After a decade of winning the reality TV ratings war before crashing and burning last year, My Kitchen Rules is set to return in 2022 with celebrity chef Manu Feildel at the table as judge of the instant restaurants.
We’re happy to hear Manu is back on the menu, but the big question is who will sit beside him?
With disgraced former co-judge Pete Evans falling into obscurity after spruiking anti-vax messages and machines (for which he copped hefty fines), the Seven network says Manu will be “joined at the head of the table by one of the world’s biggest food stars”.
“I’m very excited to return to the head of the table and share my passion for food with you all. I can’t wait to be back in Australian homes again, meeting more incredible home cooks and sharing their food dreams. Bring on 2022!” Feildel said.
He told The Daily Telegraph on December 5 he was “sad” Evans won’t be joining him, saying “there have been some international names floating around”.
“Pete and I are great mates and nothing has changed there.
“We have worked together for a very long time and I love the guy. The fact he won’t be sitting next to me is not my choice,” he said.
The choice will be up to the network, and it’s still anyone’s guess.
“I’d love to see someone like Mary Berry (former Great British Bake Off judge) with class and experience, but Seven will go for talent which is brasher, more opinionated, more likely to agree to confected drama,” one industry insider tells The New Daily.
“Nigella is a front runner – outdated, but her retro obviousness will appeal to a mass market,” the source said.
Other contenders could be UK celebrity cook Rachel Khoo, 41, who previously slipped in as a guest judge in 2016, and LA-based Australian chef and restaurateur Curtis Stone.
What went wrong with the show?
On December 5, Seven chief executive officer James Warburton told news.com.au he was confident the redesign of the show will work, with just six couples cooking dinner parties in their kitchens.
“It was dominant for a decade, people loved it. So we’re bringing it back with a short, sharp run. We’ve shown what we can do with The Voice, so we’re confident it will work.
“It just chased a certain direction in my personal view. I sort of came on board as the last two seasons were going to air, but it chased villains and gossip and bitchiness and all that kind of stuff.
“(It had) really extended dinner parties. We’d blown it up to 60 episodes, so it was a massive commitment.”
The line-up of pairings will be announced some time after March, with the show still in casting mode over the next few months.
You just have to be in “a pre-existing relationship … friends, relatives, partners” – “real people cooking real food” – and be an aspiring cook over 18 years of age by March 13.
“It’s state versus state as the beloved competition goes back to its original recipe – real people cooking real food, in their own homes, serving love on a plate to the judges and their fellow contestants,” Seven says in a statement.
“Whichever way you dice it, My Kitchen Rules is Australia’s favourite cooking show, adored by millions.
“We can’t wait to serve the nation more of what they love: Real food, real people, cooking from the heart,” says the network’s programming director Angus Ross.
“It was the biggest show on TV for many years and we’re taking it back to its roots. We don’t want to give away too much right now, but it will be the original and the best My Kitchen Rules, reinvented for 2022,” he said.
When MKR started in 2010, it was among the highest-rated programs on Australian free-to-air television, winning a Logie award in 2014 for Most Popular reality program.
The Evans debacle and the hyped drama in 2018 between contestants Sonya and Hadil (who were kicked off the show for alleged bullying), saw the ratings plummet to just over 400,000 viewers.
Feildel’s return is somewhat of a surprise, with many in the industry claiming the show was dead in the water in May last year.
But after he finished his very short stint on SAS Australia, throwing in the towel after a harrowing ‘Death by Drowning’ task, he’s back where he belongs, ditching military exercises for Saturday night dinner parties.
Bon appetit, Manu!
My Kitchen Rules is back on Channel 7 and 7plus in 2022