MasterChef bombshells keep coming this season. Pictures: Ten
MasterChef bombshells keep coming this season. Pictures: Ten

MasterChef’s bombshell moments

MasterChef Australia's makeover with its new judges and top stars fighting to take out the Back to Win title in season 12 has also brought some major bombshells.

With strong ratings throughout the entire season, as some episodes have continued to attract more than a million viewers a night, the show is a clear hit with Australian TV viewers.

But cooking aside, fans have also learnt even more about the contestants who they've already met before.

This is what they have discovered so far:



On last night's elimination, cake queen Emelia Jackson admitted she had been "reserved" and "intimidated" by her rival contenders during this year's season of MasterChef. But after cooking her fine dining version of Paris-Brest in the form of a petit four, she clearly was back in the game - and a strong contender to potentially get into the top four.

Her emotional speech to the judges had fans in tears as she opened up about how much of a literal pressure cooker the show had become.




Speculation has already been swirling about who is in the finals online, after contestants including Ms Jackson, have been posting photos of themselves on social media with loved ones that have sent fans into a frenzy.



Apart from Ms Jackson, Poh Ling Yeow, Reynold Poernomo, Brendan Pang, Reece Hignell and Laura Sharrad are all reportedly said to be hot contenders for the final six spots.

In the last weekend of April, they all shared photos of themselves isolating together in Melbourne, where MasterChef was still being filmed.

This video on Instagram was posted in May showing Mr Hignell and Ms Jackson were still together in Melbourne.


The contestants were said to have returned home immediately after filming had wrapped.

Here, Ms Jackson posted an image of her and her partner reportedly reuniting after "5 months" apart in late May on Instagram.


Emelia Jackson with her partner in late May. Picture: Supplied
Emelia Jackson with her partner in late May. Picture: Supplied


The plot thickens on this one. Stay tuned.



During the pumpkin Immunity Challenge last week, Ms Sharrad was making pumpkin tortellini when judge Jock Zonfrillo came to her bench and said the dish was a "yawnfest" even before it hit the plate.

She fired back saying: "Well the only time I eat it Jock is in my restaurant and I'm not disappointed by it.

"How can you not like pumpkin tortellini Jock?"

This is not the first time Ms Sharrad has been rattled by controversy surrounding Zonfrillo.

She has been forced to reject claims she has an advantage because she once worked under him.

After she came second on season six at just 18-years-old, she worked in Jock's Adelaide restaurant, Orana, as a pastry chef.

Zonfrillo told The Daily Telegraph their former working relationship would not affect the competition.

"My job in MasterChef is to judge each plate of food that is put in front of me, not the person who made it," he said.

"I said it in the first tasting, there is no favouritism, just to be clear.

"If anything Laura will be at a disadvantage carrying the weight of cooking for her mentor."

Ms Sharrad said: "Jock has always been very honest when critiquing my food, and I expect nothing less from him on MasterChef this year … If anything I think it's a disadvantage as his expectations will be extremely high."






At just 15, judge Jock Zonfrillo had an addition to heroin. After getting sacked from his job at a Michelin star restaurant in Chester, England, he went to London and found himself in front of former MasterChef star Marco Pierre White.

Pierre White gave him a job at his world-famous Hyde Park Hotel.

"I'm not proud of it at all," he told recently of his drug use.

"It's embarrassing and it's embarrassing for my parents. But I'm thankful to have been able to come through the other side of that and I'm thankful for all the people who helped me at the right moments."

He says if it weren't for Marco, he would be "in a pine box or behind bars".



MasterChef judge and chef Jock Zonfrillo. Picture: Supplied
MasterChef judge and chef Jock Zonfrillo. Picture: Supplied




Ms Tiong, 29, was about to do a radio interview after being eliminated Tuesday night when Triple M Sunraysia breakfast host Matman upset her.

"Today, in an Australian radio interview with Triple M Sunraysia, the host greeted me by saying, 'ni hao ma'," Ms Tiong wrote in a post on Instagram.

