Spy with Ricardo Simich, Pebbles Hooper

Ricardo Simich and Pebbles Hooper are co-editors of New Zealand’s leading gossip pages, Spy.

Spy News: My Kitchen Rules fires up (+interviews)

Chef Sean Connolly, member of the tasting panel for the NZ series of 'My Kitchen Rules'.
Chef Sean Connolly, member of the tasting panel for the NZ series of 'My Kitchen Rules'.

The social media campaigns have started, the advertising hoardings are up and the hype is at fever pitch. Forget the election - it's the arrival of two hotly-anticipated rival reality TV shows that has everyone buzzing.

TV One celebrated the launch of the first Kiwi version of hit cooking show My Kitchen Rules at guest judge Sean Connolly's Gusto restaurant in Auckland on Friday night.

VIPs mingled with the 10 Kiwi teams - and, excitingly, guests of honour from the Aussie show, who flew in for the night.

Twins Helena and Vikki Moursellas, who are still in the top four, were there, along with crowd favourites Thalia Papadakis and Bianca Johnston, who were eliminated on Wednesday, and fifth placegetters, mum and daughter team Cathy Lisle and Anna Lisle.

MKR NZ goes to air on Sunday, just two days ahead of TV3's hit DIY makeover show, The Block.

Mediaworks has invited VIPs to join the cast and crew to watch the first episode live at its launch party at SkyCity's TwentyOne.

The shows compete head to head in the coveted 7.30pm prime time slot on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Spy can't wait to see who'll come out on top! We got a sneak peak at some of the Kiwi MKR teams ahead of Sunday's first show.

In true Gen Y style the Social Media Buddies - Aucklanders Sam Sutherland and Dan Freeman, both 21 - got their name because they met on Twitter. They like nothing better than to cook for their friends, and tell the world about their epic meals via Twitter. The flatmates say they entered for "fun, to get better at cooking, to get promo!". At least they're honest.

Team Beauty and the Beast is Tracey Allan and Neil Gussey from Orewa, and the friends are certainly used to fame and the finer things. Allan, 47, was a famous Auckland model in the 80s and is now a prominent make-up artist. Gussey, 43, has been our version of Mario Testino, making a living from shooting our most famous models and celebrities.

They say they aren't fans of arrogant cooks, and will tell fellow competitors to leave their egos at the door. They say they're good dancers, busting out the moves during filming. "I think we will be described as quite eccentric and kooky, as together we are quite crazy," said Gussey. The Corporate Dads are Aucklanders Josh King, 40 and Aaron Gascoigne, 42.

They say they're classic Kiwi blokes and love boats, bikes, rugby and having a laugh. They're in it to win it, and dream of opening a pop up restaurant called 'Two Fat Cats'.

Team Beauty and the Beast: Tracey Allan 47 and Neil Gussey 43


My Kitchen Rules New Zealand contestants Tracey Allan and Neil Gussey.

Can you cook if so who says so? Why did you enter MKR NZ?

Tracey: We can cook and both of us have a number of recipes that we are very good at so hopefully when we combine them together we can do well. We did a test run for family and they all told us the food was great and we could actually cook!

Describe your cooking style?

Neil: Our cooking style is a fusion of all cultures. We love Thai food and cook a lot of that but Tracey is always experimenting and adding all sorts of other flavours in to come up with something new.

Favourite Fine Dining restaurant?

Neil: I love going to Four Seasons which is the restaurant at AUT University. This is where the students all work and practice with fine dining dishes and the food is always amazing and experimental. Also Tracey and I love going to SPQR. I think we have been going there for 20 years now!

Did you find the Instant Restaurant invasive to your home?

Tracey: We found setting up the restaurant to be quite hard work but a lot of fun. Being a makeup artist and a photographer, we knew we had to make ours look fantastic as the others would expect that from us.

Do you see a future in cooking or are you just doing it for the ride?

Neil: We don't want to be chefs or anything scary like that. We are going along for the ride and trying to learn along the way how to improve and be better home cooks.

Are you the MKR NZ b****es? If not how do you think Kiwis will describe you?

Neil: I think we will be described as quite eccentric and kooky, as together we are quite crazy.

Most embarrassing thing about your cooking partner?

Neil: I always tease Tracey about us being old which I know she hates and she is not the fastest in the kitchen or the bathroom getting ready!! Also we both think we can actually dance very well and do so many times, to the shock of some of the contestants.

Worst kitchen nightmare?

Tracey: Stuffing up our one signature dish which we have done a hundred times perfectly. That would be our worst nightmare!

