Reality TV

Is My Kitchen Rules fake or real? Former contestants set the record straight

Are they the ones doing the cooking? Do they really film at their own homes? Get the answers here.
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When it comes to My Kitchen Rules, we love seeing humble home cooks whip up incredible dishes with their loved ones – but we’d be lying if we didn’t love a bit of drama on the side.

The reality of reality television is that much of it is set up to make sure the viewers at home get the best experience. So how much can we believe?

In the years since the show debuted, viewers have questioned everything from whether the contestants really are a bunch of Average Joes to whether Manu’s accent is even real.

Spoiler alert, it is 100% real.

With the 2023 season of My Kitchen Rules kicking off now, we’re here to set the record straight and investigate just how real everyone’s favourite cooking show is.

Manu will return to MKR alongside new co-judge, international dessert queen Nigella Lawson.

(Image: Seven)

Are the contestants actors?

While some of the drama may seem a little unreal, the MKR contestants are just an average bunch of Aussies who are crazy about food.

In fact, on the application process for the show, it clearly states that “team members must have a pre-existing relationship. E.g. friends, relatives, partners, etc.”

But that hasn’t stopped the public from quizzing the contestants about it.

When asked about the show’s biggest myths on the 10th anniversary special, season seven’s Jordan Bruno said, “My favourite is, ‘You’re a paid actor on MKR aren’t you? And I was like; one, yes I’ve got lots of talent, two, none of them are acting.”

“Every team is there for a different reason,” judge Manu Feildel told TV WEEK.

“Some are there for the cash, some for a life change and some to be on TV. You never know until you sit around the table. But if they’re not there for the right reason, they go pretty quickly.”

It’s not scripted: My Kitchen Rules shows real people and real drama.

(Image: Seven)

As for all the feuds, when you have a bunch of big personalities all grouped around one table, things are bound to get messy and those fights are far from scripted.

“It’s part of the recipe for the show’s success – you need a little bit of spice to make it work!” says Manu.

Season nine’s Roula told the Sydney Morning Herald that from the very first instant restaurant, she and teammate Rachael did not get along with opponents Jess and Emma.

“The moment we walked in there, those girls looked up and down at us and it continued. People are like, ‘oh my god, this is so scripted’. Well, it’s not scripted. Anything we say to each other in that room is real.”

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Do the contestants really cook?

The short answer to this is yes, and former contestants are keen to point this out.

“So many people come up to us and ask what it’s really like,” season two winner Bella said on the show’s 10th anniversary special. “You saw what it’s really like, because it’s real.”

“No one else would come in and cook that badly for us!” season eight’s Emma laughed.

By finale time, it may look like the contestants are getting a helping hand from the professionals, but they’re on their own for the entire competition.

“Do you know how shocked we were when they told us there were no chefs to help us?” Lauren, who in the 2016 runner up team, joked.

If you want to star on MKR, be prepared to cook.

(Image: Seven)

Can they cook whatever they want?

While the contestants usually have skills in the kitchen, they don’t always get to cook their dish of choice. After all, no one wants to watch everyone get tens every week!

Steph Mulheron, who won season four with her husband Dan, told Mamamia that during the months-long audition process, teams are forced to submit heaps of potential recipes to the producers.

“A lot of teams just copy and paste from the internet, and then submit them. Not knowing that they [producers] choose a three-course meal out of everything you’ve sent through. And then you get told about it at 6am on the day,” she said.

So when they say “I’ve never cooked this before,” that explains why.

And it’s not just the recipes – ex-contestants Roula and Rachael also confessed that they were made to cook with sponsored appliances, even in their own instant restaurants.

Season four winner Steph (pictured with husband Dan) set the record straight on what goes on behind the scenes.

(Image: Seven)

Do the judges really eat the food?

Former judge Pete Evans may have some controversial views on food, but it’s been confirmed by season four winner Steph that all of the judges (yes even Pete) eat the food.

“Yes he may only have one or two mouthfuls but he has the respect to taste everyone’s food,” she told Mamamia.

Pete confirmed this to the Daily Telegraph when he said, “I have never spat out food from MKR, and I have swallowed every single bit that I have ever had on the show.”

But when we see the judges eating on screen, that’s not the first time they’ve tasted it.

Pete told AAP, “We usually eat it within a minute or two of it being plated, but because of the logistics, we end up eating another dish later on that’s been sitting there a little bit longer.”

“We eat the food hot in all situations because of the logistics of it, being a TV show, it has to be done off camera. We have already judged the dish previously, otherwise it’s not fair on the teams.”

They may look dubious, but trust us, Manu and Pete try the food.

(Image: Seven)

Are the instant restaurants actually filmed at real houses?

If you’ve ever wanted to apply for the show but can’t fit too many people in your house for the first round, fear not!

“There are a lot of teams who have smaller houses or have units that aren’t suitable for instant restaurants,” Steph said.

“You’ve got three or four cameras in front of you, lights, there’s about 50 staff behind the scenes, a food team running around, so you need a large space.”

For some teams, like Dan and Steph, they had the space in their actual home but for those with smaller places, the producers ask if they can borrow a friend or family member’s larger place for the night.

And of course if you’re cooking in a totally foreign kitchen, that can cause more drama which, let’s be honest, we all love to watch unravel.

If your house is too small to fit all the teams and camera crew in, it’s up to you to find a replacement instant restaurant venue.

(Image: Seven)

Is the finale pre-recorded?

Unlike live shows like I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, MKR is filmed way in advance. However, to avoid spoilers leaking, the winners don’t find out if they’ve won or not until it goes to air.

Winning contestants Dan and Steph from season four and season seven winners Tasia and Gracia have confirmed that two endings are filmed.

Yes, the confetti cannon goes off and everyone cheers for one team and then after make-up is touched up and the confetti is swept away, it’s all filmed again with the other team being announced as the winners.

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