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MasterChef judge George Calombaris looks downcast after being fined $200,000 in wage scandal


George Calomobaris, 40, has had a stressful week after he was fined for underpaying staff at his Melbourne restaurants $7.8 million.

So it was no surprise to see the embattled MasterChef judge looking downcast while attending Queensland’s food and wine festival – Regional Flavours on Saturday.

The celebrity chef failed to crack a smile backstage at Brisbane’s South Bank Parklands, as he was pictured for the first time since his MAdE Establishment group was slapped with a $200,000 fine as part of a deal with the Fair Work Ombudsman. 

Tense: George Calombaris looked downcast while attending Queensland's food and wine festival - Regional Flavours on Saturday

Tense: George Calombaris looked downcast while attending Queensland’s food and wine festival – Regional Flavours on Saturday

At one point, he appeared to have a tense discussion with an unidentified man.

The TV personality looked pensive backstage but moments later, he changed his demeaour and appeared upbeat as he walked onto the stage before a large crowd.

He was among celebrity guests including fellow MasterChef judges, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan, who cooked up a storm on the main stage with event host Miguel Maestre.

Downcast: The celebrity chef failed to crack a smile backstage at Brisbane 's South Bank Parklands, as he was pictured for the first time since his MAdE Establishment group was slapped with a $200,000 fine as part of a deal with the Fair Work Ombudsman

Downcast: The celebrity chef failed to crack a smile backstage at Brisbane 's South Bank Parklands, as he was pictured for the first time since his MAdE Establishment group was slapped with a $200,000 fine as part of a deal with the Fair Work Ombudsman

Downcast: The celebrity chef failed to crack a smile backstage at Brisbane ‘s South Bank Parklands, as he was pictured for the first time since his MAdE Establishment group was slapped with a $200,000 fine as part of a deal with the Fair Work Ombudsman

Is everything ok? At one point, he appeared to have a tense discussion with an unidentified man (left)

Is everything ok? At one point, he appeared to have a tense discussion with an unidentified man (left)

Animated: The Channel Ten star used a series of hand gestures to convey his message

Animated: The Channel Ten star used a series of hand gestures to convey his message

Animated: The Channel Ten star used a series of hand gestures to convey his message

It comes just after George was hit with a $200,000 fine for underpaying 515 staff between 2011 and 2017, by nearly $8million.

In a statement to The Herald Sun, he apologised and said he is ‘deeply sorry for what has happened’.

‘There are two important things for Australians to know. The first is that when we discovered there were incorrect payments to members of the team, we self reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman and co-operated with their investigation,’ he said.   

Support: The TV personality looked pensive backstage but moments later, he changed his demeaour and appeared upbeat as he walked onto the stage before a large crowd. Pictured with fellow chef and event host Miguel Maestre (right)

Support: The TV personality looked pensive backstage but moments later, he changed his demeaour and appeared upbeat as he walked onto the stage before a large crowd. Pictured with fellow chef and event host Miguel Maestre (right)

Appearance: George was among celebrity guests including fellow MasterChef judges, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan, who cooked up a storm on the main stage with Miguel

Appearance: George was among celebrity guests including fellow MasterChef judges, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan, who cooked up a storm on the main stage with Miguel

‘The second is that our team members, past and present, have been back-paid in full, and the vast majority repaid before October 2017 in consultation with Fair Work.

‘There is no excuse for this and we have the ­systems in place now.’

Orlaith Belfrage, a former waitress at George’s Hellenic Republic in Melbourne, recently called for him to be fired from MasterChef after he was fined.

Brigning the laughs: George and Miguel entertained the crowd at the packed event

Brigning the laughs: George and Miguel entertained the crowd at the packed event

Familiar face: MasterChef contestant, Nicole Scott (right), made a guest appearance

Familiar face: MasterChef contestant, Nicole Scott (right), made a guest appearance

‘George should pay a serious price for this massive theft of workers’ wages,’ she said according to ABC.

‘He should be taken off MasterChef. How many more excuses does George get?’

In addition, Unions NSW launched a petition calling for his axing.   

Outrage: Orlaith Belfrage (pictured), a former waitress at George's Hellenic Republic in Melbourne, recently called for him to be fired from MasterChef after he was fined

Outrage: Orlaith Belfrage (pictured), a former waitress at George’s Hellenic Republic in Melbourne, recently called for him to be fired from MasterChef after he was fined 

Channel Ten is standing by the embattled TV star. 

‘George and MAdE Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter. George has the support of Network 10. We will not be making any further comment,’ a spokesperson said in a statement to Channel Nine.

Standing by him: Channel Ten is standing by the embattled TV star. In a statement, a spokesperson said - 'George and MAdE Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter. George has the support of Network 10. We will not be making any further comment'. Pictured with co-hosts Gary Mehigan (left) and Matt Preston (right)

Standing by him: Channel Ten is standing by the embattled TV star. In a statement, a spokesperson said – ‘George and MAdE Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter. George has the support of Network 10. We will not be making any further comment’. Pictured with co-hosts Gary Mehigan (left) and Matt Preston (right)

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