Alex Casey’s first power rankings for the new season of My Kitchen Rules NZ, including Pete Evans’ tan and Paul’s extraordinary cow art.
The best cooking show in the world is back and I couldn’t be happier. Last year I broke my brain recapping every single episode of My Kitchen Rules New Zealand, which you can read here if you want to also drown in my crazed cesspool of sous vide and saliva.
And guess what? I’m back.
Judge Gareth used up all his good ‘b’ words in the premiere, promising that the new season will be “bigger, better, bolder, braver.” It’s a battle of the provinces this time around, with teams from all around the country taking turns to host their own charming instant restaurants. “People will look at us and think, ‘ooh, that’s Palmy’” Simon from Palmy muses. Ooh indeed.
We’ve got everyone from Otago larrikins to mother/daughter combos, prison psychologists to aspiring artists. And I love them all. We’ve also welcomed Nosh on board as a primary sponsor, the fancy ethos of which blends nicely with in-depth discussion about Maggi two-minute noodles and the fact that nobody knows what terrine or praline is. There’s also a cheeky Nando’s promo to keep it real every ad break.
Anyway, here is my preliminary rankings from the first week of the show. I know only two teams have cooked so far but, let’s be honest, it’s not really about the food at all.
1) Monique and Henry
“Food is the glue” Henry declared stoically, a fact which is literally true if you are Ralph from The Simpsons, and metaphorically true for all competitive cooking television. Food is the glue that sticks the show together, but superhuman talent like Monique and Henry are the real reason that shows like this exist.
The loveable couple from Hawkes Bay are undeniably excellent in their realness. Monique doesn’t eat peas and thinks feta smells like old socks, whereas Henry is not only confused by terrine, but also praline. What he does know, is a thing or two about local Maori history:
Henry welcomed surprise guest and MKR Australia judge Pete Evans with a hongi, and later declared that Paul and Laurence’s plum sorbet was “kawa” (sour). Injecting te reo into a prime time television slot? Just reason #48659 that the show rocks.
Finally, you just have to look at this reaction to see why this pair deserve the #1 slot:
2) Hannah and Cathy
These two work together in a correctional facility, instantly making them some of the most fascinating contestants, and possibly the most worthy of a spin-off reality series. Just look at all the cakes they take into the prison, you can’t tell me at least one of them hasn’t had a vigilante file baked into it at some point.
Passing through a metal detector every morning, and working with high-risk offenders on the regular, the calm pair claim to bring “tolerance and mindfulness” to the challenge. That’s all good and well until somebody drops a damn tart base:
After serving up carpaccio, lamb and tart at their Bloom instant restaurant, Hannah and Cathy came away with an “unprecedented” score of 81/100. And that’s with the feta looking like “squirrel poop” and the lamb bleeding all over the plate, so who knows what they’re capable of in the future.
3) Laurence and Paul
Laurence is a cookbook obsessive who used to be in The Hurricanes, and is all about “giving it a crack”. Paul is an aspiring artist, focussing on his painting after his business liquidated last year. They are an unlikely pair, who can rock a slogan tee with the best of them.
What is Laurence’s meat delineation t-shirt trying to tell me? Is Paul calling me an egg? So many questions.
Man I am into that gold Fruit & Vege tee. On the first night, I was sold on Laurence after he absolutely hoed into his main course before the judges had even picked up their forks. I love this no-bullshit approach to food etiquette, he could well be the Larry David of MKRNZ.
Their instant restaurant The Gallery was a lovely opportunity to showcase Paul’s latest painting collection, my favourite of which is a piece that I like to call “Extremely Sensual Cows”
They came away with a score of 64/100 after serving mysterious terrine and some enchanted eel that seemed to momentarily turn everyone into Hannibal Lecter:
Will their low score keep them at the bottom of the table, or will someone else screw up royally? “We’re just hoping there’s a banana skin out there” Paul says afterwards, perhaps a bit too threateningly.
4) Travis and Jeremy
Scalliwag alert! These two Otago bros claim to have come on the show to meet chicks, but became instantly wary of psychologist Hannah after realising that she could be reading their minds. Travis is sporting some very serious knuckle tattoos, which he earnestly explained meant: “Life’s a one time ride, it’s not a dress rehearsal. Be who you are and don’t be someone else.”
These two are the damn definition of “crack up”, describing a chocolate terrine as “chocolatey” and warning everyone that they will be making two minute noodles for their instant restaurant. Hey now guys, MKRNZ is a one time ride, it’s not a dress rehearsal. Last ride, stay true.
5) Ruth and Cheryl
The mother and daughter pair from Christchurch made a few controversial calls in the first week. Cheryl talked about how she used to go on romantic eeling dates with her husband, and got nervous about having to sit next to the judges:
Her daughter Ruth also spoke her truth more than once. The biggest revelation was that she doesn’t like chocolate, and the other being that she puts cheese on her two minute noodles. Everyone was horrified at this, but I let out a very small chirp of approval. Thank you Ruth for reminding New Zealand of this culinary genius move, and setting the bar very high for any further improvements on a kiwi classic
(I used to add peas to my noodles as well and eat them with chopsticks, but don’t tell Monique that).
The Crazy Pumpkin
Forget Nosh, why has no-one gunned for an exclusive Crazy Pumpkin contract?!
Pete Evans’ Natural Glow
Gareth’s Sensual Feedback
Woah, simmer down there Gareth or you’ll get the cows all hot and bothered again:
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