My Kitchen Rules was filled with drama, but beneath it all were the amazing dishes presented by several of the teams throughout the competition. There was no team like Lisa & John though, as the pair achieved the show’s first perfect judges score for every dish in the initial Instant Restaurant Round of the season. John Krasenstein joins Reality Review to discuss his time on the show and life after it.
This December, all month long, I will be interviewing multiple Australian Reality TV participants, to celebrate Australian Reality TV and the competitors fighting for the title and ultimate grand prize on offer.
John and his Mum Lisa joined My Kitchen Rules as the lovable team from WA. Apart of Group 2, they were the first to cook in the Instant Restaurant Round. In a stunning array of cooking perfection, Lisa & John scored a massive 117 out of 130, after achieving a perfect 10 for each dish by judges Pete and Manu (something never before seen in ten years of the show). Lisa & John would then go on to win a People’s Choice Challenge and finish 2nd along with Andy & Ruby in the Open Houses. A hurdle arose soon after however, as they only managed to scrape in at 6th from eight teams in the Ultimate Instant Restaurants. Despite having four chances to reach the Semi-Finals, Lisa & John were unable to make the top four and finished the season in 5th place. Months later, a lot has happened for John, and I’m so happy he shared his story with me.
In the months after you and your Mum, Lisa, competed and watched your performance on My Kitchen Rules, how are you doing? I see you welcomed a new baby in July, what’s fatherhood like?
Fatherhood has been an amazing experience. Poppy is an absolute sweetheart and she has completely transformed my life. It has afforded me some perspective on the MKR experience and allowed me the opportunity to leave it behind. What we didn’t think about when coming on to the show was the impact it would have on you when it finishes. Those months were really hard, your life is thrown upside down and there was a crazy amount of online crap that everyone is subjected to which is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But then boom! Enter tiny human who smiles all the time and laughs (but for some reason her Mum is better at extracting these than I am which I’ll try not to take personally).
Let’s travel back to the beginning, what made you and Lisa decide to even audition for My Kitchen Rules let alone the reaction to finding out you had been cast onto the show?
Mum and I were watching an episode of MKR and were having a couple of glasses of wine and got to talking about how we could definitely do some of the things the contestants were doing. I put it down to the rosè talking. However Mum went and applied online and sent me the link to apply with her. What we didn’t know is the application auto uploads to Channel 7. We actually abandoned the idea and didn’t finish the application…until we got a call from a producer prompting us to finish it. When we got onto the show we were absolutely stoked, petrified, excited, nervous and pumped. There were hours of phone calls between Mum and I flip flopping between these feelings, going from, “what if we actually win 250k,” to, “what the hell are we doing, let’s cancel,” from, “Mum Australia is going to love you,” to, “omg what if everyone hates us”.
You and Lisa were the first to cook for your group, it’s my understanding you don’t get to choose when you cook so what kind of pressure do you think you and Lisa had, if any, compared to each of the following teams that would cook afterwards?
Yes Mum and I cooked first which I think is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand there are no expectations or built up agendas but also we didn’t get as much of an ability to learn from other contestants mistakes. In saying that though Mum and I were stoked to be cooking first, we just wanted to share our food with everyone and then hoped to be able to relax and enjoy the other instant restaurants.
You set a record on MKR, perfect scores for every dish from both judges, a full 60 out of 60, if that’s not validation to coming onto the show, I don’t know what would be. Was that something even in the realm of possibility of achieving for you both?
Mum and I set ourselves a goal of cracking a three figure score, we wanted to start out with a bang and try to make it so we could relax and enjoy the rest of the round and not worry about elimination. But then, wow 60 out of 60 from the judges, what a rush. That was truly an incredible feeling. A prawn cocktail, lamb shanks and a raspberry cheesecake. Simple, family food…crushed it. Mum and I were so excited, I had bought a bottle of tequila the day before to help us either celebrate or ease some embarrassment. Man, it has never tasted so good. In saying that though the scores are reset at the end of the round, premierships aren’t won in April, we tried to keep a level head and just appreciate it for what it was.
Your group also saw the very first team of strangers cook together. That was a major twist to the show, but ultimately, it failed as they (Milly & Karolina) went on to be eliminated the immediate Sudden Death following the Instant Restaurant round. Was this expected between you and the group, and that a team of strangers couldn’t possibly work together as good as the likes of a mother-son relationship? Or were you potentially worried they might have been the biggest powerhouses of the competition?
