MasterChef NZ: Contestant airs reality show’s ‘dirty laundry’ ahead of premiere this weekend


Masterchef NZ is back with new star judges. Video / Three

A disgruntled MasterChef NZ contestant has launched a scathing rant on social media ahead of this weekend’s premiere, alleging the show is a scam.

Felina Kee, a teacher from Otago, took to her Food by Felina Facebook page to spill some insider secrets to her followers, along with a lengthy written post outlining allegations about the show’s run.

Media giant Warner Bros Discovery denies all the allegations and said Kee did not raise any issues or complain about the show to the production team.

MasterChef NZ is due to screen this Sunday after a six-year hiatus, with Season 2 winner, celebrity cook and entrepreneur Nadia Lim as head judge. She is joined by celebrity chef Vaughan Mabee and award-winning restaurateur Michael Dearth.

Twenty-seven contestants are vying to win one of 16 coveted aprons and head to the new MasterChef kitchen in Vingard near Arrowtown.

In his Facebook post, Kee said “the show is about to air, and so is their dirty laundry.”

Felina Kee, MasterChef NZ contestant.  Photo / Provided
Felina Kee, MasterChef NZ contestant. Photo / Provided

Kee believed the judges were “puppets” and claimed they received lines through an earpiece. On one occasion, she alleged that the dishes were not tasted by the judges, but were filmed commenting on the meals.

She claimed that “all of the contestants knew they had never tasted the food but made these judgments, which were all wrong and wrong”.

And Kee added that in his opinion “no matter how our food was cooked, the judges made a decision, most likely based on what the director told them, what food the contestants were going to pass on.”

A Warner Bros Discovery spokeswoman denied this, saying “the opinions of the judges are truly their own.”

Kee also claimed that when she told staff she was leaving the show because of a “toxic” environment, a senior executive came to her room and “offered to give me inside information about the next challenge so that I get unfair treatment. advantage over others.

She also claimed the TV show was highly manipulated and convoluted, and “dangerous” to the contestants’ mental health.

MasterChef NZ contestant Felina Kee makes a series of allegations against the reality show during a Facebook live post on Friday.  Photo / Provided
MasterChef NZ contestant Felina Kee makes a series of allegations against the reality show during a Facebook live post on Friday. Photo / Provided

Warner Bros. Discovery denied the show was a dangerous place to work, saying it looked after contestants “extremely well”.

“Their well-being is our constant concern,” a spokeswoman said.

“They are in five-star accommodation, receive a stipend, have food, breaks and needs, and have a dedicated person constantly on hand to keep them informed of the production process and address any needs or concerns they may have. .Restoration and hydration is available on set at all times.”

“Production has a full-time health and safety manager who absolutely complies with all New Zealand WorkSafe health and safety regulations.”

Some of Kee’s allegations include:

• The show removed contestants’ watches, and the time displayed on the famous MasterChef clock was changed frequently to accommodate filming.
• Competitors were given faulty equipment to work with in hopes that it would create better television.
• Competitors were picked and eliminated based on their personality, not their ability to cook.
• She claimed a member of staff told her ‘don’t worry, you’re already there’ before the judges tasted her dish.
• Competitors were forced to cook in unsafe conditions and the experience was “psychological manipulation”.

In her post, she also tries to “get ahead of the smear campaign” by saying she has proof via medical certificates that she didn’t leave due to injury, which, according to her, would be a likely cover for her sudden departure from the show.

Kee claimed she left after a recommendation from the show’s adviser that the show was detrimental to her mental state. She claims to have fled in the middle of the night.

MasterChef NZ judges Michael P. Dearth, Nadia Lim and Vaughan Mabee ahead of Sunday night's premiere.  Photo / Provided
MasterChef NZ judges Michael P. Dearth, Nadia Lim and Vaughan Mabee ahead of Sunday night’s premiere. Photo / Provided

She went on to allege that she was at risk of civil legal action and being sued by Warner Bros. Discovery for speaking out.

During her live video, Kee encouraged MasterChef to “sue her for her last $10.”

“I’m broke – but I’m happy.”

Kee became emotional towards the end of the video, saying she viewed the experience as “psychological manipulation”.

“It’s not okay.

“It’s really scary that they’re allowed to do this to people, that it’s somehow justified.”

A Warner Bros. Discovery spokeswoman said Kee’s comments “severely defame the production company, the show, its broadcaster, format owners, judges, appearing talent and the team working on the show.”

The claims about the show were “false and malicious”.

“At no time did Felina Kee complain to anyone in production about how she was treated by production, during production or after she chose to leave,” she said.

“We provide all applicants with professional support in the form of follow-up sessions with the show’s psychologist, in accordance with our due diligence protocols.”

She said Kee’s claims caused mental distress to contestants and MasterChef NZ judges.

“Our biggest concern now is to support the cast and crew of MasterChef NZ who have enjoyed their time and are delighted to have the show airing on Sunday,” she said.

In response to Kee’s claim that the show created such a toxic environment that the show’s on-site adviser advised her to leave, Discovery’s spokeswoman said she could not comment on the advice given to Kee.

“However, all contestants are vetted by police and interviewed by a licensed cognitive-behavioral psychologist before entering the show to ensure it is appropriate for them to participate in the program,” she said. declared.

She also denied that the judges were taught how to judge food.

“All three judges are at the top of their game in the industry and wouldn’t put their reputations on the line unless it was genuine,” she said.

“Like all TV shows, the director sometimes talks to them through an earpiece to direct, but the director doesn’t tell the judges what to say about their food criticism.”

She also said that MasterChef is primarily a cooking show rather than a popularity contest.

“Contestants are judged on their ability to cook. Progression through the series is based on ability to cook. Nothing is predetermined.”

She said it was not true that the conditions on the MasterChef set were unsafe.

The candidates are accompanied “by the producer, the health and safety officer, an attack nurse, the production manager and the producers of the story. Their well-being is our constant concern”.

She added that the contestants also enjoyed plenty of breaks during filming.


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