For over eight years, Manu Feildel has won hearts as the resident Frenchman on My Kitchen Rules.
With his diverse understanding of flavours, sultry gaze, ability to diffuse a tense situation (most of the time)... and don't even get us started on his deliciously swoon-worthy accent - Manu is very much a household name.
But not even the soothing tones of the chef's voice could have sweetened one of the most bitter season's of the Channel 7 reality cooking show.
With the season finally done and dusted for the year, Now To Love exclusively caught up with the 44-year-old.
Manu got very candid about the future of MKR (yes, he's coming back), the truth behind all the drama with Sonya and Hadil facing off with Jess and Emma and why he's returning to the kitchen in the name of good movies (hello Hoyts!).
Look, we love reality TV drama as much as the next person.
And at the beginning of the year My Kitchen Rules promised that this was going to be THE MOST SCANDALOUS SEASON YET... One of the most over-sued voice-overs across all the networks.
But Channel 7 was not lying.
In fact, we feel like we weren't given ENOUGH notice about how sordid the series would become.
Now that the show's over, we asked the dad-of-two if he was OK.
"Yes! I'm fine – in one piece."
"No, it's all good. Of course it was very intense this year. There was a lot of fighting which was very disappointing," he told us.
"At the end of the day we recovered after the two ladies got eliminated and the show went on."
"To be honest with you, I don't know."
He told us, "A lot of those things happened when the cameras stopped. They had to spend a lot of time together and not everyone can get along."
"We were aware of it to an extent but it all really exploded."
We asked the chef whether that much drama was a vital ingredient for the cooking show.
"Pete and I are there for – to judge the cooks (hopefully great home cooks)."
"There's always drama and there always will be. When you put a bunch of people together around the table for 6-8 hours, there's always one who won't fit in."
Taking a moment, Manu said, "The drama, I suppose, is needed."
"We are entertainment people - we need a bit of sweetness and we need that spice."
"I just hope that we never go as far as we did this year."
2018's runner-up Kim and Suong are no longer friends - and it's something we hear often.
With eight years in the game, Manu had some wise words for next year's batch of home cooks.
"Any relationship if you spend 24/7 together – even a husband and a wife – will find it stressful."
Admitting that it's hard, Manu shared some sage advice.
"Come for the competition, to show us what you can do but also don't take it too seriously.""It is obviously is competition with money that can change your life but just focus on doing it together."
"At the end of the day we're not there to break relationships, we're there to make someone happy."
This year, there was lots of controversy when it was claimed many of the entrants had zero cooking skill.
"We always want to get a good mix," Manu explained of the casting process.
"Food is number one but we also want to have different personalities. It's like a puzzle - we need to put the pieces together. "
"I know this year there were a couple that couldn't really [pauses] maybe cook, not so much."
As for what we can expect next year, Manu is keeping his mouth shut.
"I don't want to say too much. We do keep it fresh so you'll just have to watch!"
They're two of the most popular cooking shows on TV, but the beloved Frenchman doesn't see MasterChef as competition.
"The guys are good friends of ours. The fact that we have a different show on different networks is not a big thing," Manu tells Now To Love.
Being quite the diplomat, he continued, "Both produce a good show – it's same-same but different."
"We're not in competition with each other."
Before you take it as a huge compliment MasterChef, you should know reality TV isn't Manu's jam.
We asked him about his TV guilty pleasures and he laughed, telling us, "Oh no! I don't really watch TV and I'm not home when these types of shows are on."
We all know Manu is one of the country's most well-respected chefs. And now we can all have access to his glorious food.
The MKR judge has teamed up with Hoyts, revamping their delicious new movie menu.
Speaking about the updated menu, which will be revealed next week, he shared, "I had to think in a very different way – what will people want to eat while they're lying down watching a movie."
While the chef got creative, he did confess that he didn't need to draw inspiration from his MKR contestants.
"No," he chuckled, "I mean we do get to eat some great food from the contestants."
"But this is my own style."
Manu married his longtime love and mother to daughter Charlee, Clarissa Weerasena.
While he loves being a dad to his three-year-old and son Jonti, the proud hubby shared that he has enough cooks in the kitchen and has no plans for any more buns in the oven.
"I've got a fantastic family. I'm very lucky."
Adding of married life, "It's been good! I now have a ring on my finger."
As a busy worker, Manu also imparted some very good tips when it comes to feeding the family - make the kids eat what you're having."
"When it comes to things like food – we feed Charlee meat, fish and vegetables and she loves it."
"I don't think you should create special meals for kids."
"It's about food education from a young age. My son loves green vegetables more than he likes meat. I think real food is the key."