Pressure’s on as super MasterChef studio unveiled

THE prize-winning chooks participating in the annual Royal Melbourne Show won’t be impressed with what’s happening inside Centenary Hall.

Being evicted was bad enough; now they’re in the pantry waiting to be turned into fancy grub.

The ”poultry shed” inside Melbourne Showgrounds is the new base of the hit TV show MasterChef.

Last year, the makers of MasterChef, Shine Australia, began scouting for a new location after the inner-Sydney warehouse where the first four seasons and various spinoffs of the show were filmed was sold.

Rather than a sound stage, where some of the estimated 35 versions of the global TV show are filmed, executive producer Margie Bashfield sought ”a real bricks-and-mortar building that you could see and touch”.

Originally built in 1934, the art deco-style pavilion had already been restored as part of the Showgrounds’ redevelopment, completed in 2006.

Soundproofed and air-conditioned, the purpose-built studio now houses a fully functioning commercial kitchen, ”boucherie”, herb garden, locker room, wine reception area, 120-seat restaurant and pantry.

For much of the year Centenary Hall sat empty, but that will no longer be the case. Filming of MasterChef: The Professionals, which debuts on Ten on January 20, has been under way since November last year and the fifth season of the signature show will begin when that wraps.

Rarely if ever has ”ownership” of a TV entertainment program become a political issue. New South Wales’ Deputy Opposition Leader Linda Burney deemed the move south ”an absolute travesty”, while Premier Ted Baillieu issued the media release welcoming home the show’s key figures, chefs George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan and host-judge Matt Preston (executive producer Bashfield also calls Melbourne home, which means Shine saves a bundle on airfares and accommodation).

Commercial confidentiality prevents Tourism Victoria and Shine from specifying what financial incentives were made to secure the show.

Tourism Minister Louise Asher says the exposure will be invaluable to the tourism industry and ”reinforce Victoria’s position as a premier destination for food and wine”.

Bashfield says the number of people employed by the show are ”in the hundreds” when set construction, location staff, studio crew and catering are taken into account.

Last year’s MasterChef was the struggling Ten Network’s top-rating regular show, attracting an average 1.227 million viewers across its 70-episode, 12-week run.

The finale averaged just under 1.9 million, with a national peak of 3.185 million.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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