The pressure was always going to be on for the returning contestants to prove themselves in MasterChef's Back To Win season, but according to Woman's Day's on-set spies, tensions are escalating between the overly competitive cooks, who are desperate not to lose again this time around.
"None of them imagined they'd be back, so this coveted opportunity has brought with it a lot of friction and angst on to the set that nobody predicted," dishes a source.
"It's not all been hugs and kisses – when the cameras stopped rolling some contestants were quick to rush back to their apartments and practise for challenges rather than socialise," insists the insider.
Certainly this season has seen a firestorm of drama surrounding the MasterChef kitchen.
Last week Adelaide-based Laura Sharrad, 24, was branded "smug" and "tactless" by unimpressed fans, after an awkward encounter with Sarah Tiong, 29, exploded on set.
After Sarah's underwhelming attempt at the Mystery Box, Laura tried to comfort her, but her insistent questioning didn't sit well with the 2017 alum.
"Just give me a second!" snapped Sarah, before Laura was forced to turn her attention elsewhere.
"OK, I'm just going to hug everyone else," she muttered, leading fans to speculate about their apparent feud.
"Laura's gloating little dance at the end of the cook, where she asked everyone if they'd finished and delighted in their stress, ugh!" declared a fan.
Others noted the pasta whiz should have been more self-aware.
"Laura really has no tact! If someone's visibly upset, don't ask how they did over and over and expect sunshine and rainbows," sneered another.
It comes after contestant Sarah Clare, 33, was forced to deny claims she'd called Laura a b-tch at last week's Pressure Test.
A satisfied Laura visited Sarah Clare's station after her cook, where she quizzed Sarah about the elements of the challenge dish she'd missed.
The fashionable redhead told Laura she'd not been able to produce the chocolate soil, before Laura sharply said "that's alright" and walked away.
Eagle-eyed fans maintain that Sarah muttered "b-tch!" under her breath when Laura turned her back – claims Sarah refutes – despite being unsure about what she definitely said.
It comes just weeks after Hayden Quinn, 33, was caught paying out on fellow competitor Poh Ling Yeow, 46.
The restaurant owner failed to name Poh as part of this season's "great line-up" of chefs, before telling reporters she'd "had enough", referring to her extensive on-air time.
Similarly, last season's runner-up Tessa Boersma, 28, found herself at the centre of rumours last week after it was revealed she was fed up with Melissa Leong's apparent favouritism.
WATCH BELOW: Eliminated MasterChef contestant talks about the pressure of the competition. Story continues after video.
A week after it was revealed that MasterChef star Ben Ungermann was arrested by the Victorian sexual crime squad detectives and charged with two counts of sexual assault, following an alleged incident with a 16-year-old girl – charges he vehemently denies – the TV star is facing a new series of challenges.
Speaking to Woman's Day, the restaurant owner's ex-girlfriend and former manager Alicia Miller says, "I'm sorry to hear this has allegedly happened to some poor innocent girl. [Ben and I] parted ways professionally last year in June and I haven't had contact since then," she revealed.
Before his 2017 appearance on the franchise, Ben revealed it was Alicia who pushed him to go on the show.
"She really applied the pressure on me and said, 'You're really good, you should really just do it,' and the rest is history," he revealed.
After his relationship with Alicia finished, Ben, 36, moved on with South African radio and TV star Leigh-Anne Williams, with the pair believed to be secretly engaged.
But last week, Leigh-Anne was seen out and about without an engagement ring.
What's more, Ben has been erased from the show that made him famous, with Ten removing the cook from the show's opening credits.
On top of that, Ben has disappeared from his family's Brisbane-based dessert parlour, the Ungermann Brothers.
His identity has been removed from the lengthy "about us" section on the shop's website, which previously hailed him "the Ice-Cream King" and spoke of his and brother Danny's journey making "an ice-cream experience like no other".
Photos of him have also been removed.