The new season of My Kitchen Rules has only just begun, but this year's contestants are already proving they'll do whatever it takes to win.
With talk of strategy on the table, some teams use the new scoring system to sway the leaderboard in their favour, while others call it cheating.
Separated into two teams this season – the Fans and the Faves – they must decide as a house on one score for each instant restaurant. It quickly causes controversy.
"It certainly adds another dimension to the scoring" Mark, 40, tells TV WEEK, "You can't do anything anonymously."
When it comes time to agree on a score for Faves Dan and Steph's instant restaurant, Fans team member Mark wants to strategically give the season-four champions only a one out of 10 for their efforts.
While some team members baulk at the idea, the New Zealand-born poker player stands by his decision.
"If you're playing in a team, surely the object of the game is for your team to win?" Mark says.
Kerry and Kaylene disagree. After calling out Sophia and Romel on night one of the competition, likening having a strategy to cheating, they stand by a fair scoring system.
"She's [Kerry] very moralistic and that was driving me crazy," Mark reveals. "I had to start forming alliances with other contestants to ensure we were getting ourselves in a good position [on the leader board]."
On the other side of the table, in House Manu (chef Manu Feildel is mentoring the Faves), Sophia and Romel openly admit they've come into the competition with a strategy.
"There are a lot of strategies at play," Sophia says. "Romel and I are upfront, but everyone is playing the game."
The Sydney dance teacher reveals that while she and Romel ruffle feathers with their outspoken and honest opinion, it's the teams who play nice you really have to watch out for.
"There are some people at the table who have more than two faces," she declares. "There are a lot of snakes in the grass this series."
Competition is fierce not just between the teams of cooks, but also rival judges Colin Fassnidge and Manu Feildel.
Mentoring a team each – Manu the Faves and Colin the Fans – the superchefs are eager to see their charges score at the top of the leader board. Pete Evans, meanwhile, ensures all scoring is fair.
"We call Peter 'Switzerland'," Manu, 46, tells TV WEEK. "He's in the middle and makes sure Colin and I do the job right."
But when Team Manu's Dan and Steph take their turn to cook this week, Colin's harsh criticism of the season-four champions' entrée forces Pete to confront him and question his integrity.
"I can't believe we're going to do this so early in the competition," Pete tells Colin before disagreeing with his feedback.
"Manu says he's going to have integrity, and I'm questioning yours at the moment."
WATCH BELOW: Pete Evans and Manu Feildel - how well do they know each other? Post continues after video...
While strategic scoring is raising temperatures between the Fans and Faves, heat of a different kind is building between rival team members Roula and Ben.
Sparks fly at the MKR table this week as returning favourite Roula and Melbourne bar manager Ben exchange plenty of flirtatious banter.
"I think it was his sense of humour," Roula, 36, tells TV WEEK of what first caught her eye.
However, the Melbourne nanny admits it took a while to warm to the 27-year-old.
"I was sitting next to him at pretty much every dinner," Roula recalls. "I remember I didn't want a bar of him at the first one, then I started getting to know him, and his jokes started making me laugh."
Taken with her smooth-talking rival, Roula makes a bold move by asking Ben on a date with a love note. But when judge Colin spots it, the Irish chef snatches it from his grasp to read aloud at the table!
"It's really embarrassing!" Roula says. "It was meant to be between him and I, but Ben can't keep a secret."