The 2022 season of My Kitchen Rules will not only see a judging panel shakeup, but changes to the way in which the dinner parties will pan out.
Over the years, the vibe and tone of the popular cooking show has undeniably shifted. What was once a very wholesome, family-oriented program celebrating home cooks from all walks of life, has more recently focused on the drama and onscreen feuds between contestants – particularly at the group dinner parties – to maintain viewership.
According to Manu Feildel, who's been a judge on the Channel 7 show since it began in 2010, this season viewers will see less of the conflict and spiciness that MKR has become so well-known for. Instead, there will be a greater focus on the delicious homemade meals that underpinned the show's conception 12 years ago.
"For over 10 years it was Australia’s favourite show. Now, I’m back, and I’m bringing MKR back to basics. Back to event family viewing," Feildel recently told TV Tonight.
“It will be the original MKR we all loved. No drama amongst teams. No mean characters. Just real food, real people and real homes."
The French celebrity chef said viewers will instead watch "likeable characters" and there will be "no trickery or set design" as we're invited into the "real home kitchens" of everyday Australians.
It's an interesting change of tack for the Channel 7 ratings juggernaut that's attracted some controversy over the years, where there's no doubt been an appetite for the drama. Like some of my friends say, watching people's unfiltered opinions and some healthy debates over a plate of food is intriguing, and rather similar to the dinner party discussions we so often find ourselves in the middle of in real life. Besides showcasing some incredible food, the show's clever casting has added further depth to the viewer experience — we tune in for the characters, not just the dishes.
On the other hand, MKR's elevated drama has landed the show in hot water, and made some viewers, like myself, feel rather uncomfortable seeing the nastiness on display at times. In 2018, the show heavily promoted the "MKR scandal" which essentially involved contestants Sonya and Hadil hurling verbal insults towards co-stars, Jess and Emma. Sonya and Hadil were asked by judge Feildel to leave, and Channel 7 later issued a statement saying the team had "continued to bully and attack other teams" prior to their dismissal.
Feildel's comments about "no mean characters" in 2022 comes as the judging panel also gets a shakeup. British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson and former MasterChef Australia judge Matt Preston will join Feildel, after controversial television personality and chef Pete Evans' contract with Channel 7 was terminated in 2020. Celeb chefs Colin Fassnidge and Curtis Stone will return as guest judges.
Perhaps the changes will place MKR more in line with rival cooking show MasterChef, which has famously achieved high ratings while relying on heartwarming stories about family, identity and culture from contestants to complement the impressive dishes. Will MKR returning to its original recipe (with some tweaks) bring it success this year? We can only hope so, and only time will tell.
My Kitchen Rules premieres on Channel 7 and 7plus later this year.