7000 apply to become MasterChef

More than 7000 cooks, chefs, apprentices and culinary artistes have applied to Channel TEN in the hope of becoming the first title winner of MasterChef Australia.

The new reality series closed off applications last week. Rules stipulated applicants' main source of income could not come from preparing and cooking fresh food in a professional environment (restaurant, hotels, canteens etc). By the sounds of things they got the variety of 'wanna-bes' they were looking for.

Executive producer Paul Franklin said, "A phenomenal number of people have applied to be a contestant on MasterChef Australia. From all walks of life, they include city lawyers, RAAF pilots, music producers, teachers and students -- all lead such radically different lives yet share a burning passion for food."

TEN will certainly be hoping viewers feel as hungry when its great new hope for 2009 launches around late April or early May. There's a lot riding on this UK format given that it has to replace the hole left by Big Brother.

MasterChef Australia will screen six nights a week;, stripped at 7pm weeknights plus a Sunday edition.

TEN has announced three new names as host and judges for the show.

Sarah Wilson, former editor of Australian Cosmopolitan turned social commentator, will host the show. Wilson comes with experience in both the hospitality industry and journalism.

Two judges, who will also serve as mentors have also been announced.

George Calombaris was voted one of the Top 40 Chefs of Influence in the World by the Global Food and Wine Magazine. At just 30 years old he owns three restaurants in Melbourne and one in Mykonos, Greece. Gary Mehigan trained at The Connaught and Le Souffle in London. His ventures include Fenix and Maribyrnong Boathouse, and he was also head of the kitchen in some of Melbourne's other prominent restaurants, including Browns, Burnham Beeches Country House and Hotel Sofitel.

TEN's programmer David Mott said, "Sarah Wilson has an addictive passion for food and wine, and a vibrant on-screen presence that makes her a natural host for MasterChef Australia. We have no doubt that Australian viewers will embrace her.

"The judging and mentoring panel of MasterChef Australia comprises two of Australia's most renowned, revered and ambitious chefs in Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris. Their personalities are the perfect balance to not only judge, but mentor our contestants as they progress through the series."

TEN will also announce a third key identity, the show's food critic.

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