Zola Nene, Gregory Czarnecki and Justine Drake are MasterChef South Africa’s all-new judges for season 4
Following the announcement of MasterChef South Africa’s return, M-Net is proud to announce that the highly anticipated fourth season of the reality competition series has an all-new judging panel. Chefs Zola Nene and Gregory Czarnecki and food editor Justine Drake will be the culinary masters whose palates and expertise will guide a new crop of contestants to the ultimate R1-million prize and the coveted title of MasterChef.
We were lucky enough to spend the day at the studio where we got to spend some time with the wonderful selection of judges and talented cast. Celebrated chef, food stylist and award-winning author Zola Nene’s professional journey with food started in 2007 when she enrolled at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch. She has since gone on to great success within the food industry and in television. Nene has authored two hugely popular cookbooks – 2017’s Simply Delicious and 2018’s Simply Zola. The effervescent Nene was also part of the judging panel for The Great South African Bake Off on BBC Lifestyle (DStv Channel 174) in 2017.
Born in France to parents who were gourmands, Gregory Czarnecki was destined to end up in the rich world of food. Head chef at The Restaurant at Waterkloof, he won the coveted Chef of the Year award from Eat Out in 2016. He served as a mentor for the prestigious S. Pellegrino Young Chef competition in Africa and the Middle East, and his French heritage is carried intelligently and creatively in his food.
A legend in the South African culinary world, Justine Drake is the launch editor of the award-winning Fresh Living magazine. Having worked in food media since 1988, she has authored five cookbooks. She is also an experienced TV host and during the pandemic, she started hosting Just Cook at Home SA with Justine Drake on YouTube.
With their varied experience and viewpoints, the judges will inject freshness to the new season of MasterChef SA, with Czarnecki bringing the perspective of an international chef and Nene and Drake being the local experts. “We’re very excited to have one of our most-loved shows – and toughest of reality competitions – returning to our screen after some time away. We have always had a rich crop of home chefs to choose from, but the pandemic has certainly created more, and this is the perfect time for MasterChef South Africa to make a comeback,” says Yolisa Phahle, CEO of General Entertainment and Connected Video for MultiChoice. On having two women on the MasterChef SA panel, Dave De Bie, Format Consultant at Banijay, the content producers who own the rights to the show, says: “We are focused on improving the gender balance in MasterChef judges worldwide. Over the last couple of years, we have increased the number of female judges and this is something we are continuing to improve upon. Out of 37 active markets, 26 now have female judges. We are delighted that MasterChef SA joins the likes of Israel, Norway and Brazil with two female experts on their panel.” The first edition of MasterChef SA since 2014, season 4 of the hit show will see 20 contestants battle it out over 20 episodes at the V&A Waterfront’s Makers Landing. The new season will air from Mondays to Thursdays, with the finale airing on Thursday 31 March 2022 at 18:00. South Africa’s best home cooks will face their toughest challenges yet in what will be a life-changing journey for many, and for the one who is ultimately crowned South Africa’s MasterChef!