"I do not believe this went to air. However, I felt uncomfortable and shocked. The call was immediately ended. This is racism. What an insensitive, tone deaf thing to say. Please, check yourself and do better."

Matman, whose real name is Matt Jonsen, apologised.

"Triple M Sunraysia unreservedly apologises for the offence caused by comments made to Sarah Tiong off-air this morning," a spokeswoman for the station said.

She later explained to fans why it was so insensitive.



MasterChef Australia’s Sarah Tiong. Picture: MasterChef/Network 10
MasterChef Australia’s Sarah Tiong. Picture: MasterChef/Network 10



New popular MasterChef judge Melissa Leong may look immacualte every time she steps on to the TV screen - but she has also revealed her private struggle with clinical depression.

Ms Leong, 38, told The Australian she had a breakdown in her 20's and she turned to cognitive therapy.

"For me, a big part of anxiety and depression was not knowing how to say 'no' and wanting to please too many people. … part of this process is learning to draw the line and slow down," she said.

"Mental health is not a novelty; it's part of who we are and we need to treat it as if it were a broken arm or any other kind of medical consideration."



Masterchef judge Melissa Leong. Picture: Supplied.
Masterchef judge Melissa Leong. Picture: Supplied.




The 33-year-old contestant suddenly left the popular cooking show after he was arrested and charged with two counts of sexual assault allegedly committed against a 16-year-old girl while in Melbourne in February.

The Herald Sun reported the alleged offending is understood to have taken place while he was in Melbourne filming the latest season of MasterChef.

Mr Ungermann who finished as the runner-up in season nine, shared a tweet from his lawyer Adam Houda on social media.

"I act for Ben Ungermann," Adam Houda said on Twitter.

"Allegations against my client are vehemently denied and will be defended."

"My client is very distressed by the charges levelled against him. I am instructed that the allegations are a complete fabrication and are strenuously denied."

Mr Ungermann left and did not appear on the show's Immunity Challenge episode featuring Katy Perry.

MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo told the contestants in a subsequent episode: "Due to a personal matter, Ben has had to leave the competition and he will not be returning."



Ben Ungermann left MasterChef Australia: Back To Win. Picture: Supplied
Ben Ungermann left MasterChef Australia: Back To Win. Picture: Supplied


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Chris Badenoch, 52, stunned viewers when he revealed he was married to Julia Jenkins, 34, who he met on the cooking show in 2009.

They took social media when they saw images of the couple as he was eliminated.

"I had no idea Chris and Julia got married," one person tweeted.

"Chris and Julia is probably a more solid relationship than any couple that a reality dating show could produce," another wrote.





One of the show's favourites Reynold Poernomo apologised after being exposed as a homophobe in his 20s.

He made the comments on a body building website titled, where he wrote under the username "reyreyy" that all gay people should be "captured" and "put on a remote island".

He was responding to a thread about the first gay couple to feature on the Disney channel.

"I wish the world made a united decision where they will capture all gay people and put them on a remote island full of gays, that way straight ppl (people) will be happy and the freaks can go on and f … themselves," Mr Poernomo wrote.

He also replied to a forum thread that posed the question, "Is homosexuality a mental illness?"

He replied: "Yes, end of thread."

His comments were made in 2014 before he made his debut on MasterChef's seventh season and ended up finishing in fourth place.

Now 26, Mr Poernomo has publicly apologised, by saying: "I would like to offer my sincere and deepest apologies for the comments that I made in 2014.

"I am ashamed of these comments and I regret them immensely.

"At the time these comments were made, I was a very immature, close-minded and insular 20-year-old. I have grown and matured a lot in the last six years. I am not the person I was back then.

"I have many friends and colleagues that are part of the LGBTQI+ community. I wholeheartedly support them and care deeply for them. I am truly sorry and apologise for any offence or hurt I caused."

Despite this, his teammates including Khanh Ong and Brendan Pang have stood by him.



