RIVALS ADD SPICE
The new season of MyKitchenRules doesn’t stray too far from the ratings juggernaut’s winning recipe, writes Siobhan Duck
CELEBRITY chefs Colin Fassnidge and Manu Feildel aren’t worried that too many cooks will spoil the broth on Channel 7 this year.
They say they are confident that there’s more than enough room on Seven’s menu for Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston, and don’t feel remotely threatened by the new recruits’ upcoming show Plate of Origin.
In fact, Fassnidge believes that signing the former MasterChef
Australia stars will give the network a winning recipe in
“We’re like an Italian soccer team now because we have the best TV chefs in the business here at Seven,” Fassnidge laughs.
“I think there’s room for everybody.”
The outspoken Irishman is rather more pessimistic about
MasterChef’s future without Mehigan, Preston and George Calombaris in the kitchen.
“I think we all know how it ( MasterChef Australia) will go without them,” he says wryly. “They were a big part of what made that show a success.”
Feildel agrees: “We were all shocked when Channel 10 let the boys go but it was a great surprise to hear they were coming to Channel 7. I have been friends with them for 15 years.
“I was on the first season of
MasterChef actually and I have cooked with Gary and Matt before. I think this is a great move for the boys and for Seven. I don’t think too many cooks will spoil this broth.”
While Fassnidge believes
Ten was foolish to mess with its successful recipe, he’s adamant that Seven is doing the right thing by adding some extra spice to MKR.
This year will see the return of some of MKR’s most famous – and infamous – contestants as well as a batch of newcomers.
Adding to the drama, the two groups live together in luxury houses. They will then face off against each other with Feildel mentoring the seasoned MKR contestants and Fassnidge overseeing the reality rookies.
Pete Evans sits in judgment of everyone and has relished watching Feildel and Fassnidge go head-to-head.
“This is a lot of fun to be in the middle of,” Evans laughs.
“Both men are like brothers to me. Their friendly rivalry is just that, good blokes at the top of their craft, not afraid to step up to the plate ( pardon the pun). They love each other dearly but also want to win at all costs.”
Fassnidge believes the changes to the format have made everyone – even the judges – bring their A-game.
“I was excited when I found out they were doing this because I think I was getting a bit complacent to be honest,” Fassnidge says. “I needed a shake-up. I suggested to them a few years ago that we should all have our own teams, but they didn’t listen to me then.
“I think it’s actually the best season we have done.”
Feildel says the new format will give viewers an opportunity to see more of the “real Manu and the real Colin”.
“We are not just a judge or a host, we are chefs – that is what we were trained to do,” he says.
“I have been wanting to spend more time in the kitchen and this allows me to do that. Plus, I get to compete against Colin so that makes it even better. Chefs, as you know, have big egos. We like to be the best. Competition is in our nature.”
Both men enjoyed helping the contestants hone their kitchen skills. They also dish up some life advice on the side. “I would listen to my contestants talking about scoring and strategy and I would just say to them, ‘Focus on the cooking’, because ultimately it is the food which will win or lose the competition,” Feildel says.
Fassnidge has first-hand experience with the very worst side of social media. In 2015, he went to the police when a troll made threats against his young daughters.
He counsels contestants about how to deal with some of the online hatred that comes with being on reality TV. “They all go into it with their eyes open but they’re in the MKR bubble while we are filming,” he explains.
“Towards the end of it I always have a chat with them about it (dealing with abuse and trolls). I tell them not to read the comments on social media and on Twitter because it can get to you if you’re not in the right head space. We are all guilty of doing it (reading the comments when you know you shouldn’t). It’s hard not to sometimes. I wasn’t prepared for some of the stuff that was said to me. Going after someone’s family is just not on.”
There have been reports that the changes to MKR come as a means of competing with Channel 9’s salacious ratingsgrabber Married at First Sight.
But Fassnidge scotches any suggestion that the show is going downmarket to attract viewers.
“I think it’s human nature, isn’t it? People will always want to watch that sort of trainwreck TV,” he says of MAFS.
“But our new CEO isn’t interested in going down that path. He’s more interested in family values and family-friendly viewing.”
MY KITCHEN RULES: THE RIVALS
Recipe for success: Colin Fassnidge, Pete Evans and Manu Feildel return for MyKitchenRules:TheRivals.