It's a question you'd be forgiven for asking upon the announcement of the new MasterChef judges today: Who?

The three new judges are hardly household names compared to some of the people suggested since Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan departed Ten's hit cooking show in dramatic circumstances earlier this year, news.com.au reports.

They may not be Maggie Beer, Curtis Stone or Nigella Lawson — but meet your new MasterChef Australia judges:

Melissa Leong

Leong is a food and travel writer, food media consultant, radio broadcaster, television presenter, MC and cookbook editor. A first-generation Singaporean Australian, she also isn't afraid to consume anything at least once.

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Melissa Leong is a food and travel writer and a food media consultant. Photo / news.com.au
Melissa Leong is a food and travel writer and a food media consultant. Photo / news.com.au

"It goes without saying, that it is an honour to be passed the baton and asked to help bring the next chapter to life on a show like MasterChef Australia," Leong said.

"It came as a huge surprise for me, and is, without a doubt the opportunity of a lifetime. I am really looking forward to getting stuck in!"

Our spies this morning have pointed out that Melissa wasn't always quite so enthusiastic about MasterChef — here's a tweet from her in 2012:

And another from 2011:

On Instagram earlier this year, Leong batted away suggestions she was in the running to be a MasterChef judge, writing: "Let me put it on the record — I don't want to be the next Matt Preston. I don't want to be the next anyone, for that matter. I want to be the first ME."

Jock Zonfrillo

Zonfrillo is the owner and chef of three-hatted Restaurant Orana, and Bistro Blackwood in Adelaide.

He was named Australia's Hottest Chef in 2018 and has hosted television shows including Nomad Chef, Restaurant Revolution and Chef Exchange, as well as appearing in the MasterChef Australia kitchen as a guest chef across three seasons.

Jock Zonfrillo is the owner and chef of three-hatted Restaurant Orana, and Bistro Blackwood in Adelaide. Photo / news.com.au
Jock Zonfrillo is the owner and chef of three-hatted Restaurant Orana, and Bistro Blackwood in Adelaide. Photo / news.com.au

"When I think of MasterChef Australia, I think of discovering new talented cooks with fresh ideas and creativity. There hasn't been a season yet where I haven't been surprised by just how talented some of the undiscovered cooks are, so much so, that many of them have worked in my kitchen over the years. I can't wait to get in that kitchen," he said in a statement provided by Ten today.

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Andy Allen

Season four winner Andy Allen is a true MasterChef success story.

Since winning MasterChef Australia, Allen has travelled Australia and the world, and has become co-owner of the Three Blue Ducks, taking on the role of head chef at their Rosebery restaurant, which went on to be awarded a Chef's Hat — making Allen the first MasterChef Australia contestant to be awarded the highly sought after honour.

Andy Allen won MasterChef Australia in season four. Photo / news.com.au
Andy Allen won MasterChef Australia in season four. Photo / news.com.au

Allen and the Ducks have since opened a restaurant in Brisbane and are soon to launch another in Melbourne.

"I entered this competition as a contestant in 2012, somehow I won it and then I went out into the big, bad wide world of hospitality," Allen said. "To be asked to be a judge — and to come full circle back to MasterChef Australia — is really flattering and really special.

"I'm stoked because it means that I've done the hard work to be here. You don't ask Joe Blow to be a judge on MasterChef Australia."

READ MORE:
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Why former Masterchef judge George Calombaris refuses to do other reality TV

The trio will take over the reins for the show's 12th season, titled MasterChef: Back To Win, debuting on Ten in 2020.

The upcoming season will see the best contestants from the past 11 seasons return to the kitchen to compete in the show which will be filmed in Melbourne early next year.

The new judges will be joined throughout the season by celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and Curtis Stone.

Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo are set to take over on MasterChef Australia. Photo / news.com.au
Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo are set to take over on MasterChef Australia. Photo / news.com.au

"Having watched this group create their own restaurants, their own businesses and become great chefs in their own right has been amazing. But now to see them back, pitting their knowledge against each other in the MasterChef kitchen, sets the stage for the most exciting season yet," Zonfrillo said.

Leong said: "Back To Win — it says it all, right? This is the who's who of MasterChef Australia's favourites from seasons past. This season, they have an opportunity to show everyone what they've been up to and where they are at, in their food evolution. They know how this game works, so they should be prepared to waste no time in showing us what they've got."

The announcement of the new judging line-up comes after Network 10's shock announcement in July that George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan wouldn't return to the cooking show in 2020.

"Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George," Network 10 chief executive officer Paul Anderson said in a press release sent out just hours before the season 11 finale aired.

Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston have been booted off the show. Photo / File
Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston have been booted off the show. Photo / File

It was reported that Calombaris (who it was fined A$200,000 for underpaying staff from his restaurant empire more than A$7.8 million in wages), Preston and Mehigan demanded a 40 per cent increase on their $1 million per season salaries.

But Mehigan took to social media just after the press release was sent out and claimed, "It was never about the money".

"We couldn't agree on the term of the new contract (which) we felt very strongly about … it was time to move on (and) have more free time to explore our own creativity … working together will continue to be the most important thing for us," he wrote.

Preston backed up Mehigan's statement and claimed that the judges had agreed on a dollar amount with Ten.