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MasterChef tells Pete and Manu how to fix My Kitchen Rules

Herald Sun - Switched On - - FRONT PAGE - COLIN VICK­ERY NA­TIONAL TV WRITER

They may be pro­fes­sional ri­vals but the judges on MasterChef

Aus­tralia have some friendly ad­vice for their TV coun­ter­parts — Pete Evans and Manu Feildel — about just why the rat­ings may have sim­mered for this year’s My Kitchen Rules.

As MKR heads to­wards its grand fi­nale this Sun­day night (8pm, Seven) and MasterChef kicks off its new sea­son on Mon­day (7.30pm, Ten), the lat­ter is keen for their former foes to learn from the pro­duc­tion mis­takes they’ve made.

“For one year it was bonkers,” Matt Pre­ston tells Switched On. “There was no au­di­tion tour. We weren’t in­volved in pick­ing the con­tes­tants. There was no top 50.” The re­sult? “We came in with a group of con­tes­tants picked by other peo­ple.”

That is ex­actly what hap­pens ev­ery year on My Kitchen Rules, with Evans and Feildel hav­ing no say on who com­petes — and the MasterChef judges reckon that is a big mis­take.

“We’re friends with Pete and Manu and the truth is, would I go and do that show — no,” Calom­baris says.

“We don’t let con­tes­tants bicker among each other on

MasterChef Aus­tralia. There is none of that. We know that if they are sup­port­ive of each other the food will be good.”

View­ers who have seen the on-air pro­mo­tions for sea­son nine of MasterChef know the stan­dard of cook­ing re­flects the qual­ity con­trol of con­tes­tants.

“We have got 24 po­ten­tial win­ners. What I love about this year’s con­tes­tants is that they are so se­ri­ous. There is no muck­ing around. When­ever they aren’t cook­ing in chal­lenges they have their heads in cook books study­ing.”

Pre­ston adds: “Last year it took the con­tes­tants three or four weeks to get go­ing but this year’s batch came in and they were putting up great stuff from day one.”

This year’s roll call in­cludes con­tes­tants as young as 18, a gen­er­a­tion raised on a diet of

MasterChef and watch­ing YouTube cook­ing tu­to­ri­als.

Me­hi­gan ex­plains: “We’ve re­alised peo­ple un­der 25 think dif­fer­ently about food. The past 10 years has seen an enor­mous change in the food scene. You get flavours from them where you think ‘that is un­usual’ ... then taste it and go ‘that’s all right’.”

Pre­ston, 53, Me­hi­gan, who turned 50 in Fe­bru­ary, and even Calom­baris, at 38, all felt their age at times but that gen­er­a­tion gap re­ally hit home dur­ing one chal­lenge (which served as the equiv­a­lent moment to when a young singer on The Voice doesn’t know who the Bea­tles are).

“We set this chal­lenge based around pars­ley, sage, rose­mary and thyme — the ti­tle of a Si­mon and Gar­funkel hit,” Me­hi­gan says.

“We re­vealed the pars­ley and sage and asked what was next and one of the young con­tes­tants said basil. An­other said co­rian­der. When Ge­orge said, ‘No, thyme’, they all went ‘Why?’ We knew then that we were talk­ing to a dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tion of food­ies.”

WATCH MASTERCHEF AUS­TRALIA, TEN, MON­DAY, 7.30PM

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