Sydney socialites Ibby and Romel have sailed through to the My Kitchen Rules semi-finals. But their rival, Victor, has accused them of paying their way to the finals!
"Ibby was very clear about the amount of money he and Romel put into the show," Victor, 29, tells TV WEEK.
"It was something like $20,000 to $30,000.
"I remember going to Ibby's apartment and he'd have a kitchen hand there doing all his dishes for him, trialling recipes and doing this and that. So yes, he had an advantage, but it was one he paid for."
Accusations of cheating have dogged Ibby and Romel from the outset on the reality show.
First, Ibby told everyone he was a nurse when he actually owned two cafes and a restaurant. Then, there was the time they paid for a stylist to decorate their Instant Restaurant, followed by the strategic-scoring controversy that saw the pair give Group Two low scores on purpose.
Romel, 42, who runs a modelling agency, admits he and Ibby did sink a lot of their own money into trying to win My Kitchen Rules.
"We each invested $15,000 to $20,000 in the competition," he says. "The flowers alone for our first Instant Restaurant were $1800."
Most of the money went into paying a kitchen hand – or sometimes two – to work in their apartment kitchen, as they practised making dishes for the show.
"Ibby and I were working two steps ahead of everybody else," Romel explains. "The kitchen hand was preparing everything for us and we'd put all the dishes together. That saved us quite a lot of time."
Romel says because he and Ibby both run businesses, they didn't want to take time away from them unless they believed they stood a "really, really good" chance of winning.
"Fortunately for us, we were able to afford to do what we did and we went all out," he says.
Ruby, 39, says she and teammate Andy always regarded Ibby and Romel as their main competition.
"We saw ourselves with Ibby and Romel in the final," she explains.
She's aware the pair had assistance that she and Andy didn't, but is OK with it.
"Andy and I are really proud that we did all this with our own efforts," she says.
MY KITCHEN RULES airs Sunday, 7pm, and Monday and Tuesday, 7.30pm, Channel Seven.