Masterchef fans are crying foul over Sunday night’s results and claiming winner Brent Draper should not be eligible for a deal with main sponsor Coles.
Draper, a former boiler maker who also competed in the show’s 2021 season before quitting due to mental health reasons, was crowned the 2023 winner on Sunday night over Queensland runner-up Rhiannon Anderson.
However viewers were quick to point out that Draper has worked as a content creator for Coles for the past two years, providing recipes and other food-related content for the supermarket giant.
Brent Draper was named the controversial winner of MasterChef 2023
Brent’s 10Play bio clearly states that he has worked for major sponsor Coles since his first appearance on MasterChef in 2021.
Coles has long served as MasterChef’s main sponsor and spends around $6 million per season spreading its logo and products across the reality juggernaut.
Some viewers claimed that Draper’s status as a Coles employee breached MasterChef’s strict entry criteria and was a ‘conflict of interest’.
Others even claimed that MasterChef guest judge and longtime face of Coles, Curtis Stone, gave Draper an advantage in one of the show’s final challenges that ultimately led to fan favorite Declan Cleary’s eviction.
Hundreds of fans have taken to sites and Reddit forums to argue the point, with some fans even calling for ‘Setup Joy’ to be revised.
‘What what!?!? Do you know all about this? Doesn’t that fall under conflict of interest?,’ one Reddit user fumed, adding a copy of Draper’s TenPlay bio that clearly states he’s worked for Coles since 2021.
Some fans are calling for the ‘setup win’ to be revised and Anderson (second from left) named the new winner.
Queenslander Rhiannon Anderson finished second behind Draper in the 2023 final
Another wrote: ‘My wife has been saying since day one of this season that everything is set up for Brent to win. I’ve always struggled with that idea, because I want to believe that (MasterChef) is and always will be fair. I’m not sure now.’
Of the challenge Draper won in the final episodes of the show, Facebook user Linda Stewart noted: ‘I read… that Brent has been an ambassador for Coles for the past two years.
‘If this is true, wouldn’t it be a conflict of interest to have Curtis Stone, a Coles chef ambassador, in charge of this challenge? Wouldn’t that give Brent an advantage?’
Others were more pragmatic, indicating that it was unlikely that Coles executives would have a say in the outcome of the show.
But one added Draper’s position on the show ‘comes close’ to breaking the rules in their application guidelines which state entrants’ main source of income cannot be ‘preparing and cooking fresh food in a professional environment’.
Since leaving MasterChef prematurely in 2021, Draper has toured Australia in a converted bus with his family in what he describes as the ‘holiday of a lifetime’.
But along with Coles’ own YouTube videos, he also contributes recipes and cooking content through Coles’ content platform.
Some believe the link ultimately led to favorable treatment from the producers, claiming a ‘smooth ride’ to the finals at the expense of other contestants.
Curtis Stone, pictured leaving Melbourne this week, is the long-serving face of Coles on a deal worth around $2 million a year.
Former boiler maker Brent Draper first competed on MasterChef in 2021 but quit due to mental health
Theorists claim Draper got a ‘smooth ride’ to the final at the expense of other contestants, including Declan (pictured).
‘This whole season is a fraud… Brent’s/MCU’s redemption arc has been obvious for weeks. She is talented in her area but the production did everything possible to give her a smooth ride to the finale,’ raged one Reddit user.
‘Crown Rick! A much more deserving winner!’ Said another Facebook user.
A Ten spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia that Draper’s arrangement with Coles had no impact on the results of MasterChef.
‘After Brent Draper stepped away from MasterChef Australia in 2021 due to mental health reasons, Coles has stepped up to support Brent’s mental health journey,’ the spokesperson said.
‘Since then, Coles and Brent have collaborated on various recipe developments and appearances.
‘Brent’s return to MasterChef Australia in 2023 is in no way connected or influenced by his relationship with Coles. Like every other contestant, Brent secured his place in the competition based on merit.
‘Dishes plated by MasterChef Australia contestants are judged solely by the show’s judges, based entirely on the quality of the food presented. Brent works full-time as a digital content creator for various brands.’
Meanwhile, Sunday night’s emotional finale, which also served as an official tribute to late judge Jock Zonfrillo, marked the show’s lowest-rated finale since MasterChef began airing in 2009.
The show drew a five-city metro average of just 614,000 viewers Sunday night, down miles from last year’s 755,000 and the 1.5 million who tuned in for the 2020 finale.
The emotional-discussed night finale also served as an official tribute to the late Judge Jock Zonfrillo,
Sunday night’s finale ranked as the show’s lowest-rated finale since MasterChef began
The season marked the lowest overall viewing average since MasterChef debuted in 2009.
This season averaged around 522,000 per episode – a stark contrast to the show’s glory days from 2009 to 2018 when it averaged around 1.5 million viewers per night.
But Ten has already released the casting call for the show’s 16th season, which will also feature a changed judging lineup as the show continues its search for Zonfrillo’s replacement.
Zonfrillo died tragically in his hotel room at Zagame’s House on Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne on 30 April and was found by police at around 2am on Monday, 1 May – the same day Channel Ten was due to premiere the fifteenth season of MasterChef Australia.
He is survived by his third wife Lauren and his four children: grown-up daughters Ava and Sophia from his first two marriages, and Alfie and Isla with Lauren.
Channel Ten has released its casting call for MasterChef 2024 which closes in mid-August