Calombaris (centre) with co-hosts Mehigan and Preston in April at the launch of the season of MasterChef which would prove their last.
Calombaris (centre) with co-hosts Mehigan and Preston in April at the launch of the season of MasterChef which would prove their last. Channel 10

‘Just desserts’: George slammed after exit

MasterChef star George Calombaris has been slammed on Twitter in the wake of the shock exit he, and co-hosts Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston, suddenly parted with the Network 10 show.

Scathing comments included a sarcastic suggestion people "put your payslips out for George", parodying the practice of putting out a symbolic item in sympathy for a person who has just died.

Another tweeter suggested Calombaris be sent to an island with his unpaid staff as a contestant on the show Survivor.

News that the three judges had asked for a reported 40 per cent pay rise after Calombaris had been caught out underpaying restaurant staff earned the chef the most abuse.

One tweeter even re-dubbed the award-winning reality show with the hashtag #MasterTheft.

Some quipped Calombaris was "cooked" and had got his "just desserts" and the result was "a sweet ending".

The Twitter tirade erupted late on Tuesday afternoon after Ten pulled the plug on the MasterChef trio, confirming that after 11 seasons they would not return to MasterChef next year.

The announcement came ahead of MasterChef's season finale.

RELATED: Inside Ten's sudden MasterChef exodus

RELATED: Judges respond: 'It was never about the money'

All three are believed to have left MasterChef after the network refused to up their salaries "by more than 40 per cent", according to media reports.

Calombaris has been under fire after it was revealed he had underpaid staff working for his Melbourne restaurant empire more than $7.8 million.

In a statement Ten chief executive officer Paul Anderson said: "Despite months of negotiation, 10 has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George."

Cooked: Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris will not return to MasterChef on Network Ten.
Cooked: Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris will not return to MasterChef on Network Ten.

 

 

"We would like to thank Gary, George and Matt for their contribution over the past 11 years," he said.

But on social media outrage at perceived hypocrisy by Calombaris dominated the comments.

Fred Sparrow tweeted: "How they complain when they're the ones being short changed. Welcome to Morrison's world where the 'born to rule' think they deserve to be treated with privilege."

The Twitter account of radio commentators Jane Kennedy and Mick Molly tweeted: "George Calombaris is now out of a job … hope he doesn't have to get a job at one of his restaurants waiting tables"

"Disappointed," @bloodyauspol tweeted. "George Calombaris thinks people who work on weekends don't deserve extra money but he deserves more money to stand around and taste food."

Emily Mayo tweeted: "I hope #MasterChefAU announces an all woman team of expert hosts. It'd be nice if they could confirm none of them were expert at #WageTheft too."

Jim Pembroke tweeted: "Let's get this straight … Possible gaol time for journalists, protesting farmers, environmental activists.

"But wage or superannuation theft? That gets a slap on the wrist, a fine and a TV contract. #Calombaris."

 

 

Union groups went on the front foot to slap Calombaris, who paid back money owed to underpaid staff.

The chef and his Made Establishment company was fined a "contrition payment" of $200,000 by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

United Voice Western Australia tweeted: "Well done to Hospitality members for making their voices heard. This was not a 'commercial agreement' issue. This was hospitality workers fighting back. Now, let's take wage theft off the menu - FOR GOOD."

The Victorian Trades Hall Council and @unionsaustralia tweeted: "This is a win for the brave workers who exposed the rampant wage theft on which Calombaris built his empire.

"Our movement will continue to fight for justice for workers who have still not been paid back by Calombaris.

George Calombaris has parted with Network Ten after being under fire fore weeks over underpaying staff at his restaurants.
George Calombaris has parted with Network Ten after being under fire fore weeks over underpaying staff at his restaurants.

 

 

 

 

"ALL wage thieves are on notice. #MasterTheft #MasterChefAU.""

Prior to the reported request for a wage rise, Calombaris, Mehigan and Preston were said to be on salaries "well over $1 million" on the Ten cooking show, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Despite Calombaris apologised for his actions, in the lead-up to Tuesday evening more than 22,000 people signed a petition calling for him to be sacked from MasterChef.

"George should pay a serious price for this massive theft of workers' wages," the petition read.

"Channel 10 should stop making excuses for this serial wage thief."

 

 

 

The celebrity chef was also dumped from a West Australian tourism campaign on Monday.

Calombaris featured in Tourism WA's advertising campaign "Create Your Own Gourmet Escape in WA", which first aired in the eastern states during WA Week on MasterChef this month and was due to run until September.

Tourism WA managing director Brodie Carr on Monday said the ads with Calombaris had been suspended, although the campaign with MasterChef would continue.

"We've paused all of our work with George for now and we're talking to his management about recouping some of our costs that we've paid him," Mr Carr told 6PR radio.

Last night, as the final episode of MasterChef was aired the jokes against Calombaris extended to what was being cooked on the show: "Q: What does a marron tail and George Calombaris have in common? They're both in hot water".

Then speculation turned to who would replace the trio on the show.

After that, a sense of wistful nostalgia crept into tweets as tweeters realised they were seeing the last, on Ten's MasterChef at least, of Matt Preston's cravats.

Nick Stoll tweeted: "SBS should buy masterchef, make the judges a rotating cast of yiayias, nonnas, abuelas, and other ethnic grandmas who berate the contestants for using expensive ingredients when there's vegetables in the back garden. Boom. Network television saved."

But from @MasJoy there was this: "Well I guess this is my last season ever of Masterchef.

"I don't think Ch 10 realise just how much they were worth paying what they were asking for.

"If another network or streaming service were smart, they would nab these 3 quick smart for another competitor show. Top Chef Oz?"

Tweeted by @bronNHoynes with crying emojis was: "Is Masterchef going to be in next year? I've never missed a season, it won't be the same with Gary, Matt & George, just devastating."

And @Ammarzaheer posted: "Last episode of Masterchef with George, Gary & Matt as Judges. Leaving over pay dispute, of all the things. What a ride though. End of an era!!! #MasterChefAU #Grandfinale".

 

candace.sutton@news.com.au

George Calombaris (above with co-hosts), Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan has been under fire after underpaying restaurant staff.
George Calombaris (above with co-hosts), Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan has been under fire after underpaying restaurant staff.


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