Despite shedding a few tears during last night’s tense final of My Kitchen Rules, Emily and her partner Alex are beaming after taking out the crown (and $250,000!) against Melbourne team Kim and Suong. WHO caught up with the happy couple the morning after the finale aired to see what they have in store for the future...
WHO: Congratulations on taking out this year’s My Kitchen Rules title! Where did you watch last night’s finale and how did you celebrate?
ALEX: We were at home in Ocean Shores and we had friends and family come over, inclusive of Josh and Nic and Stella and Jazzey from the competition. They flew over to be with us for the grand final which is really nice and we put on a big spread for everyone and then we all sort of crowded around the TV and cheered ourselves on pretty much [laughs].
WHO: With all the celebrating, how much sleep have you had?
ALEX: I’ve had about two hours.
WHO: Did you suspect that you had come out on top or was it difficult to gauge while you were filming?
ALEX: Oh no, we didn’t know. We knew that Kim and Suong were really going to be tough competition and we didn’t really know how well they went but from what we’d heard from the other contestants, it was a very, very even… even on both sides, everyone thought that it was very, very close.
WHO: Emily, it must have been tough to watch yourself completely stressed out but was it cathartic in a way to see you come out on time after that experience?
EMILY: Absolutely. I think last night in the grand final, the way I acted and the way I tried to hold myself in the kitchen was probably the best I’d seen myself in the whole competition. I think I’ve struggled honestly watching myself since we’ve come into Kitchen Headquarters just because I feel like I just can’t even look at myself like the way I’m running around like a little lunatic and just some of the things I say even surprises me, I’m like ‘I don’t even remember what I was talking about or what I meant’ and it’s just like I hide behind a pillow while I watch it but last night it was… I think I knew exactly what I needed to do, I knew exactly what Alex and I needed to do as a team to get us over the line and I just had my head focused on that and I wasn’t going to let stress get in the way of that or take away the opportunity of losing $250,000 but I did get a little bit upset in the pork course because Alex told me I was putting on the jug wrong on the plate and I think I was just so tired I just cried and I mean, everyone clearly knows by now I love a good cry but I think that the only reason I cried on that fourth course last night was purely because I was just so tired and we’d almost… we’d plated up 80 dishes and we had 20 more to go and like the finish line was so close but yet so far.
WHO: You not only came out on top but you also received a 10 from Liz and people did enjoy everything you presented. How do you feel knowing that’s the kind of reaction they had?
ALEX: It’s just the best feeling in the world. I mean, we worked bloody hard like there’s no other way of saying it, it wasn’t just being good on the night like we practiced and practiced and practiced, you know trying to perfect our cook. The same for the semi-final, you know I mean we came leaps and bounds from the semi-final or even since our Auckland instant restaurants, we knew how much hard work we had to put in if we wanted to see ourselves even close to getting into the top six, we really had to just work. We weren’t the strongest cooks in the competition by any means but because we worked so hard and we practiced so much, we did, we did gain those skills.
WHO: Alex, Manu wanted more of the harissa butter on your lobster. Do you regret not adding a bit more?
ALEX: No of course. I mean looking back and watching myself do it I’m like ‘What the hell are you doing, idiot?’ but it’s one of those things you know you live and learn and it wasn’t our strongest dish by far but we were very happy with presentation and everything we did that night…
EMILY: And the concept behind it…
ALEX: Yeah and the concepts behind each dish, we thought it out, the whole flow of the menu, everything was taken into account.
WHO: You both want to open your own place. Would it be called Love from Miami?
ALEX: Yeah, I mean that would be fun. Emily and I have just moved down Ocean Shores way because we really like the area and that’s kind of just outside of Byron and we’re currently working in Byron but we really like the idea of setting up a pop-up before we jump straight in the deep end and set up our own place, really just test the waters in terms of product, it seems the smart thing to do as well because maybe we can sort of stretch ourselves and do something in one city and then pack up after three months and do it in another city, you know, we’re not ruling out anything but we like the idea of maybe just testing the waters and doing a pop-up first
WHO: With $250,000, that’s a lot of money for hats, Alex, so we hope you are saving enough for that purpose….
ALEX: [Laughs] Yeah, that’s right!
EMILY: I think Alex deserves to get honestly the largest collection he wants of hats because he has worn a hat… he wore hats for like six months straight while filming and so many people online have made comments about ‘Why does he constantly wear the hat?’ and I just love that he’s worn the hat the whole way through, I think he’s totally deserving of a brand new hat collection! Just to tease everyone a little bit more [laughs].
WHO: Emily, you’ve also joked that you’re perfectly happy with a Burger Ring but you could probably get something a little more grand than that now. Is that the plan?
EMILY: Look, Alex and I obviously… we’ve been quite open about it that we would love to get married but it just hasn’t been something that’s happened yet for us and as much of a control freak as I am, I feel like this is an important thing for me to step back from and it is not in my court at all and when Alex is ready and when Alex wants to, it’s all on him and I don’t care if it’s still that burger ring or it’s something a little more glamourous [laughs].
WHO: It was wonderful to see your family supporting you both in the final. What did that mean for you guys?
ALEX: Yeah I mean my folks were just in awe, my old man even last night he was with us again and he’s like ‘I’m still in awe’ and he goes, just to relive it and watch it again, he’s like just what you… what Emily and I pulled off, he was just so dumbfounded, he was just so impressed and proud which is just the best feeling in the world, because that’s what you really want to do, you want to impress your parents and make them proud. For Emily’s mum and my folks, that was a really special moment.
WHO: Your whole journey has also been captured forever on TV, which is an interesting legacy to have…
ALEX: Yeah, that’s exactly right.
WHO: And we know that this began with Emily’s dream to do this show, are you still processing that it’s all come true?
EMILY: We cannot believe that… I was actually just saying to Alex last night after it all aired, I was like ‘I am so glad that we put that application in.’ I remember us talking about it for so long and I was just like ‘Nup, I’m just going to do it. We need to do it. We need to put this application in because who knows what can come out of it’ and I can tell you this much, we had only hoped that we would make it this far but by no means did we ever, ever expect to make it to the grand final, let alone win it so it has totally like blown our minds, our world, everything.
WHO: Well, Emily, you set the tone from the beginning of the challenge by extending that love to Kim and Suong. Both of you teams have been together from the beginning in group one, was it good to know that you were both cooking at the top of your games and they were supporting you as well?
EMILY: Absolutely, I have so much respect for both Kim and Suong and they truly did work hard and they’re great at their Vietnamese food and they have such beautiful families and you know I rang Kim yesterday before it aired and we just had a moment, we just chatted for a couple minutes, we told each other that we loved each other and it is what it is and we cannot help what happens at 9pm last night and we were going to support each other no matter what and Alex and I said to both Kim and Suong that no matter what the outcome was going to be we were going to go down to Melbourne and see them because we did have a really strong connection, especially with Kim in particular so we really want to do the right thing and we want to go and see them and just make sure they know how proud everyone in Australia and the competition are of them, for what they’ve done