View Comments
WA MKR duo turn up the heat
WA contestants Chloe James and Kelly Ramsay. Picture: Leo Photography

Real food, real people. It's the promotional catchcry of Seven's smash hit My Kitchen Rules and the recipe behind its runaway ratings success. So says co-host Manu Feildel, who attributes viewers' seemingly insatiable appetite for the popular cooking show - a national audience of 3.27 million tuned into last year's finale - to its relatable format.

"I think people can relate to the challenges, they can relate to inviting people home, they can relate to cooking for 12, they can relate to the mess and the stress, and I think that's why people enjoy it: because they've been there themselves," the charming French-born chef-turned-TV star explains down the line from Sydney.

More from My Kitchen Rules

Of course, without clever casting, a cooking show runs the risk of falling flat like a bad souffle and My Kitchen Rules certainly rises to the occasion in the larger-than-life personality department.

Who can forget last year's "Spice Girls", Jessie Khan and Biswa Kamila, of NSW, whose catty comments overshadowed their culinary efforts?

The polarising pair was outdone later in the season by "gatecrashers" Sophia Pou and Ashlee Pham, also of NSW, who dished up a generous serve of controversy at the dinner table and set social media sites abuzz.

Ask Feildel about the drama and dynamics played out on screen, and he will tell you it simply mirrors our own messy lives and traits.

"I think it's just a representation of the human race," he says, with a laugh. "There are some good people and some bad ones, and some great cooks, and some not so good.

"Some people think they are and some people don't think they are, and so on, so it really is important in the mix because you need different types of people to make the world, I suppose."

Feildel's offsider, Pete Evans, says the show's success can be put down to a combination of ingredients.

"It's definitely wonderful that the show has become somewhat entrenched in the TV landscape over the last four years, and it's been a steady climb," Evans says. "If you look at the start to where we are now, the show has evolved around each and every series.

"We started off with a small amount of episodes in the first series and we tested the waters and we continued to swim in this great landscape, and Manu and I have had a great working relationship for over a decade now and we're like best mates.

"And it comes down to the casting as well, which always makes it quite interesting to see who the contestants are."

So, what can we expect from this season's cast of amateur cooks gunning for gourmet glory and the $250,000 cash bonanza?

Representing WA in Group 1 are "gourmet travellers" Chloe James, of Stirling, and Kelly Ramsay, of Mt Hawthorn, who, judging by the pre-season promotional campaign, appear to ruffle a few feathers with their culinary confidence.

The other pair of Sandgropers in Group 2 are "designer and miner" Jess Anderson, of Midland, and Felix Kemmer, of Dawesville.

"Chloe and Kelly are definitely a force to be reckoned with; they're very confident, they've got a lot of experience under their belt, they're lovely girls and they shouldn't be underestimated, that's for sure," Evans says.

"Jess and Felix are another very strong team . . . WA hasn't had a strong track record in My Kitchen Rules history and we're hoping this year that Jess and Felix or Chloe and Kelly can make it all the way to the end."

While the judges' table sees the return of familiar faces - respected chefs Guy Grossi, Colin Fassnidge, Karen Martini and Liz Egan - producers have added a couple of twists to the challenges, including the MKR Food Truck, a red semi-trailer fitted with a commercial kitchen.

"It's really taking people out of their comfort zone - not that they were ever in a comfort zone - but this is really putting them at the coalface, up nice and close to the paying public," Evans reveals.

Staying true to the show's slogan of "real food, real people", Evans is delighted to have forged friendships with several past contestants, including season two winners, Sydney sisters Sammy and Bella Jakubiak, who now run a successful catering company.

"We often work together and I always recommend them as my preferred caterers, and the girls are a couple of my best friends," he says.

"It's wonderful because without the opportunity of MKR, these people would never have had the confidence to go and pursue their food dream."