Ex-MasterChef judge George Calombaris breaks his silence on his shock TV comeback and sends a special message to Channel 10 after being fined $200,000 for underpaying his restaurant staff
Former MasterChef judge George Calombaris has broken his silence on his return to television two years after he was caught underpaying staff in a wage scandal.
The 42-year-old celebrity chef was unmasked as The Duster on Tuesday night during the episode of The Masked Singer Australia.
He told Studio 10 on Wednesday, he still has a ‘soft spot for Channel 10’, despite the network dumping him as a judge on MasterChef in 2019.
Speaking: Former MasterChef judge George Calombaris (center, as ‘The Duster’ on The Masked Singer) has broken his silence on his return to television two years after being caught underpaid staff in a wage scandal
‘It was a great experience. I was afraid you wouldn’t believe it… but it’s time for chapter two of George. It has been a difficult time in recent years,” he says.
“I also have a soft spot for Channel 10. I love the network and everything they believe in and the joy that every show brings to people’s hearts.”
George added: ‘It was a wonderful experience and I am very grateful for it.’
He also shared a post on Instagram, admitting that he was pushed out of his comfort zone after being revealed as “The Duster” on Tuesday night.
“WHAT AN EXPERIENCE I CAN’T REPRESENT ABOUT THE MASKED SINGER,” he captioned a photo of himself on the show’s stage.
“It pushed me out of my comfort zone and to the limit, but most importantly it put a smile on my children’s faces and showed them that in life all you have to do is ‘take a tear’!”
‘What an experience’: He also shared a post on Instagram, admitting he was pushed out of his comfort zone after being revealed as ‘The Duster’ on Tuesday night
Back: On Tuesday’s episode of The Masked Singer Australia, George was exposed as The Duster
George thanked his former employer for “always believing in him” by offering him the chance to appear on the show.
“A big thank you to Channel Ten, who ALWAYS believed in me!” he finished.
The Masked Singer marked the former MasterChef judge’s return to Channel Ten following his departure from the cooking show in 2019 over a wage dispute.
Not so happy: some fans were less than impressed with his return to TV
Several fans complained that the chef was denied a comeback after he was fined $200,000 between 2011 and 2017 for underpaying 515 employees.
One person tweeted: ‘Pfft George Calombaris doesn’t deserve to be back on our TVs’.
Another wrote: ‘Noooooooo sorry George Colombaris Too SOON sorry we haven’t forgotten or forgiven, maybe try a reputation rehab on the ABC.’
Added another: ‘Channel 10 what are you doing to put him in one of your other shows’.
Another tweeted: “Hope George isn’t getting paid for this apparition…otherwise double standards.”
Another wrote: ‘Where was the indication not to pay your employees?’
Scandal: In 2019, the chef made headlines after it was revealed that he had underpaid his restaurant staff by nearly $8 million, for which he paid a huge fine
In 2019, George made headlines after it was revealed that he had underpaid his restaurant staff by nearly $8 million.
He was fined for underpaying 515 employees between 2011 and 2017 and will have his company audited for the next three years.
He was also fired alongside veteran MasterChef co-juries Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston amid the controversy and a wage dispute.
“Despite months of negotiations, Ten has failed to reach a commercial agreement that Matt, Gary and George found satisfactory,” Ten CEO Paul Anderson said in a statement in July 2019.
Out: George was also fired alongside veteran MasterChef co-juries Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston amid controversy and a wage dispute. Pictured with Gary Mehigan (left) and Matt Preston (center)