A LOVE of food keeps the MasterChef hosts coming back for more.
Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris return to our screens next week in a seventh season of the reality cooking show.
Food critic Preston and chefs and restaurateurs Calombaris and Mehigan all have busy schedules to balance with the series.
When I visited the MasterChef set in Melbourne, Calombaris had a full day of filming before opening his new wholefoods cafe Mastic that evening.
"One of the reasons why we still enjoy it is because all three of us still have our day jobs," Preston told APN.
"It's really hard to do but it's crucial. Most people who join TV leave behind the reason why they joined it in the first place.
"When we stand there and say we love it (the industry) we're speaking from a position of when this (the show) finishes we go back to it."
Expectations for this year's new crop of amateur cooks are high after last year's successful revamp, which saw the Logie-winning show return to basics.
"What's lovely is after a long break doing our day jobs and then coming back, it really makes you appreciate what a privilege it is to do this job," Preston said.
"There was also the other slight concern because we did go so well last year and we did have some amazing cooks. (This year) we're trying to find people who are as good because everyone's expecting that. We've got to match it."
The show's crew prides itself on being the reality cooking show for serious food lovers, focusing on produce and skills rather than rivalries or personal drama.
Preston proudly boasts about the show's strike rate: 80% of former contestants have gone on to work in food-related industries.
Hayden Quinn is one recent example. After finishing sixth in the third season, the former lifeguard has published a cookbook and hosts a series on Foxtel's LifeStyle Channel.
"This is not some empty competition where they come for their 15 minutes of fame and then they go back to being radio operators (or whatever)," he said.
"I met someone from the top 50 of season one and he's now working for Food SA promoting South Australian food.
"What people sometimes forget is these are genuine amateurs," Preston said. "This is (their) Cinderella moment. This is 'oh my God that slipper fits'."
MasterChef Australia starts tonight at 7.30pm on Channel 10
MasterChef's new guest mentor Shannon Bennett
*Developed his passion for cooking alongside classmate Curtis Stone during home economics classes in Melbourne
*After honing his skills in Europe under the tutelage of Marco Pierre White and Albert Roux, Shannon returned to Melbourne and opened his first restaurant at the age of 24.
*His Melbourne eatery Vue de monde is considered one of the Top 10 restaurants in Australia and was awarded three Good Food Guide chef's hats this year.
*Shannon's latest project, the Burnham Bakery & Piggery Cafe, will host this season's first MasterClass.
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