Which Judge scares you more Ben Bayly or Gareth Stewart?

Neil: Neither of them scare us ....I think they are more scared of Tracey and I! If we had to say one of them, Gareth is a bit more scary than Ben I suppose. If they don't like anything we cook we take the advice on board and try and change. In our jobs we get feedback all the time and know how to take it.

Team Corporate Dads: Josh King 40 and Aaron Gascoigne 42



My Kitchen Rules New Zealand contestants Josh King and Aaron Gascoigne.

Can you cook, if so who says so? Why did you enter MKR NZ?

Aaron: Of course I can cook - my children tell me that every morning when they demand something off "Their Menu". I love the MKR format - home cooks being put under pressure - throw in some drama and comedy - great concept.

Josh: Ditto. My wife is my inspiration for cooking.

Describe your cooking style?

Josh: Kiwi cooking at its finest - keeping it simple with big flavours - and the modern use of the good ol BBQ.

Favourite Fine Dining restaurant?

Aaron: Has to be my local - Salt in Castor Bay.

Did you find the Instant Restaurant invasive to your home?

Aaron: You'll have to ask Josh's wife - but I would say so, as it looked like a bomb had gone off in the kitchen.

Do you see a future in cooking or are you just doing it for the ride?

Josh: For sure - we are working on our brand of butters, sauces and rubs to help guys look brilliant in the Kitchen.

How do you think Kiwis will describe you?

Aaron: Down to earth Kiwi bloke that loves his family and has a passion for food, fishing, hunting and diving.

Josh: Same as Aaron.

Most embarrassing thing about your cooking partner?

Aaron: His tendency to burn himself at inappropriate times in front of the camera.

How do you think Kiwis will describe you?

Aaron: Down to earth Kiwi bloke that loves his family and has a passion for food, fishing hunting and diving.

Worst kitchen nightmare?

Aaron: Duck - won't say any more than that - oh no I will, desserts!

Which of the Host Judges scares you more Ben Bayly or Gareth Stewart?

Aaron: All of them!

Team Social Media Buddies Sam Sutherland 21 and Dan Freeman 21



My Kitchen Rules New Zealand contestants Dan Freeman (left) and Sam Sutherland.

Can you cook if so who says so? Why did you enter MKR NZ?

Sam: All my friends love my cooking and my baking especially, we entered MKR for lots of things, fun, to get better at cooking, to get promo!

Dan: We like to think we can cook. All our friends tell us we are quite good, but they are our friends so they are kind of under obligation to tell us that. That's why we entered really, to get opinions from real chefs.

Describe your cooking style?

Sam: We cook whatever we're loving at the time. Right now it's Mexican!

Dan: We like cooking modern and fancy types of food. Don't really have any classics, we just try stuff and then try and make it ourselves.

Favourite Fine Dining restaurant?

Sam: If I could go anywhere, it would be Milse, if I had to choose somewhere that wasn't just dessert, it would probably be Baduzzi, Ben's restaurant.

Dan: My favourite place would have to be Elephant Hill in Napier. That's amazing. Otherwise I love Depot in Auckland. Not as fine dining but it doesn't need to be fancy to be great.

Did you find the Instant Restaurant invasive to your home?

Dan: It was fun travelling and fun eating but, it was far too chaotic cooking in a house and we didn't have much room with all the crew and stuff!

Do you see a future in cooking or are you just doing it for the ride?

Sam: I would love a career in cooking, I'd like to study patisserie further at some point.

Dan: I want to get into the industry. And to learn from the judges and then, one day, ask to work in their kitchens. Maybe.

How do you think Kiwis will describe you?

Dan: I don't know how we will come across really. Hope we aren't the villains! Hahaha!

Most embarrassing thing about your cooking partner?

Sam: He got a nasty scar you will see appear part way through the series after a night out for my 21st, oops!

Dan: The worst thing about Sam is how bloody messy he is. We're flatmates and his showers literally use all the hot water in the house.

Worst kitchen nightmare?

Dan: I guess I'm scared by working in a commercial kitchen and serving real people food. But that's also what I want to do. Scared/excited.

Which of the Host Judges scares you more Ben Bayly or Gareth Stewart?

Sam: Sean Connolly (Kitchen HQ Tasting panel judge), he means business, he has the most experience as a chef.

Dan: The judges don't really scare me at all. They are trying to be scary but you can see that they are really nice. Ben is great I would say we look up to him the most. He can see we want to get better and he tries and gives us tips.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 26 Nov 2014 19:59:50 Processing Time: 585ms