The wait is over as My Kitchen Rules returns Sunday night to pit home cooks from different states against each other.
"Inviting people into your home and cooking for them is, by its very nature, intimate," judge Nigella Lawson said.
"I felt so grateful to be the recipient of such personal generosity."
"I love it when the contestants showcase their local ingredients," fellow judge Manu Feildel said.
"When we were in Western Australia, beautiful fresh marron was on the menu.
"You just can’t beat the beautiful local produce."
The pairs of cooks are separated into two groups initially as the competition returns to its roots: real people cooking real food in their own homes, serving treasured family recipes and love on a plate to the judges and their fellow contestants.
Below we take a look at just who is competing in the show.
Ashlee and Mat - Foodie parents from WA
Margaret River’s husband and wife team, Ashlee, 36, and Mat, 39, have a wide range of cuisines under their belt, including Dutch, Asian and Italian.
Ashlee is speedy in the kitchen - and although Mat operates at a 'slightly slower' pace - the couple of 18 years make a powerful team, have strong food knowledge and know how to balance flavours.
"We are the perfect combination of loud and quiet, bossy and chill, fast and slow, so we balance each other out," Ashlee reveals.
"I'm someone who wants something done 'now' and Mat is someone who has an 'I'll do it later' attitude.
"He loves to help in the kitchen and he’s a pretty good cook, but sometimes he makes more work for me by making a mess," she adds.
The pair love entertaining, but Ashlee has one hard and fast rule for visiting friends and family: she plans and cooks all breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
While Ashlee may be in charge as far as the cooking goes, Mat has her back.
"I wanted to support my wife.
"She is an awesome cook and I think together, we will be great," he says.
Arrnott & Fuzz - Fashionista friends from NSW
Besties and co-workers Arrnott, 44, and Fuzz, 34, call themselves the 'fabulous Fijians' and were drawn together by their love of cooking, food and creativity.
"We are very close friends with similar cultural identities.
"In many ways, we overlap, and in others, we clash.
"The clashes are funny." Fuzz reveals.
Fashion stylist Fuzz and designer Arrnott both love making people feel good in their own skin and say food is the language of love.
"Food is at the centre whenever we gather, whether to celebrate or commiserate.
"It’s how we express love," Fuzz says.
"Our entire families get involved in preparing food.
Food is a shared experience and holds memories," Arrnott adds.
Growing up surrounded by big families who all loved to eat, Arrnott and Fuzz learned to cook from much-loved family members.
Both are excited to showcase their Fijian heritage, serving a slice of tropical paradise through punchy flavours, colours and textures.
"I don’t think many people know much about Fijian food, so we’d love to introduce them to it," Arrnott says.
"We love cooking seafood because it’s in our DNA."
"I’m doing this for my culture and to tell the story of my people," Fuzz adds.
Stephen and Frena - Engaged couple from SA
South Australian lovebirds Steven, 31, and Frena, 25, believe their rock-solid relationship is one of their biggest strengths in the kitchen.
Growing up between Singapore and Malaysia, Frena loves Chinese, Indonesian and Javanese flavours and has been finding her way around the kitchen since she was five.
"I memorise textures and tastes when travelling to be able to recreate those experiences and moments," Frena reveals.
"Food is also a love language for me. I appreciate that I have fed family and friends and provided a sense of home and comfort through food," she adds.
Fiancé Steven was born in Australia to British parents and experienced a childhood filled with his gran’s roast dinners.
"Gran and Pa took care of me as a child and would make me scones from scratch," Steven says.
"Their comfort and love are what made me who I am today.
"Having afternoon tea with them after school is one of my favourite memories."
In the kitchen, the couple work as one, making their curry pastes, condiments and pasta from scratch.
"Early in our relationship, we made a pact to work together as a team in the kitchen; I cook, and Steven manages the prep," Frena reveals.
"I have found my person in Steven and we are a team.
"We’re best friends, and he’s made me believe I can achieve anything," she adds.
A win in the competition would kick-start their dream of opening a Malaysian street cafe in Adelaide.
Kate and Mary - Fine diners from Queensland
Radiation therapists and close friends Kate and Mary love to host dinner parties and long lunches, bringing people together through food.
"Cooking and sharing a meal is the most joyful human experience," Kate says.
"It is how I show love to family and friends, celebrate wins and create comforting commiserations too."
"I get enormous pleasure from cooking for family and friends and sharing a table; you could say I am a 'feeder'," Mary reveals.
"It is my relaxation, artistic outlet and gift to those I entertain."
