TV

Ibby and Romel discuss their shock My Kitchen Rules loss and address speculation the final was rigged

Was the result fair or was it fixed? Ibby and Romel weigh in on the fierce debate that's erupted following Matt and Luke's unexpected MKR win.

It was the result no one expected; underdogs Matt Gawthrop and Luke Stewart were crowned My Kitchen Rules 10th anniversary winners in a nail biting finale, edging out hot favourites Ibby Moubadder and Romel Kouyan by a mere four points.
But some viewers and even ex-contestants weren't happy with the result. Ibby and Romel were front runners from their very their first cook and were widely expected to take out the title - and the $250,000 AUD prize money.
Many have taken to social media to express their disappointment in the result, with one viewer even saying "Too bad it was rigged at the end. Shame on you My Kitchen Rules."
In an exclusive interview with Now to Love the day after the finale aired across the Tasman, Ibby and Romel open up about their journey on the show and address rumours of a fixed result.
They also reveal that they didn't find out who had won until the show aired, because two different endings were filmed. Something Romel admits took its toll.
"It's a bit of a relief," he says of it all being over now. "We finished filming quite a while ago and the closer we got to the grand final, the more it became… it was a head screw basically, trying to work out whether we had won or not.
"Ibby and I went into the whole thing especially yesterday at our viewing party knowing there was a chance that we were going to lose. Matt and Luke were great cooks and they progressed really really nicely so for Ibby and I, both of us were having a chat last night and it really does feel as if a weight has been lifted from our shoulders so it's a bit of a relief really."
They admit it was a shock to find out that they wouldn't know the result until the show aired.
"They film two endings because they don't want the news to leak out," Ibby explains. "So they film one where we lost and one where we won so we have no idea."
And although they didn't know for sure who had won, they had an inkling, says Romel. "We heard whispers during filming that they film two endings but it was never confirmed so when they made the announcement, that's when we found out.
"We walked away from it thinking 'What the f---? We've got to wait until the episode airs?' so it wasn't confirmed but there were definitely two endings.
"We had absolutely no idea," he says of the result, "but we definitely had a feeling as to which direction it would go. Ibby and I are quite switched on and we analyse everything and speak about everything so we knew where it was going to go but you don't know until the results are read out."
Given the fact that they spent tens of thousands of dollars to try and win the show, it was bitterly disappointing not to take out the title. But Romel acknowledges that they've been given new opportunities as a result, and is choosing to look at in a positive light.
Others, however, are not as philosophical about it.
Speculation ran rife across the Tasman when the finale aired, with suggestion that race played a part in the decision. Ibby and Romel proudly showcased their Lebanese heritage throughout the show, while Matt and Luke were very much modern Australian cooks, with a twist of Italian heritage.
Resident show 'villain' Josh Bonwick even took to Twitter to say he and other contestants thought the decision was wrong.
"I can say with a clean conscience after eating both team's dishes tonight, I believe Ibby and Romel should have won as their food to me was superior in flavour,' he wrote. "The food was chalk and cheese tonight. We were all so shocked."
He went a step further in an interview with Daily Mail Australia, saying "I feel that production played them along and just kept them for ratings and decided to give it to the cricketers - the battlers, the underdogs - because they didn't want an uproar from the Australian public.'"
Winners Matt and Luke.
Romel, however, chooses not to focus on the negative and refuses dwell on suggestions of the show being rigged.
"For me personally, I'd rather not think that way at all to be honest with you. It may have been, it may not have been, I don't know but the one thing I can say is for both of us it was a great experience.
"It's definitely opened up a lot of doors for us and boosted our profile so there's a lot of ways that we can look at it. We can either be really negative and bitter about it or we could just take the high road and look at what it's given us. It's given us opportunities we never would've had without the show so I think that's what we're taking away from it.
"I think we just want to be really positive about it," he continued. "If you get caught up in that whole conversation of 'Is it rigged?', it's not going to do anything or change anything.
"Both Ibby and I went into the competition and we didn't give it 100 per cent we gave it a million per cent. We were invested, we worked tirelessly, we were up until three or four in the morning practicing and making those dishes over and over. We genuinely could not have pushed ourselves more than we did and for that I'm proud of both of us."
Regardless of the outcome, it's been a great experience for the pair. And it's cemented their friendship, says Romel.
"The competition has definitely brought us much closer than when we started.
"We didn't really know each other when we got in the competition so the fact that we did what we did and got as far as we got whilst getting to know each other during filming, it's a major achievement."
And he's proud of how far they've come, even if it was harder than they expected. "We can confirm it is probably one of the hardest things we've ever done in our whole entire lives," Romel says.
"To come this far, honestly I'm in awe of my partner Ibby and I'm in awe of what we have achieved so I think we did exceptionally well."
So what's next for the ambitious pair?
For Romel, who runs a modelling and talent agency, it's a career on screen. "I came into the show wanting to use it as a platform to launch a career in TV," he says, "whether it's hosting, presenting, something to do with that, that's where my focus is. I'm working on a couple of TV shows which may or may not happen but that's my future goal."
And for Ibby, who runs two cafes and a restaurant, it's a career in food. "I'd like to continue my career in hospitality but most importantly we're also looking at doing a cookbook," he says. "We already started the process."
"We honestly keep getting harassed about when it's coming out," adds Romel, "so we're definitely working on it and it's Ibby's biggest dream so this is another thing the show has given us. It's given us a platform to allow us to do that."