Masterchef judges Michael P. Dearth, Nadia Lim and Vaughan Mabee. Photo / Supplied
Nadia Lim has responded to accusations made by a disgruntled Masterchef contestant that the show was rigged, saying the claims left her "baffled".
Earlier this weekend, contestant Felina Kee took to social media to post a scathing rant about the hit show's latest season. In the 50 minute video, she breaks down a lengthy list of allegations, which include declarations the show amounted to "psychological manipulation" and that the judges were "puppets" who didn't even taste the food before making their final decision.
Media giant Warner Bros Discovery was the first to deny the accusations and now Lim herself has responded. Talking to Francesca Rudkin on Newstalk ZB's Sunday Session, Lim seemed to take particular offence at Kee's claim that the producers decided everything, saying "I can tell you 110 per cent hand on heart, that the three of us judges make every single call when it comes to critiquing the food."
The all-star host explains how everything in the show from the challenges to the eliminations, is based upon the food and the critiques given by the judges, so she was confused by Kee's claims the show was completely rigged.
Lim says most contestants know what to expect from a physically and mentally straining competition such as this, clarifying that "it's not like cooking in your kitchen, you've gotta cook and the camera's there and there's this added pressure of having to cook in a time frame.
"Most people get that, but it's a high-pressure situation."
So whether Kee spoke the truth or is just an over-worked, over-stressed victim of the tolls of reality TV remains to be seen but for now, Lim has fervently denied the allegations. Warner Bros Discover confirmed Kee had not raised any issues or complaints during the filming of the show.
For now, Masterchef NZ is due to return tonight after a six-year hiatus. Twenty-seven contestants are vying to win one of the 16 coveted aprons and make it to the new MasterChef kitchen at Vingard near Arrowtown.
Celebrity cook, entrepreneur and season two winner Nadia Lim is the lead judge, and she will be joined by renowned chef Vaughan Mabee and award-winning restaurateur Michael Dearth.
The new season of MasterChef NZ airs tonight at 8.30pm on TV3.