They have an immense passion for cooking with high-end premium ingredients and favour no-fuss simple cooking served on share platters.
"I love what I do; it fulfils me professionally, mentally and emotionally, but my underlying passion is food and everything it stands for," Mary reveals.
"Nourishment, sharing, creating and adventure are all aspects of food which feed my passion."
They don’t believe in wasting time on bad food or being timid with constructive criticism.
Visiting and critiquing new restaurants is one of their favourite sports!
"I’m gagging for some high-intensity cooking and the chance to critique some of my fellow contestants’ dishes," Kate says.
Janelle and Monzir - New couple from NSW
Sassy baker Janelle, 27, and partner Monzir, 26, say they have what it takes to claim the MKR champion title.
With solid teamwork and a winning menu that draws on their blended Turkish/Filipino and Sudanese heritage, winning the competition would be the icing on the cake for this loved-up couple.
However, the new couple did not tell their families they were dating until going on the show.
"Our families are quite traditional and we come from two different cultures," Janelle says.
"We decided to go on reality TV and announce it to everybody!
"Subtle is not my thing," she adds.
A dab hand on the BBQ, Monzir loves full-flavoured spice rubs and cooking over coals with his two special ingredients: chilli and peanut butter, and he loves cooking BBQ skewers with Sudanese spices.
"It’s special to me because my dad taught me this dish; it’s a secret family recipe that we enjoy eating as a family," he says.
Dubbed by friends as the 'Kardashian of cakes', Janelle runs a successful cake decorating business, has a fine eye for detail and says food presentation must be 'perfect.'
"I own a cake decorating business in Sydney," Janelle says. "My favourite thing about cakes is that you start at nothing and end up with something beautiful, special and sweet."
Peter and Alice - Father and daughter from Victoria
Nothing is off limits for this animated Victorian father and daughter team, Peter, 56, and Alice, 31.
While the pair don’t often see eye to eye, both firmly believe in the ethos that there is always room for 'one more' at the family dinner table.
"Food is family. Food is love. Being with loved ones and sharing food and stories is the most wonderful thing about my upbringing," Alice says and Peter agrees.
"It’s a way of connecting the generations," he says.
"I love it when my sister rings to tell me that she’s just made a batch of Dad’s biscuits.
"Creating something your mother or grandmother used to make is a very powerful way of keeping memories alive."
The one thing they'll have to watch is making sure they don't fight too much.
"Alice and I have always had a turbulent relationship," Peter reveals.
"Some say it’s because we are so much alike.
"With us, it’s always been on or off, hot or cold – rarely any middle ground."
"We are both very dramatic, so things often blow up into epic situations," Alice agrees.
Having worked in the family cafe with Peter for 5 years, Alice says it’s now time for her to spread her wings.
Winning MKR would bring her one step closer to realising her food truck dreams: Asian small eats with big flavours and no fuss.
Former banker Peter wants to open a high tea room, combining his love for baking and entertaining.
Che and David - Chilli mates from WA
Western Australian mates Che, 43, and David, 35, love chilli.
Che owns an award-winning hot sauce company and David is revered in the competitive chilli-eating world.
The pair met on the chilli scene and quickly bonded over all things chilli and cooking.
"We have weekly dates for drinks and BBQs," Che reveals.
"Our partners tend to complain as we don’t invite them!
"We bounce off each other, and we’re both huge street food fans and love cooking."
"We work great as a team. He’s there when I need him," Dave adds.
"Good mates, banter and good food."
They describe their entertaining style as relaxed but say teams would be making a big mistake if they underestimate their skill in the kitchen just because they're 'chilli heads'.
Che is coeliac as are two of his children.
"I have had to learn how to cook," he reveals.
"I love to make all meals gluten-free to show people that you can make gluten-free food taste good."
Rosie and Hayley - Aunt and niece from Queensland
Queensland aunty and niece team Rosie, 53, and Hayley, 29, say their relationship has become even closer as they have gotten older.
Rosie, a breast cancer survivor, says her diagnosis changed her, instilling an attitude that sees her make the most of every opportunity.
"Being a breast cancer survivor, I’ve found life is too short not to take chances," Rosie reveals.
"Doing this takes me out of my safe haven.
"I love to entertain and create, and I’m at my happiest when I’m doing that."
Rosie’s 'life’s too short' motto means the pair try not to take themselves too seriously, laugh loud and take chances.
Rosie and Hayley love entertaining friends and family with their casual Italian cooking style.
"I love nothing more than when people say I am an amazing cook," Hayley says.
"I'm sure that’s the main reason I have a boyfriend.
