musketeers."
Advertising executive Dee Madigan said the stink surrounding Calombaris was a liability for anyone associated with him.
The fact Preston publicly backed him also made him problematic for a while at least, the Campaign Edge boss said.
NEW SHOW 'A BIG GAMBLE'
Calombaris, Mehigan and Preston are determined to continue working together and will develop new TV concepts under their own production company.
The Daily Telegraph reports the trio will pursue a "multimillion-dollar" deal with a major streaming service.
Netflix has previously indicated an interest in Australian-made content, and pressure is mounting on other foreign players to support the local industry.
Mr Allen said a cooking show could be a safe investment, given its low cost to produce and the fact that "food can go anywhere in the world".
"What I think is the big unknown is these three being the stars of such a show," Mr Allen said.
"There are a number of very well-established celebrity chefs who front a number of shows all over the world, especially in the US and UK.
"Can these guys compete with them? We'll see."
What kind of food format might work on Netflix or Amazon was also "a big gamble", he said.
The visually stunning and high-end Chef's Table series has performed well for Netflix, as has the comedic Nailed It about people unsuccessfully replicating recipes.
And famed British chef Gordon Ramsay's shot an instructional series for Amazon.
But what idea would Calombaris, Mehigan and Preston pitch? Mr Allen is doubtful a competition-style reality series would work.
"It'll be a tricky thing to get it right for these three," he said. "It's a hell of a gamble they're taking."