MasterChef fans lament Sunday night’s result, claiming winner Brent Draper should not have been eligible for a deal with major sponsor Coles.
Draper, a former tinkerer who also competed on the show’s 2021 season before quitting due to mental health issues, was crowned the 2023 winner on Sunday night over Queensland’s Rhiannon Anderson, who took second place.
However, viewers were quick to point out that Draper had spent the past two years working as a content creator for Coles, providing recipes and other food-related material for the supermarket giant.
Brent Draper was named the controversial winner of MasterChef 2023
Brent’s 10Play bio clearly states that he has worked for major sponsor Coles since his first MasterChef appearance in 2021.
Coles has long served as MasterChef’s main sponsor, reportedly spending around $6 million per season to have its logo and merchandise featured on the reality giant.
Some viewers have claimed that Draper’s status as a Coles employee breaches MasterChef’s strict entry criteria on the grounds that this is a “conflict of interest”.
Others have even claimed that MasterChef guest judge and longtime face of Coles, Curtis Stone, gave Draper an advantage in one of the show’s final challenges that ultimately led to the ouster of fan favorite Declan Cleary.
Hundreds have taken to Reddit fansites and forums to argue the point, with some fans even calling for the ‘settings gain’ to be removed.
‘What the what!?!? Did you know about this? Isn’t this a conflict of interest?’ one Reddit user fumed, adding a copy of Draper’s TenPlay bio which clearly states that he has worked for Coles since 2021.
Some fans are calling for the ‘opening win’ to be removed and Anderson (second from left) named the new winner.
Queenslander Rhiannon Anderson placed second behind Draper in the 2023 final
Another wrote: ‘My wife has been saying since the early days of this season that everything is set for Brent to win. I always fought against that idea, because I want to believe that (MasterChef) is and will always be fair. I’m not so sure now.
Commenting on a challenge Draper won in the final episodes of the show, Facebook user Linda Stewart noted: “I read… that Brent has been an ambassador for Coles for the past two years.
‘If this is true, wouldn’t it be a conflict of interest to have Curtis Stone, a Coles ambassador chef, to lead this challenge? Wouldn’t that give Brent an advantage?
Others were more pragmatic, noting that Coles executives were unlikely to have a say in the outcome of the show.
But one added that Draper’s position on the show “comes close” to breaking the rules in its application guide that states that participants’ primary source of income cannot be “preparing and cooking fresh food in a professional setting.”
Since leaving MasterChef prematurely in 2021, Draper has traveled Australia with his family in a converted bus on what he described as the “vacation of a lifetime.”
However, she has also contributed recipes and cooking content to Coles through her own YouTube videos, as well as through Coles’ content platforms.
Some believe the tie-in ultimately led to favorable treatment by the producers, with claims of a “smooth ride” to the finale at the expense of other contestants.
Curtis Stone, pictured leaving Melbourne this week, is the longtime face of Coles in a deal reportedly worth around $2 million per year.
Former boilermaker Brent Draper first competed on MasterChef in 2021, but quit for mental health reasons
Theorists claim that Draper had a “quiet ride” to the final at the expense of other contestants, including Declan (pictured).
‘This entire season is fraud… The Brent/MCAU redemption arc has been apparent for weeks. He has talent in his zone, but the production has done everything possible to get him to the final without a problem,” one Reddit user raged.
Give the crown to Rhi! A far more worthy victor! said another Facebook user.
A Ten spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia that Draper’s deal with Coles did not influence the outcome of MasterChef.
“After Brent Draper stepped away from MasterChef Australia in 2021 for mental health reasons, Coles reached out to support Brent’s mental health journey,” the spokesperson said.
‘Since then, Coles and Brent have collaborated on various recipe developments and appearances.
Brent’s return to MasterChef Australia in 2023 was in no way related to or influenced by his relationship with Coles. Like every other contestant, Brent secured his place in the competition based on merit.
‘Dishes served by MasterChef Australia contestants are reviewed solely by the show’s judges, based entirely on the quality of the dish presented. Brent works full time as a digital content creator for several different brands.’
Meanwhile, on Sunday night, the emotionally charged finale of the night, which also served as an official tribute to the late judge Jock Zonfrillo, also ranked as the lowest-rated final episode of the show since MasterChef began airing. air in 2009.
The show drew a five-metro city average of just 614,000 viewers on Sunday night, well below last year’s figure of 755,000 and miles from the 1.5 million who tuned in during the end of 2020.
The emotionally charged finale to the night also served as an official tribute to the late Judge Jock Zonfrillo,
Sunday night’s finale ranked as the lowest-rated final episode of the show since MasterChef began.
This season also marked the lowest overall viewing average since MasterChef’s debut in 2009.
This season averaged around 522,000 per episode, a stark contrast to the show’s glory days from 2009 to 2018, when it was watched by around 1.5 million viewers every night.
However, Ten has already released the casting call for the show’s 16th season, which will also have an altered judge lineup as the show continues its search for Zonfrillo’s replacement.
Zonfrillo tragically died in his hotel room at Zagame’s House on Lygon Street in Carlton, Melbourne on April 30 and was found by police around 2am on Monday May 1, the same day Channel Ten was due to premiere the fifteenth season of MasterChef Australia.
He is survived by his third wife Lauren and their four children: adult daughters Ava and Sophia from his first two marriages and Alfie and Isla with Lauren.
Channel Ten has launched its casting call for MasterChef 2024 which closes in mid-August