MasterChef star’s careers news after being cleared of sex charges


Former MasterChef Australia star Ben Ungermann has announced his latest career move (Picture: Ben Ungermann/ Instagram)

A former MasterChef contestant has announced his next career move two years after being cleared of sex charges.

Back in 2021, Ben Ungermann avoided jail after initially facing three sex assault charges against a teenage girl.

Ungermann, who appeared on the Australian version of the cooking series in 2017 returned for the 12th season three years later but was arrested during filming and left the competition.

Details of the charges later emerged in court, where it was revealed he’d plied the 16-year-old girl with alcohol before grabbing her on a hotel bed.

While the three sex assault charges against him were dropped, he pleaded guilty to common assault and was put on a court diversion program which allows low-level offenders to avoid a criminal record.

No finding of guilt was made against him, but he was ordered to make a $1,000 (£524) donation to the White Ribbon Foundation, get counselling and write a letter of apology.

He previously appeared on the show in 2017 and then 2020, but was arrested during filming (Picture: Channel Ten)

Now, three years after being arrested, the 39-year-old has announced he is opening a restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa, called Ben’s Italian.

‘EXCITING NEWS… my new restaurant is coming!’ he posted on Instagram this week.

‘A fun fact about me, I make really great Italian food.’

He then revealed he’d be opening a pop-up restaurant, which launched today.

The news comes a few days after he initially distanced himself from his ice-cream business, Ungermann Ice Cream.

‘I AM NO LONGER A PART OF UNGERMANN ICE CREAM… I ask my friends, fans and family to no longer support the business as it is no longer anything to do with my brand,’ he wrote on Instagram earlier this week.

‘I pray the current owners do through right thing and up hold my standards,’ he added, tagging business partner Leigh Anne Williams.

He was kicked off the show after facing three sex assault charges (Picture: Ten)

However he then went on to delete the post and release a follow-up statement saying: ‘Dear South Africa. I wish to rectify Sunday’s post. The statement I made was rash and emotional.

‘I would like to clarify that Ungermann Ice Cream has been a 1-year adventure with its many ups and downs.

‘My choice to leave the company is for personal reasons. I do wish Ungermann Ice Cream Cape Town the very best and I am happy that my ice cream legacy will continue on in South Africa.’

He went on to write that Leigh-Anne had been an ‘avid supporter’ of his and he ‘appreciated her encouragement and partnership during my time in this beautiful country’.

‘She has been the most instrumental and impactful person in my life and I truly do wish her the best and would like to apologise publicly to her for Sunday’s post.

‘I only wish the best for her and the team and would like to retract my post on Sunday and ask you to continue supporting this business that was built out of love. Much love South Africa.’

At the time of the offence back in 2020, Ungermann had travelled to Melbourne for filming for the spin-off series MasterChef: Back to Win.

They were dropped however Ungermann pleaded guilty to a common assault charge (Picture: AAP Image/James Ross)

He and the young girl had dinner, drunk sake and spoke about Ungermann’s relationship breakdown before the assault.

Ungermann said he was going to get ‘s**tfaced’ before returning to the hotel room, asking the girl for a hug and pulling her onto his chest.

At the time his barrister, Abbie Roodenburg, said Ungermann took responsibility for what happened, and it was a ‘one-off brief touch’ and was ‘out of character’.

‘This was a one-off brief touch,’ the barrister also said, adding that it was ‘out of character’.

He went on to say the ‘public personality’ lost his reputation and sponsorships gained through his first appearance on MasterChef in 2017, when he was runner-up.

Ms Roodenburg also said a criminal conviction would have made it hard for Ungermann to move forward and pursue work overseas.

MasterChef airs on Channel Ten in Australia.

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