Reuben Riffel began his career in the town where he was born  Franschhoek.

Durban - A new judge will be joining Benny Masekwameng and Pete Goffe-Wood for the coming season of M-Net’s MasterChef.

M-Net has confirmed that Reuben Riffel will appear as a permanent judge on the third season of the hit cooking series, replacing Andrew Atkinson.

Atkinson, who was known for his ability to balance high culinary standards with a generous level of empathy towards contestants, was on the judging panel for seasons one and two.

“At the end of last year he received an offer to fill the full-time position of executive chef for a hotel chain in Joburg – an opportunity that he could not refuse,” says an M-Net spokesman.

“Andrew’s permanent responsibilities in his new role mean that he can no longer commit himself to the busy schedule of the filming of the series.”

Atkinson says: “MasterChef exposed me to a diverse variety of wonderful, talented cooks from all corners of our beautiful country. Being on the show was an incredible experience, especially because I was flanked by two great colleagues, Pete and Benny.

“I can’t think of a better choice than Reuben to join them. We’ve been friends for many years and I have no doubt he will do the role of MasterChef judge justice.”

Riffel began his career in the town where he was born – Franschhoek. He started off at the Monneaux restaurant, establishing it as one of the Top 10 restaurants in South Africa, before moving to Cambridge in the UK.

After rave reviews abroad, he returned to his roots and his flagship restaurant, Reuben’s, in Franschhoek.

In 2009, Riffel opened his second Reuben’s at a boutique country hotel in the Robertson wine valley, and shortly thereafter the third Reuben’s was opened at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

His awards list includes that of Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year in the Eat Out awards of 2004, and Reuben’s in Franschhoek was ranked in South Africa’s Top 10 restaurants for three consecutive years. In addition to his successful restaurant portfolio, Riffel has also published three popular cookbooks.

Says Riffel: “Ever since the first season of MasterChef, my family and I have been big fans. Everyone was so proud of me when I appeared on the show as a guest in season one and I was lucky to spend some time with the contestants.

“Their enthusiasm and eagerness made me realise how privileged I am to be working in this industry. I am excited to join my good friends Pete and Benny in the kitchen, and hope to make a positive contribution to the show.

“I wish Andrew the best of luck with his new venture as I am sure there will be many people that will miss his presence in the series.”


* The first round of Masterchef auditions are to be held at Durban’s Suncoast Casino on Saturday February 15.

Amateur cooks who want to impress the new judging panel with their unique culinary skills need to be at older than 18 and a South African citizen who has not cooked professionally before.

As was the case in past seasons, open auditions for the new season of MasterChef, set to start later this year, require a pre-prepared cold dish.

However, the process for subsequent audition rounds has been tweaked slightly. - The Mercury

For all you need to know about MasterChef auditions, visit: