Nearly three million viewers tuned in to watch Andy Allen take the MasterChef Australia title in 2012. But there was one person who didn't watch the show and had no idea who this former electrician from Newcastle in NSW was.
Her name is Alex Davey, and she's now set to walk down the aisle with the current MasterChef judge.
"When we met, she had no idea who I was,"Andy tells TV WEEK in an exclusive interview. "We were both at a party just after I won and a few people were talking about it. She kept saying, 'You won MasterChef?' She thought it was a joke."
The pair didn't start dating after that fateful night, but Andy says he always remembered Alex and, when their paths crossed again a few years later, he made sure he didn't let her go.
After dating for four years, Andy, 32, was excited to propose while on holiday in New Zealand earlier this year, although the normally chilled-out chef admits he was a bundle of nerves.
"I was so scared about the ring going off in the scanner at the airport and having to drop down on one knee and propose in front of the security guards," he says with a laugh.
Thankfully, his secret wasn't spoilt. But on the day of the planned proposal, as happens to many couples, things didn't quite go to plan.
"I drove down to what I was told was a nice secluded beach," Andy explains. "But when we got there, there were more than 300 people on the beach, and the only free spot I could find was next to a couple of 16-year-olds violently pashing. It was the least romantic spot ever!"
Andy says he quickly scanned a nearby headland and asked Alex, 29, to take a walk with him. Once they were finally alone, he popped the question.
"She was so shocked, she basically collapsed on my shoulder," Andy recalls. "I pretty much had to ask her if it was a 'yes'. She was very shocked."
Many might think that being a successful chef and a judge on a cooking show means Andy's future wife is a gun in the kitchen too, but he admits that's not the case.
"She'll hate me saying this, but Alex flat out can't cook," he says. "It's very much a case of opposites attract on that front. Of course, we have the same morals and values, but she doesn't cook."
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While saying yes to being a new judge on MasterChef in 2020 – alongside Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo – was a big deal for Andy professionally, he says it did mean he and Alex had to have an important conversation.
"Alex is in Sydney and I'm in Melbourne for filming, so we had to talk about how we would make long distance work," he says. "But we were both so excited about the opportunity that we knew we could get through anything together."
Andy says the person who has given him the most advice about how to successfully juggle a relationship and the demands of MasterChef is former judge Matt Preston. Matt quit the hit reality show in 2019 after a decade fronting MasterChef with Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris.
"We met up earlier in the year and he said I have to make time for my relationship," Andy says.
"He said it can be hard with filming, and to make sure I set aside days to have a long weekend with Alex and time away from the set."
As for when the wedding will happen, Andy doesn't have a date set just yet, but admits planning is already underway.
"I thought I'd get a bit of breathing space after proposing," he says. "But on the flight back, she was already onto it!"
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