"Every snack at our house is so extra it’s Instagramable and usually tastes delicious," she adds.
With Rosie’s perfectionism and Hayley’s can-do attitude, this team is set to be a contender.
"We are both very loving, loyal people who would do anything for anyone," Hayley explains.
"We can count on each other for absolutely everything.
"Rosie is the firecracker and there’s nothing I love more than laughing at her when she’s angry!"
Matt and KT - Best friends from Victoria
Best buddies, Matt, 36, and KT, 33, met at a friend’s 18th birthday party and say they’re more like siblings.
Matt grew up a proud Yamaji man from the Gascoyne region in Western Australia with a nose-to-tail food philosophy.
"My food is traditional Aboriginal food, but I modernise it.
"It’s the way of the future for our Country," Matt says.
"I am a great cook. I can make anything," he adds.
Matt and KT are passionate about using Australian native ingredients and transporting their guests to the Australian Outback during their MKR instant restaurant.
"I love experimenting with different flavours and transforming recipes to make them my own" KT reveals.
"I love fresh, vibrant ingredients that look as beautiful on the plate as they taste.
"My background and favourite cuisine is Italian, so I love coming up with new ways of transforming traditional Italian dishes, more recently using Native Australian ingredients.
They dream of opening their own native cooking store, offering hard-to-find native ingredients and products.
Leanne and Milena - Sisters from Victoria
Italian sisters Leanne, 50, and Milena, 52, are best friends.
The fiery pair learned to cook from their mother, who was constantly in the kitchen cooking for her eight children.
"My mother was my teacher," Leanne reveals.
"As a child, I learned how to make delicious Italian cuisine and make salamis, sauce, olives, and breads.
"I lived in Italy for seven years eating the best food.
"I was always visiting the kitchens of restaurants to watch the chefs."
The team describe their cooking style as 'easy' Italian, saying it only takes a few ingredients to make a great-tasting plate.
"I’m a wonderful cook and very passionate about great food," Milena says.
"I love to cook for family and friends but won’t put a dish out if I don’t think it's flavoursome or good enough," she adds.
The sisters, who make their own salami, pancetta, olives and pasta, decided to compete on MKR to put their beloved mum’s food on the map.
Nicky and Jose - Spanish foodies from South Australia
Fitness fanatics Nicky, 46, and Jose, 51, live life to the max.
They met on a dancefloor six years ago and have been together ever since.
They are not married or engaged but share a matching tattoo.
Jose is Spanish and grew up around Spanish food, which has been a constant theme in his life with his parents owning a restaurant and both his grandparents' training and working as chefs.
"Food has always played a big part in my family, but since meeting Nicky, I have learned much more about cooking," Jose says.
"Cooking now gives me so much joy."
Nicky has always hoped she would one day own a café.
"As a child, my dream was to open a café."
"I’ve been working in hospitality since I was 15.
"I work in the same café where I started as a teenager."
Both contestants are excited about appearing on MKR.
"MKR is a bucket list item for Nicky and me," Jose says.
"I love having new challenges thrown at me and working together to develop new ideas under pressure."
"We love to cook and host dinner parties, meet new people and enjoy experiencing new dishes," Nicky adds.
Sophie and Katherine - Posh friends from NSW
Business partners and great friends Sophie, 53, and Katherine, 55, met 18 years ago on a camping trip and love to cook and laugh together over a wine or two.
"Food is everything. It’s one of life’s greatest pleasures," Katherine says.
"Food is how we demonstrate our love for our family and friends.
"But we also love the process of making food; cooking is always changing and moving with the times, and it gives you the chance to be inventive and artistic too."
Sophie agrees, "Cooking and the love of good food is central to the large, close family I grew up in and the family I co-created.
"My three sisters, 88-year-old mother and I still talk daily about what we’re cooking and eating.
"Food is an expression of love when we’re together and self-care when we’re alone," she adds.
The outspoken, fun-loving, entrepreneurial mums own The Dinner Ladies, a successful food service delivering ready-to-eat meals.
"They say that when equal but opposing forces meet, perfect harmony is achieved – and that’s how it is with Sophie and me," Katherine explains.
"We are quite different and disagree with monotonous regularity, but we always find ways to work through our differences.
"And after all these years, she still makes me laugh almost daily."
Both are confident home cooks who favour nutritious food and showcase fresh ingredients.
They want their instant restaurant to be a warm and inviting space where everyone feels at home.
My Kitchen Rules premieres at 7pm on Sunday, 7 August on Channel 7 and 7plus
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