I don’t think the relationship has much to do with cooking in the early stages of the competition. As long as you can communicate and work together it doesn’t matter if you are family, mates, colleagues or strangers. However as the competition went on I think they would have struggled emotionally to deal with the competition as they wouldn’t have a connection to fall back on.
A couple of challenges later, you and Lisa end up winning the People’s Choice challenge of cooking seafood for 100 sailors. This is now two, considered, ‘first places’ in the show. Do you think Group 2 was now starting to see you guys as a real threat to win?
Mum and I were absolutely stoked to win the seafood challenge. That meant a lot to Mum as she has a real connection to her Dad (my grandad) through boating clubs. But in all honesty the internal favourites through the competition where Ibby & Romel and Andy & Ruby…..and to be honest I thought these two to be the strongest teams too.
We then end up at the Ultimate Instant Restaurant Rounds at the top eight and it’s safe to say this might have been considered the proving ground for you and Lisa. But unfortunately, lightning didn’t strike twice. While you and Lisa were still safe, you both only came 6th out of 8. What was the mentality going into the quarter-finals after that stage in the competition?
Yeah the ultimate restaurant round was hard! We bit off a little more than we could chew. It was a great eye opener for us. We were a bit shattered as we know all 6 of those dishes are fantastic, one of the mains was a duck with cherry sauce that would probably be the best dish I can make. Not doing this justice is my biggest regret of the competition. On the flip side where we finished is actually a great reflection of how good the other teams were, we ate some amazing food in that round, Andy & Ruby’s causa acevichada and Ibby & Romel’s chermoula spiced barramundi are two dishes I will never forget!
There were then four rounds to earn a semi-final spot in the season but you couldn’t grab one. How did you and Lisa take losing the competition and what were those days like immediately after?
Mum and I were in the competition for two reasons, firstly to have a bit of fun and secondly to win it. The series takes a few months to film and while it was certainly a lot of fun it was also extremely stressful. At the time of the elimination Mum and I were relieved it was over and we were proud of how we handled ourselves and what we produced. However with the benefit of a few months off there is always a little bit of what ifs that start going through your mind.
If there was one small victory, it’s that Matt & Luke, the eventual Champions, came from Group 2. What did you think about the boys taking out the trophy and grand prize?
I love the fact that Matt & Luke won it all. It’s an incredible story, they worked incredibly hard and stuck with their strengths. They are ripper blokes too!
Of course, the season was filled with drama between teams like brothers Josh & Austin, socialites Ibby & Romel, beauty queens Veronica & Piper – but for the most part you and Lisa stayed right out of it. What was it like seeing everything go down and just sitting on the sidelines? Was there a sense of ‘as long as it isn’t us, we’re fine’?
We had no interest in drama, as I said we were there to have fun and try to win. The drama early on was a bit fun, we just filled our wine up and watched the show! However as the drama dragged on and on especially in the ultimate instant restaurant rounds it was hard to stay at the table and have Piper and Victor cop it night after night. There is a lot of content to choose from and the audience doesn’t get to see the full picture and context of everything. To be honest the drama soured the experience. However in saying that MKR isn’t really just a cooking show is it? There have been the hero and villain storylines and drama for a number of years now so it wasn’t totally unexpected. I just wish all the good times were shown more too, so the audience could see how much fun we had too!
I’m sure it’s been asked by a lot of people, but what ARE Pete, Manu and Colin really like? Especially cooking beside the latter two at points during the season?
The judges are all actually fantastic guys. They do remain a little separated from the contestants to ensure they remain impartial when judging but I got along with all three of them, cooking with them was on another level though. They were very demanding, drove you pretty hard but what an amazing experience!!!
What can we expect next from you John? Any cooking adventures in the future?
I am back into my regular routine, I am a client director at a large global financial services firm which is a job I really enjoy. I have a 4-month old baby which is keeping my wife and I on our toes at home. I do like cooking but my real love is entertaining. We have dinners at our home with friends and that’s the extent of my food dream. We might do something here and there if there is a bit of fun to be had in it. Mum and I didn’t go on MKR to become chefs or in the hope of becoming famous, so the end of the show was the end of that road for us.– JOHN KRASENSTEIN, MY KITCHEN RULES CONTESTANT
Thank you to John for sharing his experience on the show with me, and for being such a great competitor in MKR alongside Lisa.
You can watch John’s season of My Kitchen Rules for a limited time only as the season expires at the end of the year on 7plus. Stay tuned though, as the next season of the show, billed as ‘The Rivals’, airs early next year!
Another interview will be out early next week as Reality Review celebrates Australian Reality TV. Keep your eyes peeled!
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