Kiwis can't rule Aussie kitchen
After four months of hard-fought competition, one point was all it took to end the My Kitchen Rules dream of Kiwi cooks Meg Dangen and Simon Yandall.
The Auckland couple last night bowed out of the Australian reality cooking show in dramatic fashion, and even though it was filmed over six months ago, the pain of losing still stings.
"When the scoring started we were thinking, 'we've got it, we've got it, we've one this one', and then we didn't," Dangen said.
"But one point. That, to us, leaves a little bit of doubt, it could have gone either way, so what was that one point that could have made the difference?
"If we had been absolutely smashed, it would have been easy [to accept]."
Filming for the show, which pits the culinary skills of couples from all around Australia - and one, this time, from Auckland's Half Moon Bay - against each other, started at the end of last year.
Dangen and Yandall spent four months travelling around Australia filming, cooking and competing until they were eliminated by close friends Steve and Helen.
They said the schedule was gruelling - very little sleep, catching around 70 flights over the four months, and in Yandall's words, "s****ing your pants" every time you put the apron on".
But the couple, who got engaged just a few months before the show started, say it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they couldn't turn down.
"It was a pretty amazing experience, and apart from the competition we got to see a lot of Australia and make some great friends," Dangen said.
The pair are still in touch with most of the other couples, with a fellow contestant due to visit them in New Zealand.
It wasn't all easy-going though, with some big personalities thrown in the mix, but Yandall and Dangen said with all the contestants on the show, what you see is pretty close to what you get.
"Every character is amplified somewhat, because it is reality TV," Dangen said.
"But we come across as we are, and I think the villains do as well. I think when they signed up [the show's producers] would have thought 'this is gold, they are going to give us everything we need to create great characters', which is what it's all about," Yandall agreed.
"I've really enjoyed watching the series. There are some amazing characters and some great food. I've been really impressed with the way they did it."
While the pair are proud of what they achieved on the show as the first ever Kiwi competitors, when pushed on their lowest point, they admit it came pretty early on in the competition.
"Our first night of cooking", they said.
"After the pav debacle [where a broken oven ruined the dessert in the instant restaurant round of competition], at about 3am I think I shed a few tears, saying 'that's it, I'm not going with them, I want to stay home. I can't do this, I can't take the pressure'. And then you re-group and refocus and you realise we need to show those Aussies how to cook," Dangen said.
And now, with some time to reflect on the experience, Yandall and Dangen are looking forward, with plans to start running small cooking classes and maybe even a cookbook in the pipeline.
But the biggest reward, it seems, was surviving the kitchen as a couple.
"We came out of it good, happy, still together," Dangen said.
"We weren't sick of each other at the end of it," Yandall laughed.