It’s true that French chef Feildel, 46, has an advantage in being given teams such as Queensland couple Dan and Steph, the winners of Season 4 back in 2013, who have gone on to open their own restaurant. But Fassnidge is confident his teams have the skills to give their more experienced rivals a run for their money.
“A lot of people have gone on to do cooking as their job after the show, so they’re not novices,” Fassnidge says. “My team went in thinking, ‘Oh look, nice to see their heroes off the TV’, and once they start seeing the calibre of the food, my team know they have to step it up.”
One promising team is Sue Ann, 56, and Sylvia, 52, Melbourne friends who met as children in their homeland of Malaysia. “I think Sue Ann and Sylvia will be stand-outs,” he says. “There’s an episode in the kitchen with them – she’s breaking into song, dancing, grabbing me!”
While Feildel’s team will live together in a mansion in Sydney, Fassnidge’s aspiring chefs will reside in a spruced-up warehouse. They judge the Instant Dinners of the opposing team, and the third judge, Pete Evans, 46, gives feedback on both.
Fassnidge jokes that Evans was jealous to not be given his own team to mentor, adding, “I think Pete called me out on a score I gave and was like, ‘Are you siding with your team?” But obviously Pete, he gives 10s to everyone because he’s boring, [but] when I give 10s, I’m quite emotional.”
All jokes aside, the banter between the judges has come from years of working together in often high-pressure environments. But Fassnidge says whatever happens on TV, stays on TV, and the trio are good friends when they go back to their daily lives.
“We all drive home after the show – we live beside each other,” he says. “We drop Frenchy off first and I’ll drop Pete off last. I’m like the cab driver!”
Fassnidge adds, “During the day we will proper argue, we are like kids, then on the way home we are friends.”
Away from the MKR set, Fassnidge can be found riding his prized Ducati motorbike, doing charity work for mental health group R U OK?, and reporting for dad duty. While the chef and his Irish wife Jane like to keep their daughters, Maeve and Lily, out of the spotlight, he’ll occasionally give them a glimpse into what goes on at his TV job.
“I brought my kids to set and they met Sue Ann and Sylvia and they were just there with their mouth open, like, ‘What is going on?’,” Fassnidge says. “They were in the corner of the kitchen for one of the days – I was on daddy daycare – and they were like, this place is an asylum!”