The robust flavours and larger-than-life characters of the Big Apple gave Dan and Steph Mulheron the final inspiration they needed to follow their food dream.
Ten months after being crowned the winner of the Seven Network's runaway ratings success My Kitchen Rules, the couple - whose strong cooking skills and struggle to conceive through IVF treatment made them a favourite with viewers - launched their own eatery in their hometown of Hervey Bay.
Eat @ Dan and Steph's opened its doors last month to locals keen to try the honest flavours of the foodies who came to be affectionately known as "the tradie and his little lady".
The Queensland couple collected $250,000 when they won the fourth series of the reality cooking series.
"When we won last April, it was a very overwhelming time," Ms Mulheron said. "We did a lot of appearances and cooking demonstrations across regional Queensland, and it gave us an opportunity to say thanks to our supporters.
"Last November, we decided to have the holiday of a lifetime in America - for five weeks we ate everywhere and were inspired by so many dishes we tried. About halfway through our trip, we'd made our decision to open our own place in our home town. We'd love to bring our family up here one day, and it's always been home."
Despite some tempting offers, including an invitation for him to take up a traineeship at guest judge and mentor Colin Fassnidge's 4Fourteen restaurant in Surry Hills, the couple opted to keep the Dan and Steph brand together.
"Everything that's on our menu is our personalities on the plate," Ms Mulheron said. "We have 14 items on the menu, and The Reuben is one of our favourites. It was inspired by New York - it has a nice salad over toasted bread with corned beef soaked in bacon stock and served with Swiss cheese."
The Louisiana-inspired Danny Boy - a sausage sandwich with all the trimmings including bacon and maple syrup - is also popular.
"We haven't forgotten about our sausage dream," Ms Mulheron said. "We are working towards stocking them in IGA stores across Queensland after the Peppercorn Food Company picked them up."
As for plans to start a family, that dream will stay on the backburner as things heat up in the kitchen. "Trying IVF again is still one of our next major goals - we still want to start a family, but we want to make sure the eatery and the sausage lines are established first."
Meanwhile, book deals, appearances, catering contracts, overseas jaunts and ambassadorships have kept some of the show's other favourites busy since filming last season wrapped to a final audience of 2.952 million.
After appearances on Australia's Next Top Model, The Morning Show and Sunrise, Bondi boys and personal trainers Luke Hines and Scott Gooding will become tourism ambassadors in Santa Monica, California this month. Their clean-living lifestyle and cooking abilities caught the eye of advertising executives looking for fit foodie types to promote Australia in the fitness-obsessed beachside city. In between trips to the US, the close friends are planning more books in their Clean Living series.
In Adelaide, Jenna Jaede and Joanna Stirn still talk most days as they each juggle the demands of running food businesses.
Ms Jaede is still a cupcake queen, making more than 300 cupcakes and countless tartlets for businesses across the city from her Le Pink Petite patisserie. Her trip to Paris this year taught her more about French pastry and croissants and she will soon expand her line of wood-fired breads.
"Every contestant would say that being on MKR was at times crazy but studying food for six months teaches you so much," Ms Jaede said.
Victorian cousins Chris Cavanagh and Sam Newton ride together and catch up for coffee in between giving cooking demonstrations and classes. "Sam did a book on pasta," Mr Cavanagh said. "And I just started a raw and organic dessert business from my home in Glen Iris."
'About halfway through our trip, we'd made our decision to open our own place.'