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MasterChef Australia

Weds - Fri at 7.30pm TVNZ 1

Monday on MasterChef Australia

MasterChef Australia on TV ONE and TVNZ Ondemand

The MasterChef Australia judges are back to put Australian amateur chefs through their paces in one of televisions toughest challenges.

Chef Gary Mehigan, owner of acclaimed Melbourne restaurants, Fenix and Maribyrnong Boathouse, joins 31-year-old restaurateur George Calombaris, owner of three Melbourne restaurants and one in Greece, together with internationally acclaimed and revered food critic Matt Preston to judge the hopeful chefs.

In the second series of MasterChef Australia, the challenges will be bigger, the expectations higher and the competition more intense. From testing challenges aboard a cruise ship, cooking off against world-renowned chefs, to tasks that will test their cooking creativity, this season's batch of contestants will have to prove that they can handle the heat.

They will also be given the opportunity to learn from some of the best. For Mehigan, these contestants aren't just vying for the coveted MasterChef title. They are his apprentices and he is their mentor. "I love teaching people stuff," he says. "I want them to cook good food. You deliver the bad news first then give them the nice news afterwards. I never finish anything on a bad note."

Fellow chef Calombaris agrees that being able to inspire the contestants gives him a kick. He also sees another positive effect from series that pulled in over four million viewers for the finale in Australia.

"It's getting a generation of kids to eat better, understand about food better, and the only reason why I've worked that out is I have four nieces and nephews and I've been to all their schools. You go there and you hear kids talk about food."

MasterChef Australia 2010 begins with the top 50 contestants cooking a barbeque dish of their own choosing. The ten contestants who cook the dishes the judges like the least have to face an elimination round.

Guest judge, cookbook author Donna Hay judges the contestants as they then have to recreate her special pavlova recipe, with the five best pavlovas earning their cooks a place in the next round; but the other five contestants will be sent home.