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The secret recipe for My Kitchen Rules

Producer reveals the three ingredients that make Seven juggernaut work.

If anybody should know the My Kitchen Rules secret recipe for success, it is Joe Herdman .

The executive producer has worked on 7 seasons of the cooking contest. He outlines three things viewers most want to see.

“Pete & Manu, instant restaurants, a diverse cast,” he tells TV Tonight.

“Those elements remain every year but I think the key to any successful format is developing and evolution. Since the beginning we’ve brought in new layers, new elements, new directions, new challenges, and new format beats. Coupled with the fact that it is a competition for a lot of money, the competitive edge increases which allows it to maintain whatever-length the series is.”

“We have a brand spanking new HQ, which is epic.”

In its 10th year, there are more new and refreshed elements to the hit Seven series.

“We have a brand spanking new HQ, which is epic. It’s a really cool space and the contestants love being a part of it.

“We recognise the viewers love going into people’s homes for instant restaurants. We love making them, too. It’s a great part of the show. But we can’t do 3, 4 or 5 rounds of those back to back because you start getting fatigue,” he explains.

“This year we have Open Houses where the public are invited to taste the meals in homes. It’s a nice twist that the teams and everyone making the show have been excited by.”

For the first time 2 complete strangers will be paired together in the second of the show’s two groups.

“Contestants have applied over the years and said, ‘someone has pulled out’ or ‘I can’t find the perfect partner’ so it got us thinking.

“When they come together I think it will be must-watch TV, because they are chalk and cheese. Seeing them work together I think will be something to behold.”

“This one ticks all the boxes”

Herdman worked on the first season of MKR, which grew out of My Restaurant Rules. It has become a juggernaut for Seven, underpinning repeated years of ratings wins and being formatted around the world. Created and produced within Seven, it is a massive money-spinner for the network.

“I’ve made a lot of reality shows here and internationally. This one ticks all the boxes, I think, for audiences and for the team who make it,” he continues.

“There’s a huge crew, all very dedicated, who keep coming back. I think that’s what makes it a fun place to be.

“The cast is super-important in any show. None more so than ours. The cast are committed, excited to be a part of it. They know what the show is. They want to do it, they all have a genuine skill and we bring people in from all walks of life.

“Seeing them come together, engage, converse, argue, love, is really exciting.

“That to me is the most important part.”

“We are casting the next season while we are still editing the previous one.”

The MKR cast is central to its success. This takes place over a 15 month period for a filming period of 6 months.

“We are casting the next season while we are still editing the previous one. We interview people on the phone, we go to their homes, we film them doing a cooking challenge or an interview, and we go to all corners of Australia,” Herdman says.

“We spend a long time finding out why people love food, why they want to be a part of the show, why they think they can win, why they think they are good enough to be on TV.

“We put them on a wall and try and work out who will work well together. Each year, touch wood we’ve found the right recipe. No doubt we’ve done so again this year.

“Over a thousand would apply each year and then we go out to food festivals, food blogs, and approach people who we think would be good enough too.”

This year he nominates 2 ‘brutally-honest brothers’  from New South Wales as the ones who will have everybody talking.

“The first team to get tongues wagging will be Josh & Austin. I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone on any of the shows I’ve worked on like those guys. They are unique but honest and always true to themselves. I think they make for must-watch TV. They are genuine from day dot.

“They are one of many strong and diverse teams this year. I have a lot of respect for each and every one of them, for the effort they put in. It’s not easy, this programme. Whether you go first or last, it takes a lot of hard work, so I respect them all for having a red hot crack.”

“When it goes too far on a tangent, like it has in the past, our judges will jump in.”

In the very first episode Josh & Austin unleash on their fellow cast members with a no-holds-barred first impressions. While volatility and conflict are central to the MKR table, why do Pete & Manu rarely intervene over poor table manners?

“Pete & Manu will leave the table from time to time,” Herdman defends. “Often they are in the kitchen checking out what’s going on with the food. So when they are away sometimes, the conversations open up. Sometimes they are part of the conversation, or we don’t feel the need to involve them in the conversations. So it can go both ways. That’s just the making of the show, I guess.

“Over the years where they have felt the need to jump in, they do jump in. Fundamentally the drama happens because the contestants are invested and want to be a part of the show and compete. But the food is the most important part of our show. When it goes too far on a tangent, like it has in the past, our judges will jump in.”

Lastly, I have to ask. What’s with the new 7pm timeslot? Is it a move to get the jump on Married at First Sight given Nine overtook it in the timeslot last year?

Herdman is tactful.

“I’m not part of the decision-making, I just make the show! It’s a great time to be alive. It’s ratings season and 7:00 is a great time for us. Obviously the Cricket is on here at Seven, so that might have a lot to do with it, but that’s not my decision!”

My Kitchen Rules returns 7pm Monday on Seven.

17 Responses

  1. I will be watching again but i do agree that the season does go on for a bit to long also I would rather see more instant restaurants than challenges I find the challenges a bit boring people watch MKR for the bitching and they watch Masterchef for the cooking

  2. I think MKR will struggle this year especially when they make the season so long. MAFS and Celebrity will give them some competition. I do feel the show is aimed at bitchiness factor which appeals to many people. I no longer watch it and have no axe to grind, I just simply found it exhausting to watch over a very long series.

  3. Joe Herdman failed to outline the main thing viewers of MKR want to see: Conflict. That’s really at the heart of this show; otherwise it’s just a cheap and nasty version of MasterChef.

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