WA's all-girl team of Chloe James and Kelly Ramsay are holding its own on My Kitchen Rules but James denies the claws are out in the scramble for the grand final.
"Kelly and I are in it to win - there's a $250,000 prize at the end - but we certainly don't thrive on the other teams' misfortunes," she said. "It may come across differently on TV but we wouldn't smirk or laugh when the judges criticise contestants."
It's not how it comes across, especially when they take on Victorian twins Helena and Vikki Moursellas, who cried when Manu Feildel told them they lacked confidence with their "mystery" meal. Snarls and frowns make for entertaining viewing but behind the scenes it's hard work. Ms James bit the bullet and left behind her seven-year-old son, partner and job as contract advisor in the resource sector to try her luck on the show. Ms Ramsay quit her position in business development in oil and gas.
"There's been a lot of talk about Kelly and me versus the twins and, yes, there's rivalry between us because it's a competition with a lot of money up for grabs," she said. "They're different to us - Kelly and I both come from pretty full-on demanding careers and I'm a mum - and it's partly a case of being under the same roof with two people you're not necessarily going to get on with in real life, so there are going to be dramas. But we were devastated when they were crying and felt sorry for the girls because we're not mean people and there's no way we would laugh or smile at someone who's upset; it's just not human nature.
"You have to remember there's about two-and-a-half hours of judging and plenty of facial expressions along the way, so it depends on where the camera catches you. But at the end of the day, this is a cooking show; not a personality competition. There was always going to be a bit of tension in the room but I never felt it was going to get to the point where it would be nasty. We've never felt the pressure from the twins and we never really saw them as competition because we cook completely differently to them. There are other teams who we felt have been bigger competition - Cathy and Anna are incredible cooks and Josh and Danielle are also strong - but everyone focuses on the personalities."
The two women are a natural pairing, dovetailing different cooking styles for a perfect match. Ms James is into allergy-friendly, clean, healthy meals; Ms Ramsay does big, hearty food and uses a lot of offal. Win or lose, the pair hope to open a cafe around Mt Hawthorn down the track.
"I'm changing course and the plan is to do the whole chef thing in my own business," Ms Ramsay said. "The show's just cemented that and it's been a great learning experience. Yes, there's been rivalry but it's not fair to focus on just the girls; boys can be just as bitchy.
"We've been very close to Carly and Tresne and Thalia and Bianca and only wanted to see them do well. A lot of us were like family and we made a network among ourselves so we could help and support each other.
"In that sense, there was definitely a divide between contestants. Nonetheless, we didn't want to see the twins fail - though there's no love lost there."
'Nonetheless, we didn't want to see the twins fail - though there's no love lost there.'