The most recent season aired in 2020, having taken a break over last two years. This time around, Manu Feildel will be back at the table, and by his side will be food writer and TV cook extraordinaire, Nigella Lawson. Joining them will be 12 teams of hopeful home cooks who will be battling it out to be crowned king or queen of the kitchen.
Mediaweek spoke to Seven’s head of reality Sylvia D’Souza about rebooting the iconic format.
With shows like Hey, Hey It’s Saturday finding themselves back in the spotlight, a two year break isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things. D’Souza says that despite the hiatus, now was the time to bring the format back in its original form.
“We’re ready for what I think is MKR back to basics – the heartwarming series that we once had. It felt right to do it now, and with Nigella Lawson at the helm with Manu, it’s perfect.
“It’s without the bitchiness of the later series. That’s really the difference.”
Having previously set the table for Manu and Pete Evans, this time around the cooks will be plating up for Manu and Nigella. D’Souza says that the team had their “fingers and toes crossed” that the queen of home cooking would say yes to taking part, and were thrilled when she eventually did.
“The warmth she brings to the table is genuine – it’s hard to explain. You really feel her love for food and her wish for everyone to do well, and the rapport between Manu and Nigella is so full of respect and fun. The best way to describe it is that it really feels like an intimate dinner party with a group of people who just love food.
“We’re just very grateful that she had the time, and that she could see that this is something that she wanted to do. It’s a perfect fit for her.”
Australia loves cooking shows, and there is no shortage of them out there. For D’Souza, what makes My Kitchen Rules stand out amongst other cooking shows in the market is the fact that it so clearly connects with the people watching at home.
“Everyone has to cook a meal. There are a lot of people who have family recipes from their grandmothers, or their mothers, or their grandfathers that mean a lot to them. I think MKR is the most relatable cooking show that we’ve got out there.
“It’s not about complicated recipes and sous viding things, and all these techniques. It’s about great flavours, good cooking, bringing your family recipes to the fore and making them proud.”
The enormity of that challenge isn’t lost on the contestants.
“People bring their heart and soul into it,” says D’Souza. “There’s a lot at stake when you’re trying to represent your culture and your family. The jeopardy is real.”
When casting for the series, D’Souza says there were three main criteria the team kept an eye open for.
“People who can cook – that does help! – people who’ve got a story to tell, and people that you want at your dinner table.”
Ultimately, D’Souza hopes that viewers are left with a smile on their faces and a new meal or two on their list of dinner ideas.
“I would love for everyone to have a great time watching it. That’s the hope for it.
“There are recipes in there that I’ve started cooking, so I’m hoping people get recipes they want to cook. I hope people get excited about their own family recipes, and have more dinner parties themselves to celebrate the love and warmth of home cooking. It sounds a bit naff, but it’s true.”
My Kitchen Rules premiers 7.00pm Sunday, 7 August on Channel Seven and 7plus.