Ben Ungermann disappeared from MasterChef: Back to Win this week without any real explanation, and viewers are still desperate for answers.
And as the mystery surrounding his arrest during filming grows, the 33-year-old has resurfaced in Queensland, where he is now employed as a chef at a country retreat.
He is working at the Tommy Smith Cafe at Woodlands of Marburg, and has already created a special Indonesian menu for the venue.
New opportunity: MasterChef’s Ben Ungermann has resurfaced with a major announcement after being eliminated from the show following his arrest over an undisclosed matter
The heritage-listed resort shared a photo of Ben standing outside the front of the building, alongside the caption: ‘Woodlands of Marburg is proud to introduce new Gourmet Chef Ben Ungermann to the Woodlands family.
‘Many new exciting adventures ahead.’
It comes after Ben’s co-star Hayden Quinn revealed what was going through the contestants’ minds as they processed the news of his departure, which was briefly addressed by judge Jock Zonfrillo on Sunday’s episode.
New position: Ben (centre) is now employed as a gourmet chef at the Tommy Smith Cafe at Woodlands of Marburg, where he has created a special Indonesian menu
He told HuffPost Australia that Jock’s statement was the first and only time the matter was formally discussed on set – and the remaining chefs were completely blindsided.
‘It was a real shock for us because we had no idea, obviously,’ said the 34-year-old cookbook author.
‘We turned up and Ben wasn’t there and there was a bit of confusion, and then we heard exactly what you heard on TV last night and that’s pretty much it, that he’s not coming in.
‘I don’t really know much more than that, to be honest.’
‘It was a real shock… we had no idea’: It comes after Ben’s co-star Hayden Quinn (pictured) revealed what was going through the contestants’ minds as they processed the news of his departure, which was briefly addressed by judge Jock Zonfrillo on Sunday’s episode
He also explained why the contestants hadn’t got wind of Ben’s departure before it was addressed by Jock in the gantry.
‘It’s different this season because we don’t all live in the one big house like [before]. We’ve got our own apartments we share with one other person. It’s private,’ he told Now To Love.
‘So there could be times when you don’t see anyone for a number of days. You might only see someone in the kitchen.
‘Basically we turned up and Ben wasn’t there and Jock said what he said. That was it. I haven’t seen or heard from Ben since, so I know as much as you.’
Gone to ground: Hayden also told Now To Love that he had not ‘seen or heard from’ Ben (left) since he left the competition during filming in March
On Sunday’s episode of MasterChef, Scottish-born restaurateur Jock announced to the group that Ben had left the competition.
He said: ‘So, before we get to today’s challenge, we’ve got some news. You’re probably wondering where Ben is, yeah?
‘Due to a personal matter, Ben has had to leave the competition and he will not be returning.’
The contestants looked shocked, but the episode moved on with no further mention of the issue.
Gone! On Sunday’s episode of MasterChef, Scottish-born restaurateur Jock Zonfrillo (pictured) announced to the group that Ben had left the competition
Silence: The contestants looked shocked, but the episode moved on with no further mention of the issue
Viewers had concluded on Thursday that Ben’s arrest must have happened right before pop star Katy Perry filmed her guest appearance in March.
This is because he was noticeably absent from that episode, despite every other contestant being summoned to the kitchen.
MasterChef producers reportedly held crisis talks that month following the incident.
Executives called the show’s editors into an ’emergency meeting’ and told them to ‘cut him out the best you can’, according to New Idea.
Timeline: Viewers had concluded on Thursday that Ben’s arrest must have happened right before Katy Perry (centre right) filmed her guest appearance in March. Pictured with judges Andy Allen (left), Melissa Leong (centre left) and Jock Zonfrillo (right)
The incident apparently came as a shock to network bosses, with a source saying: ‘No one could have imagined something like that would ever happen.’
Ben himself has acknowledged his infrequent appearances on screen, saying in an Instagram post that ‘it’s up to MasterChef’ what happens in the editing suite.
News of Ben’s arrest surfaced on March 24, prompting a spokesperson for Endemol Shine to issue a brief statement to the media.
‘We can confirm Ben Ungermann has left the MasterChef Australia competition. As this is a police matter, we will not be making further comment.’
MasterChef continues Tuesday at 7.30pm on Channel 10