MasterChef contestant Reynold Poernomo who is a hot contender. Picture: Supplied
MasterChef contestant Reynold Poernomo who is a hot contender. Picture: Supplied



There's more MasterChef prowess to the Poernomo family than just Rey - the dessert king we all know and is a top favourite to win this year.

His brother Arnold is a judge on MasterChef Indonesia. The show is filmed in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, where Arnold has been a judge since 2013.

Reynold, Arnold and their other brother Ronald co-own the Sydney-based Koi dessert bars Reynold started up after he first appeared on the show.






MasterChef judge and former winner Andy Allen is off the market.

He revealed in May he secretly proposed to his girlfriend Alex Davey during a holiday in New Zealand in December.

"I was so scared about the ring going off in the scanner at the airport and having to drop down on one knee and propose in front of the security guards," Mr Allen told TV Week.

"She was so shocked, she basically collapsed on my shoulder."


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Khanh Ong, who was eliminated last night, has revealed how he struggled as young gay boy.

Mr Ong, who finished third in 2018, broke down while revealing an image of him with his parents, Dzung Chau and Tam Ong, and sister Amy, during a cooking challenge.

He was born to Vietnamese parents in an Indonesian refugee camp, where he spent the first few years of his life.

"I kind of shied away from talking about family life the first time around. And then I was inconsolable. It was a really hard day,' he told the Herald Sun.

"Everyone only sees the last five or six years of everything. They don't know mum and dad gave up everything and took a massive risk to come to Australia."

He said coming out with his sexual orientation wasn't easy.

"Coming from an Asian household, I was like, 'How do I even have this conversation about being gay?'," he said.

"It was something I was so nervous about. When I told my parents, especially Mum, she was the coolest person I could have imagined. She was like, 'OK, do what you want'.

"I'm so close to my sister as well. We spend most days together."

He said youth charity Minus18 helped him find support from others in the LGBTQIA+ community.

He has been wearing T-shirts on the show that say "You Are Loved" and part of the profits from T-shirts sold go to the charity.



MasterChef contestant Khanh Ong. The former DJ turned foodie has started T-shirts called You Are Loved to spread love and positivity. Picture: Mark Stewart
MasterChef contestant Khanh Ong. The former DJ turned foodie has started T-shirts called You Are Loved to spread love and positivity. Picture: Mark Stewart



One of the judge's favourites, Poh Ling Yeow recently revealed she followed the Mormon church with her family as a teenager.

But she told Nine Newspapers she left the church at age 24, after she spent time with a transgender friend from Canada.

"One of the places I'd moved to was Canada and my first friend there was transgender. She took me under her wing and taught me how to catch the subway," she said.

"An amazing person. When I came home again, I was forever changed. I couldn't really accept [my] religion anymore."



Poh Ling Yeow is one of the show’s favourites to win. Picture: Supplied
Poh Ling Yeow is one of the show’s favourites to win. Picture: Supplied



Brendan Pang and Reece Hignell are best mates - and the renowned 'dumpling king' has revealed his MasterChef rival was one of the first people he came out to.

The pair who met on the 10th season of the show in 2018 are close, almost like family.

"I'd always kind of looked up to Reece as a role model," Mr Pang told

"When I was eliminated, we spent a bit of time together before I left to come home and I just opened up to him."

Mr Pang said his mate's reaction was "like his reaction when Katy Perry walked in" to the show.

"He was surprised but he was happy. It was a really special moment. He's like a brother to me now," he said.

On Facebook last year he wrote: "My name is Brendan Pang and I'm 26 years old … but, for as long as I can remember and up until the age of 24 I struggled with my sense of identity.

"As a gay male, I had feelings of being 'different' very early on, and as I navigated the bumpy road into adulthood, I went through some pretty dark times from feeling pressured to change who I was, to experiencing high levels of social anxiety.

"Thankfully, with the help of a strong and supportive network (my family and friends), I was able to not only survive the complexity of mental health, but thrive and become a stronger, happier, comfortable and proud ME."

He also shared a photo of himself with his current boyfriend Nick.



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Originally published as MasterChef's bombshell moments