TOP SECRET FILE: MASTER JUDGE
Name: Melissa Leong
She does the lot! She is currently a judge on Channel 10’s MasterChef and is also a television host, freelance food writer, broadcaster, critic, cookbook editor and marketer.
Scale of Notoriety (out of 5):
Melissa has become a bit of a household name ever since she was announced as the first Asian and female judge on MasterChef in 2020, however, she was well known in the foodie’s world beforehand.
Scale of Influence (out of 5):
Her influence has definitely been felt in the ways of her food reviewing, and her being the first female and Asian judge on Australia’s MasterChef, something which encourages young women and Asian-Australians to realise their potential in Australian media. She was also ranked fourth out of ten for the most culturally powerful people in Australia 2020 by The Financial Review.
Alive and judging / eating good food in Sydney!
Melissa was born in 1982 and was raised in Sydney with a love and passion for food. Being Singaporean, food is a central part of her cultural identity and understanding and she used this love of food to her advantage in her career. She has had a passion for food ever since she was little and “brought the weird lunches to school”. Growing up, she enjoyed playing with the over-achieving Asian stereotype and she graduated from the University of Sydney with a BA in economics and social sciences.
She initially got into digital advertising before moving into PR, Marketing and Digital Media Consulting where she was able to work with chefs and restaurants such as Adriano Zumbo and Gelato Messina. Working with these companies allowed her to put her foot in the door in the food industry.
She’s done the lot when it comes to anything regarding food! In 2009, she co-founded the hospitality group TOYS COLLECTIVE with chef Morgan McGlone, which was awarded for its contribution to industry innovation by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guides. She then went on to working on SBS’s The Chef’s Line as well as being the co-author of six recipe books and that’s just a summary of it all! Although she is best known for her judging on MasterChef, her amazing outfits and earrings are notorious and she continues to share her love of fashion and style tips on her Fooderati Instagram and website.
She is a second-generation Australian-Singaporean and her parents emigrated to Australia in the 70s. Her parents are both Singaporean with Chinese ancestry, with her mother being from Sichuan Provence and her father from Canton. Although she always knew her heritage and ancestry was mostly Chinese, she was surprised after doing a DNA test that she was also about 1% Native American!
- Patience: With health struggles, Melissa has said she has been able to learn and develop patience in her day-to-day life, which was something that wasn’t always her strong point.
- Writing: She’s mastered the art of writing just about anything to do with food, whether that be food critics and general food journalism, or co-writing cookbooks.
- Amazing Fashion Sense: She never fails to assemble an amazing outfit on MasterChef, or simply just for herself and her Instagram.
- Judgemental: Constantly judging all these foods on MasterChef must get exhausting!
Always puts together an amazing outfit paired with earrings to match!
Georgia Robinson is currently studying Journalism and International Studies (Majoring in Spanish) at the University of Technology Sydney. She is an aspiring journalist with a keen interest in global affairs by advocating multicultural Australian perspectives on a global scale. Georgia is an intrepid traveller with a curious mind and is inspired by SBS reportings.