As Queensland couple Alex Clark, 36, and Emily O'Kane, 27, prepared to plate their Crispy Skin Salmon with Poor Man's Parmesan during the Value Challenge round on My Kitchen Rules Sunday night, the same last-minute tensions that plagued the pair during the middle part of the series came back with Emily fretting about last-minute protein and Alex wishing Emily would relax.
"She's just a bit of a worrywart," Alex tells WHO. "Emily wears her emotions on her sleeve and pressure does get to her a little bit. But we're a team and we're just constantly supporting each other."
Sure enough, the pair moved on with Perth waitresses Stella and Jazzey to the second round of the night, preparing a high-end course. Judge Pete Evans advised them, "You can go a long way in the competition if you work together."
Alex and Emily then worked on a Wagyu Steak with Mushroom Ragu, Duck Fat Kipflers and White Truffle dish. While all seemed smooth during the first half of the cook, Emily's clock-watching nervousness returned with three minutes left to go. "This is where it starts," said judge Colin Fassnidge to Pete and Manu Feildel. "You two wait and I'll get the popcorn."
Yet all the anxiety led to a decent dinner that was only lacking in truffle, an element Alex was plating. Even while getting compliments, Emily teared up. "Why are you crying?" Colin asked. "I just feel that Alex and I can't get there," she replied. "We understand," Colin assured her about the stress involved in cooking on MKR, "but it's only gonna get worse."
Ultimately, the couple earned a semifinal spot. Looking back on that moment, Emily tells WHO, "In my everyday life, I'm a stress-head, My friends know it, my family knows it. And you know what? It's just me, and people are either going to love that or completely hate that and find me so annoying because of it, but it's something I've got to embrace and something that motivates me and keeps me on my toes."
She adds, "being in front of the camera and under the clock, the more and more I did it, I think I got a little bit better. I wouldn't say I was relaxed or calm, but I think I definitely grew as a person."
Although Alex and Emily have been a couple for four 4 years, MKR has been a place for them to improve their chemistry in the kitchen. "I like following a recipe and Alex doesn't," Emily says. "He's got this amazing creative mind and eye of things, and he just kind of likes doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It works and it's amazing, but I'm the complete opposite."
Alex calls Emily "the queen of preparation" and says she was "the driving force behind the scenes. It was up to me, I guess, just to keep her as level-headed as possible so she can do what she does best, and that's cook."
Win or lose MKR, Alex and Emily say the experience has prepared them for their next goal—marriage. "It's definitely on the cards," Emily says. "I make a lot of jokes that I would be totally fine even with a burger ring around my finger! I'm not someone that is wanting the whole fancy wedding."
In fact, Emily says, "I'm very relaxed about it! People probably don't believe me saying that because they think I'm so crazy, but I am very relaxed about the whole situation."
So is Alex. "We've discussed it," he says of marriage. "It's the sort of thing that, when we're ready, we'll put it into plan. I think all in good time."
To hear more from Alex and Emily, including how they met and their plans for the future, pick up the latest issue of WHO on newsstands today. 'My Kitchen Rules' airs this week Mon.-Thurs. at 7.30 PM on Seven.